Wakefield Trinity Wildcats are sad to learn of the loss of one of their former greats this week with the passing of Albert Firth on Monday night, aged 77.
‘Budgie’, as he was known to all at Belle Vue, was part of the ‘pack of greats’ in the ‘Glory Years’ of the early 1960s which earned him two RL Challenge Cup winners medals, two Yorkshire Cup winners medals, three Yorkshire League Championship medals and two RL Championship runners up medals aswell as three Yorkshire County caps.
Albert was a local man, hailing from Stanley, and learning his trade through the Wakefield Schools rugby league team before playing with Stanley Rangers. As a 16 year old, Trinity quickly snapped him up in July 1953. He made his debut in a 12-12 draw at Hull Kingston Rovers on 3rd April 1954, playing second row alongside the great Don Robinson. At a few months short of his seventeenth birthday, Albert remains one of the youngest forwards to debut in a Trinity shirt.
The following season he established himself in the Trinity second row, playing thirty games, scoring his first club try in the first match of the season against Oldham. In 1955-56 he was integral part of the double winning Trinity A-team before re-establishing himself back in the Trinity forwards as the 1950s finished.
He was still an important member of the team as the great side of the early 1960s gradually came together. Jack Wilkinson, Geoff Oakes, Don Vines, Derek Turner, Brian Briggs and Malcolm Sampson were all added to the Trinity forwards and Albert played in the successful Challenge Cup winning sides of 1960 and 1962 aswell as the Championship Trophy Final defeats in the same years. His Yorkshire Cup winner’s medals came in 1960 and 1961, and he also scored two tries in the 20-10 victory over the 1959 Australian Kangaroos.
In September 1959, he was honoured to be selected for Yorkshire in the county championship game against Cumberland, at Hull, winning 13-4. He gained a further two county appearances in 1961 against the touring New Zealand Kiwis at Hull KR and Cumberland at Wakefield. He was also selected in the 1962 Great Britain squad against France, as reserve but did not make the full team.
He was transferred to York in December 1962 and, later, Leeds in October 1964, before eventually settling in Scarborough where he ran a number of public houses.
His full Trinity record was 70 tries in 217 appearances between 1954 and 1962, a record that puts him sixth in the top scoring forwards in Trinity’s history.