Tony Crosby, the quiet, unpretentious engineer from York, stepped up after ten weeks to make his bow against Widnes and Castleford in the last two matches of the season. Thereafter the succession was never in doubt, the terraces warming to him from the start.
And so began a marvellous three-year stint that was to take him from virtual obscurity to realms of glory he had only ever dreamed about. Moreover, fortunate though he was to arrive on the scene just as the Loiners’ star was going into the ascendancy, he did not so much seize his opportunity as help to create it, for his sterling all-round play became a telling factor as the Loiners dispersed the last remaining clouds of perennial frustration and wrought their magic on the proverbial silver linings with rugby of sheer untarnished splendour.
A craftsman in the tight and a glutton for work in the loose, what wonderful memories Headingley folk retain of a player who never attained any representative honours, yet gave his all week by week with unstinting application and zest. The jack-in-the-box try against Hunslet in 1967 in the 2nd Round of the Yorkshire Cup, when he sprang up from nowhere to collect a pass from Dick Gemmell and sprinted alongside the posts like a Powderhall man; Wembley in ’68, when he kept his head above the water-line Uust!), to win the first-half serums 15 – 3 against Trinity’s George Shepherd; the psychological ‘killer’ try on the stroke of half-time that put paid to Oldham’s hopes in the 1st Round of the 1969 Championship play-off; and then, a fortnight later, surely the one moment none who were present will ever forget, with Salford leading by a point in the Semi-Final and barely fifteen minutes to go. A devastating burst by the inspired Clark, out to Cowan, inside to Hynes, on to the tireless Crosby, and the hooker’s every stride was cheered to the echo as he incredibly held off Dixon’s challenge, to cross for a glorious match-winner. Two points ahead! The relief was indescribable, the ovation for Crosby no less thunderous than that normally accorded to an Olympic medallist. Twenty years on, and they’re still talking about it!
Leaving Leeds during the summer of ’70, to round off his career at Hull Kingston’s Craven Park, Tony is still resident in the York area and naturally recalls his days in blue and amber with extreme pleasure. The regard is mutual! Would that every player signed in the past in a blaze of publicity had filled the bill even half as well as the man who arrived by the Tradesman’s Entrance and in no time at all earned a place on Headingley’s Roll of Honour.