A lion-hearted character, with more than a drop of proud Irish blood coursing through his veins, Pat was a broth of a boy, whose very presence, both on and off the field, was a tremendous boost to morale, even though he readily recognised that on current form he was unlikely to displace either Lewis Jones or Keith McLellan on a permanent basis.
Resourceful, imaginative, reads the game well, fine pair of hands, fearless tackler, powerful bursts, a good kicker, a full-back, perhaps! The experimental switch could scarcely have been more successful. Reliable in defence and brilliantly creative on attack, Pat made the position his own in mid-February in a League match at York’s Wigginton Road, the Loiners romping home by 35 points to 5. Moreover, quick-witted and unflappable as he undoubtedly was, any lingering reservations as to his defensive technique were dispelled during the Good Friday encounter with Hunslet, when he was confronted by a huge overlap, and no cover in sight, not even a dog, yet somehow contrived to shepherd four marauders into a cramped pen of fumbling futility.
Three weeks later he was making Cup Final history at Barrow’s expense. Pressure, pressure, but still no points, and twenty-three minutes gone. Nobody was going to stop Quinn! A surge up the left, to take Prior’s pass from the play of the ball, a dummying swing of the hips, as if to transfer inside to Lewis Jones and he was diving headlong with arms outstretched to touch down at the corner and thus become the first full-back to score a try in a Wembley Final. Nor did he panic in that last traumatic minute, when Horne sent Rea clear, with Castle in support and fear surely clutching at every Leeds heart.
‘I’ll take Castle’ the call to Lewis Jones was loud and clear, inducing the inexperienced 20-year-old Rea to kick. The peril was averted, the Cup won, the winner’s medal richly deserved after less than nine months at Headingley.
Thereafter, apart from a Yorkshire Cup Final victory over Wakefield Trinity at Odsal in 1958, Pat’s ‘glory days’ were over, the Loiners falling on hard times, yet he continued to play the game he loved, as he lived, with boundless zest and enthusiasm. All the greater, therefore, was the disappointment of countless friends and admirers when his impending marriage prompted him to resign the captaincy in December 1959 and return to his native Lancashire.
The games he played in Wigan’s cherry and white were few. Blue and amber were his colours. Nor did they ever fade! In 1976, when Keith and Gwen McLellan returned from Australia on a brief holiday, Pat it was who leapt on to a chair at the Chained Bull, to lead the 1957 Wembley squad in the song they had made their own.
It was to come tragically all too soon, in a motorway accident on 18th January 1986, as 55-year-old Pat was heading north from Twickenham after the England v Wales international.