THREE WELSH SPORTING CENTURIONS HONOURED BY WELSH SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Three of Wales’ most capped sports stars were among four new inductees onto the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame’s ‘Roll of Honour’ at their annual dinner at Cardiff City Stadium tonight (Thursday 14 September).
Olympic hockey medallist Leah Wilkinson, four-time Commonwealth Games netballer Suzy Drane and Welsh football’s all-time leading goal scorer, Helen Ward, were joined by dual-code rugby international John Devereux in taking the ‘Roll of Honour’ up to 164 sporting greats.
“Between them, Leah, Suzy and Helen amassed 434 caps for their country in three amazing careers before stepping down from the international stage in the past 12 months,” said WSHoF chair, Laura McAllister
“They have all enjoyed stellar careers in their respective sports and helped to drive up standards on and off the field of play. We were delighted to add them to our ‘Roll of Honour’, where they now quite rightly sit with so many legends of Welsh sport.
“It was also great to have John Devereux honoured on the same night. He played in the most successful Welsh rugby union team to date at the World Cup and played in a Rugby League World cup final with Great Britain.
“It was especially nice to see rugby league greats, and ‘Roll of Honour’ members Billy Boston and Jim Mills, able to welcome him into their exclusive club.”
LEAH WILKINSON (Hockey)
An Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo two years ago, a four-time Commonwealth Games athlete and a nine-time veteran of the European Championships, Leah eventually became a full-time professional athlete at the age of 33. She finally announced her international retirement this year at the age of 36 but is still playing at the highest level of club hockey in the UK. She is the most capped sportsperson in the history of Welsh sport with an incredible 204 caps she is now back in the classroom as an inspirational teacher.
SUZY DRANE (Netball)
She has been at the heart of the Welsh Netball teams for almost two decades, captaining both Wales and the Celtic Dragons as a dynamic centre, wing attack or wing defence on court. She won 105 caps, went to four Commonwealth Games, two World Cups and became the third player from Welsh Netball to be inducted onto the ‘Roll of Honour’. She follows in the footsteps of Helen Weston and Wendy White.
JOHN DEVEREUX (Rugby Union / Rugby League)
He played in a World Cup final in one of his sports and in a Bronze Final in the other. A cross-code international for Wales and Great Britain, he was part of the most successful Welsh team to date at the Rugby World Cup at the inaugural event in 1987.
He played for Wales in a World Cup semi-final in both codes and was at Wembley for the 1993 Challenge Cup Final, playing alongside Jonathan Davies for Widnes. He played for Cardiff Met, Bridgend, Wales and the British & Irish Lions in rugby union and for Widnes, Manly Sea Eagles, Wales and Great Britain in rugby league.
HELEN WARD (Football)
Stepping down from international sport earlier this year, Helen bowed out with 105 caps and a goal scoring record that surpassed even Gareth Bale. She won the FA Cup once with Arsenal, played in two more finals and enjoyed a career at both amateur and professional levels with The Gunners, Chelsea, Watford and Reading that saw her win other titles and promotions. She took time off to have two children during her career, but still came back to score more goals for club and country. She ended her Wales career with 44 goals in 105 games and joins her former Arsenal teammate and Wales manager Jayne Ludlow onto the ‘Roll of Honour’.
There are now 164 sportsmen and women on the ‘Roll of Honour’ representing 30 different sports. In 2023, the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame inducted John Bevan (Rugby Union / Rugby League), Tom David (Rugby Union), Delme Thomas (Rugby Union), John Taylor (Rugby Union), Derek Quinnell (Rugby Union) and Jim Mills (Rugby League) and two earlier events prior to the dinner at Cardiff City Stadium.
The Welsh Sports Hall of Fame ‘Roll of Honour’ Citation
“Induction to the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame is reserved for those Welsh women and men, whose exceptional achievements over the course of their careers in any theatre of sport, have enhanced Wales as a Nation and brought honour to themselves and our Country.”
HISTORY OF WSHoF
The Welsh Sports Hall of Fame was the brainchild of GV Wynne-Jones, the former Cardiff rugby player and legendary BBC Radio commentator. Efforts were first made to launch it in 1972, but it wasn’t until 1981 that the first exhibition at the National Sports Centre, Cardiff was finally opened by Olympic gold medallists Lynn Davies and Richard Meade. Lord Brooks of Tremorfa eventually took over as chairman from the late “Geevers” and, under his guidance, the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame showcases were sited at the new South Glamorgan County Council headquarters at Atlantic Wharf. In 1989, the exclusive Roll of Honour was established and rugby league legend Billy Boston, who was one of the initial 10 members, launched it in January of that year. In September 1994, the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame had grown by such a significant degree that it had to be relocated and found its new home at St Fagan’s, near Cardiff. Now, in conjunction with the Welsh Rugby Union, there are exhibits on display at the Principality Stadium.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE WELSH SPORTS HALL OF FAME PLEASE CONTACT
Rob Cole (Trustee) – 07971 619162 / [email protected]