Sprinter signed for young Leigh fans
12:10pm Sunday 3rd February 2013 in North West
THE autograph hunters pictured nearly 60 years ago had tracked down a legendary athlete in Leigh.
This Journal photograph dates from July 1953 and shows youthful Leigh Rugby League Club fans at Hilton Park with new signing sensation Emmanuel McDonald Bailey, the 32-year-old Olympic sprinter and joint world 100 metres record holder.
On this occasion, McDonald Bailey signed just two autographs – his first for Jimmy Hindley, front centre, of Glebe Street, Leigh, and the other for the blond boy waiting his turn on the right.
When Leigh chairman Jimmy Hilton, vice-chairman Jack Harding and committee men Jack Ruben and Ken Fletcher travelled to London to sign the Trinidad-born athlete, their venture became the main sporting topic in Britain.
The club denied suggestions that signing the man who ran 100 metres in 10.2 seconds was a publicity stunt.
The Jamaican finally took to the field in front of 17,000 spectators who thronged to Hilton Park for a friendly floodlit match with Wigan on Wednesday, December 16, 1953.
In a team that included the likes of Jimmy Ledgard and Trevor Allan, he scored one of Leigh’s three tries in their 11-3 win. Baxter and Clough were the other Leigh try scorers and Ledgard landed a goal.
It was his only appearance for the club but his signing is still recalled as one of Leigh’s sporting milestones.
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