30th June 2020, 17:47 | rfl
The RFL sends deepest sympathy to the Halifax and Leeds clubs following the loss of the following three members of the Rugby League family. For each of the men below, we send our condolences to their families and friends – and our appreciation of their lives, and their contribution to the sport.
A hugely successful businessman, Tony Gartland was an equally generous benefactor of the Halifax club. He then served the wider sport as one of the RFL’s first independent non-executive directors from 2002, and his contribution was recognised with his addition to the RFL Roll of Honour in 2007.
Nigel Wood, the former RFL Chief Executive who sat with Gartland on the Board, paid tribute: “Tony was targeted to be one of the first independent directors of the RFL because of his principles, his passion for the sport, and his considerable business success. He played a key role as the RFL navigated through difficult waters in the early 2000s, and was highly regarded by all who worked with him.”
Halifax were already mourning the loss of Tony Beevers, who died earlier this month. He served with Tony Gartland on their board of directors after working as the commercial manager, represented the club at RFL Council meetings, and was also chairman of their Past Players’ Association. Previously, he had played for Bradford Northern and Dewsbury, and after retirement he worked as chief executive of Bradford, and was a director at Keighley, Featherstone and Leigh.
Barry Simms was a member of the first Leeds team to win the Championship, excelling at hooker in their 25-10 victory over Warrington in the Final at Odsal. The great Lewis Jones said he would have won the man of the match award had one existed.
Simms had already contributed to their Yorkshire Cup Final win against Wakefield Trinity in 1958, as a 19-year-old, and earned a Great Britain debut against France in 1962, but his career was cut short by a serious knee injury.
The Leeds website this week quoted the late Harry Jepson describing Simms as “tenacious…seemingly impervious to pain and potential danger” and “like a scampering sheepdog at times, rounding them up or corralling the opposition into heavy traffic”.
Jepson added: “He could hold his head up with all the best hookers Leeds have had.”
Picture of Tony Gartland courtesy of Halifax RLFC