‘Fast’ wasn’t the word! Even when he was a youngster, pigeons used to keep their skates handy, just in case! Champion schoolboy sprinter of Yorkshire at thirteen, and a soccer star with Bradford City Boys, on leaving school he was persuaded by his father to switch codes and try his hand at rugby with the Bradford Northern 14-16 team.
Try his hand, indeed! From the moment he was drafted into Northern’s senior team in April1927 for a game against Huddersfield, the 16-year-old was clearly destined for the highest honours in the game. And quickly, too, Yorkshire calling on him in November 1928 for the Roses match, and England the following March for the international versus Other Nationalities at Headingley.
Yorkshire, England and still only eighteen! What next? Predictably, the day dawned when the impoverished Birch Lane club had little option· but to part with their most valuable asset, but Stan’s transfer to the Fartown ‘finishing school’ in August 1929 for a fee of £1,000 could scarcely have turned out better. Selected just five months later for the extra Test ‘decider’ against Australia at Rochdale, he made the initial running for the only try of the match, scored by Stan Smith, and became an automatic choice for the 1932 Tour, during which he played in all six Tests (three at centre, three at standoff), and thrilled the Australian crowds in particular with his smooth, greased lightning bursts of blinding pace.
As for club honours, for all he was on the losing side in the 1930 Yorkshire Cup Final, absent from the corresponding Final a year later because of injury, and on the high seas with the Tourists at the time of the 1932 Championship Final, he still gave the claret-and-gold fans plenty to crow about, featuring prominently in both the 1930 Championship win over Leeds and the 1933 Wembley victory over Warrington, in addition to earning a Yorkshire League Championship medal in 1929-30.
All the more reason, therefore, for Leeds supporters to be cock-a-hoop on 30th March 1934, when they arrived at Belle Vue for the Good Friday match totally unaware that ‘Broggie’ had been signed only three hours earlier for a record-breaking fee of £1,200 and would be turning out against Trinity that very afternoon. Nor did he fail to measure up to their immediate expectations, touching down for a debut try, and then running amok to score an Easter Tuesday hat-trick against Oldham at Headingley.
And what a capture he proved to be! Able to slot in at centre, wing or standoff, in a superlatively accomplished back division, he missed not a single Final as the Loiners went from strength to strength. Meanwhile, at representative level he served Yorkshire, England and Great Britain equally well, going on the highly successful1936 Tour, along with Jim Brough, Fred Harris and Stan Smith, and playing in all five Tests.
Considered by Vic Hey to be the fastest player he had ever seen, ‘Broggie’ was only slightly built, yet no less menacing on attack on that account, with so many ‘tools of the trade’ in his locker: swerve, sidestep, dummy, a safe pair of hands, and superb throttle control. Indeed, his favourite ploy was to transfix an opponent by zooming directly at him, apparently flat out, and then, shoot away like a meteor with electrifying acceleration.
Of the many fine tries he scored for Leeds, two at Headingley must surely take pride of place. The first came in the second half of a game against York on 8th December 1934. A characteristic flash of searing pace, and he was clear of all save the full-back, with Eric Harris revving up in readiness. A classic dummy, bought by full-back Dings dale as well as thousands of suckers on the terraces and he was heading for the posts in high glee.
The second, against the Australians on 1st December 1937, was a longdistance thriller from inside his own ’25’. A touch on the accelerator to round winger Hazelton with nonchalant ease, a check, followed by a swerve, to escape the brutal clutches of a desperate do-or-die cover and full-back Ward was left for dead in no-man’s land. With a rifle, he might just have had a chance!
Transferred to Hull in August 1938, before the Yorkshire Cup register closed and therefore eligible to play in the Final against Huddersfield, Stan subsequently saw service with Rochdale Hornets, Salford and Whitehaven before finally hanging up his boots.
A Powder hall sprinter, capable of breaking 11 seconds for the 100 yards when turned forty years of age, it was a rare treat for the Headingley fans to see him once again speeding down the North Stand touchline in 1953 and comfortably holding off the challenge of ‘Drew’ Turnbull and others in a yards-for-years sprint specially arranged for the joint John Feather- Arthur Staniland benefit evening.
Employed for many years as a dyer’s operative in the textile trade, at one time he entertained high hopes of his two sons making names for themselves, the younger one being on Arsenal’s books for a spell as an amateur, the elder having trials at Headingley.
Sixteen Tests, a couple of Tours, sixteen Internationals, twenty County matches, Wembley Finals, Championship Finals, Yorkshire Cup Finals. Medals galore, tries out of this world, fame, if not fortune, a legacy of magical memories. And to think he might have stuck to soccer! Fathers do sometimes know best!