ONE of York Rugby League’s greatest players and former coach, Charlie Taylor, has passed away, aged 92.

York born and bred, and having come through the ranks at amateurs Heworth, he made his debut for the Clarence Street club as a 17-year-old in a 35-0 win over Leigh on November 19, 1938, and hung up his boots 14 years later after a bad shoulder injury ended his career.

His last game had been in 1951 and the club staged a benefit match in his honour, against a Lionel Cooper’s XIII, on May 9 that year. He had made a total of 244 appearances for York in which he scored 54 tries and eight goals.

Those totals would have been far higher, of course, but for World War Two, during which Taylor served in the Royal Navy, aboard destroyers in the Russian convoys, the English Channel and the Mediterranean, from 1941 until 1946, a year after the war ended.

A centre or loose-forward, he was made club captain on his return from duty. He represented Yorkshire against Cumberland at Whitehaven in 1950 and was a candidate for a Great Britain Ashes tour to Australia only to miss out on a casting vote.

He was described as one of the most loyal and best servants the club had ever had, having turned down moves to more fashionable teams, and was voted one of York’s best 13 post-War players in a poll of Evening Press readers in 1989, the year the club left Clarence Street for Huntington Stadium.

After hanging up his boots he joined the Clarence Street backroom staff, from 1952 to 1960. He was assistant-coach when York reached the Yorkshire Cup final in 1957.

In an interview with the Evening Press in 1994, he’d said he rarely took notice of the crowd during matches. “When I was coaching I’d say, ‘Don’t listen to the crowd. If you hear them clapping you will make more mistakes, then you’ll notice them booing’.

“The only time I listened to the crowd was at away games. When we came off, if they were carrying on at me, saying, ‘You bald so and so’, I’d think they are noticing me so I must be having a good game.”

Outside of rugby, he met his wife to be, Renie, while working at Rowntree’s confectionery factory and they got married on October 25, 1941, at Selby Abbey – with Taylor actually playing rugby that afternoon.

“In the changing room when I lifted off my jumper there was confetti all over the place,” he joked.

After his service with the Armed Forces, he returned to Rowntree’s and, from 1961, he worked there as part of its fire service until his retirement in 1984.

Renie died in 1999, eight years after the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Taylor lived in the Huntington Road area of York but spent his last eight years in a care home in Norton, and died from dementia.

He leaves behind children Pauline, Michael and Kevin, granddaughters Sheryl, Lisa, Emma and Renee, six great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

His funeral will be on November 18, at 12.20pm, at York Crematorium. All are welcome. The funeral procession is to go via Haley’s Terrace, off Huntington Road, where he lived, Rowntree’s, where he worked, and past the site of the old Clarence Street ground, where he played his entire rugby career.