Wakefield Trinity Wildcats were saddened to hear of the passing of former coach, Tony Dean, who passed away on Friday evening after a long illness.
The funeral service will take place on Friday 1st August at 1pm at St. Cuthbert’s Church in Ackworth and will be followed by a cremation at Pontefract Crematorium. Mourners are then invited to celebrate Tony’s life and career at the Frog and Moose, Wakefield Road in Ackworth.
Club historian, Lee Robinson, was also on the coaching staff at the same time as Tony and he looks back at his life.
Tony was on the Trinity coaching staff for eighteen months in the 1980′s and a very popular coach he was too.Dean had a long distinguished playing career before he arrived at Trinity in 1985.
He played for Castleford, Hunslet, Batley and Hull FC as a crafty, no-nonsense scrum-half, earning a RL Challenge Cup winners medal with Hull in 1982, where he partnered Trinity ‘Hall of Fame’ member David Topliss at half-back in the classic cup final replay against Widnes at Elland Road, Leeds.
He joined Trinity’s coaching staff in the summer of 1985 as Len Casey’s assistant. Trinity were in the Second Division at the time and Casey and Dean guided them to promotion in fine style, finishing in third place behind Leigh and Barrow.During the 1985-86 season, aswell as being Casey’s assistant he coached Trinity’s A team to Yorkshire Cup final success, defeating Hull A, 20-0.
Youngsters Bill Conway and Gary Spencer blossomed under his coaching throughout the season as the team also finished sixth in the league.Just before the 1986-87 First Division programme started, Len Casey shocked the club by accepting Hull FC’s offer of head coach. He wanted Dean as his assistant, but Tony decided to stay behind and take the first team coaching role on at Belle Vue for the First Division campaign.Ironically, Dean’s first match as head coach was away at Hull against his old ‘boss’ culminating in a 6-12 loss.
It did not get any easier with Widnes and Castleford away in the next two games. Trinity’s squad was not strong enough and by December Trinity found themselves at the bottom of the league, well adrift from everyone else with one draw and eleven defeats in his first twelve league games. Cup victories over Batley and amateurs, Millom, were his only successes, along with a draw at home to Barrow and he was relieved of his coaching duties in early December 1986, just three months into his tenure, with an overall record of sixteen matches coached, two wins, one draw and thirteen defeats.
After a break from the game he did, eventually, join Len Casey at Hull FC, who yet again resigned leaving Tony in full charge of Hull FC for a few games in 1988.
Tony had a great personality as a coach, generally full of humour as well as encouragement for the youngsters at the club and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Everyone at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats sends their condolences to Tony’s family and friends at this difficult time.