LES CHAMBERLAIN OBITUARY

posted on 4 March 2015

The club lost another of its favourite sons this week with the passing of former player, Les Chamberlain, on Monday evening. He was 81 years ago and had been suffering ill health for many years.

Les was part of the Trinity team in the 1960's 'Glory Years' but signed for the club in December 1955. Hailing from Middleton in Leeds, he signed from Leeds & District amateur rugby league and made his debut later that month, in the Christmas Eve fixture at home to Dewsbury, playing loose forward in the 20-8 victory. He played three further games that season, including a two try effort at home to Huddersfield over the Easter period. He also assisted the A team in 1956 when they won the League and Cup double.

The following season saw Les pick up a Yorkshire Cup winners medal. After injuries robbed Trinity of two loose forwards, Les took his chance from the reserves and was a valuable member of the team that defeated Hunslet, 23-5 in the final. He was part of the Trinity team that reached the 1958 Yorkshire Cup final, but went down to Leeds 24-28. Chamberlain was now developing into an all-action back row forward regularly playing in the second row or loose forward and he was on the verge of Yorkshire county honours when he broke his leg against Workington Town in October 1958, the week after the Yorkshire Cup final.

Les was on the sidelines for over a year, returning against Batley in October 1959, but Trinity had built a formidable pack in his absence and time in the reserves ensued whilst Turner, Vines and Firth occupied the back row. Les's patience paid off and he was back on first team duty in February which saw him go all the way to Wembley success and the Championship Final.

Les did not play in any of the Challenge Cup rounds of 1960 but an injury to Malcolm Sampson a couple of weeks before Wembley saw Les play in the second row in Trinity's 38-5 emphatic victory over Hull. He was also in the second row a week later as Trinity were defeated 3-27 by Wigan in their very first RL Championship Final at Odsal.

With Briggs, Firth and Turner occupying the back three of the scrum, Les moved to prop in the 1960-61 season, picking up another Yorkshire Cup winners medal as Trinity defeated Huddersfield, 16-10. In all Les picked up five winners medals in a Trinity shirt, adding two Yorkshire League Championship medals in 1959 and 1960. 1960-61 proved to be his last in a Trinity shirt; his last game being an 8-15 loss to Leeds at Belle Vue on 29th April 1961. His full Trinity playing record was 14 tries in 110 appearances between 1955 and 1961, earning him a heritage number of 625.

He subsequently signed for Bramley in the off season, later signing for Hull Kingston Rovers in 1963 and Leeds in December 1963. Whilst at Leeds, Les played in his fourth Yorkshire Cup final in 1964, being defeated 2-18 by his former Trinity team mates, eventually retiring in 1967-68 after 104 Leeds appearances.

Personally, Les was part of a trio of Trinity players who married three sisters in the 1950s. He married Lily Geary in 1959 with Lily's sisters, Molly and Peggy marrying Trinity players, Stan Smith and Albert Firth. A devoted family man, Les had four sons, Gary, Neal, Michael and Mark and on the eve of Les's passing he sat with his family reliving the 1960 Challenge Cup Final.

On behalf of everyone connected with the club, we would like to send our deepest sympathies to Les' family and friends at this sad time.

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