By Simon Dent
Bev Risman OBE, the former RFL President and son of the late Gus Risman, had many highs during his Rugby League playing career but his father being immortalised in the Wembley statue that will be unveiled on Saturday will be the proudest moment of his life.
Bev, who won a handful of trophies including a Challenge Cup with Leeds, was elected as the RFL President in 2010, and his father, one of the five subjects of the statue, played for Salford, Workington and Batley in career spanning over 25 years.
“I’ve said a few times that this is the best moment of my life,” said Bev, who captained Great Britain in the 1968 Rugby League World Cup.
“To be recognised, the way my dad has, and to be identified in bronze at the most iconic stadium in the world is fantastic. Everyone in the family thinks so as well and they can’t wait to see it unveiled on Saturday.
“There’ll definitely be a lump in my throat. I’m not normally emotional, but there will be plenty of tears this weekend from me, my brother John and our children and partners.
“It’s absolutely marvellous, but I don’t think they’ll realise how marvellous it is until they see it unveiled.”
Commissioned in association with Rugby League Cares, the statue, which will be revealed before this year’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final between Hull Kingston Rovers and Leeds Rhinos, includes five legends of the sport including Gus Risman, Eric Ashton MBE, Billy Boston MBE, Martin Offiah MBE and Alex Murphy OBE.
Bev is pleased that there will be a monument on the concourse of Wembley to Rugby League – the home of the Challenge Cup final.
“I think it’s absolutely iconic,” he said. “There’s been a massive relationship between the RFL and Wembley for all this time and I’m sure that they’ve always worked well with each other, as well as the Football Association.
“I think it’s great that it’s all happening and long may it last. It’s something that will be there for a long time for generations for people to see. The fact that it’s my father at the top of the statue is just immense.”
Gus Risman’s career spanned a quarter of a decade. He was 41 when he won a second Challenge Cup in 1952 and won three championships with Salford as a player. He played in five Ashes series, home and away in 1932, 1933, 1936, 1937 and 1946 (the last aged 35 – another record).
He captained Wales and Great Britain many time during 36 internationals and Tests, and captained the touring Lions in Australia in 1946. His phenomenal all-round record is testament to a true great: 843 appearances, 1,678 goals kicked and 4,050 points scored.
Almost 80,000 tickets for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final between Hull Kingston Rovers and Leeds Rhinos at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 29 have already been sold but a limited number are still available to purchase from as little as £20.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting wwww.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or calling the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113.