Salford RLFC Supporters' Trust

The voice of Salford Red Devils fans

Paul Whiteside 0 Comments

Paul Fletcher, 1980-1987, Heritage Number 755.

Debut, 24th October 1980, Featherstone Rovers, The Willows.

Appearances 159

Substitute appearances 14

Tries 40, Goals 40, Drop Goals 1.

Paul Fletcher has become one of the latest former Salford player to receive his heritage number and certificate. Paul was in attendance at the latest Salford RLFC Supporters trust event.

After captaining Salford Colts Paul signed Pro Forms as an eighteen year old.

Fast and elusive playing some fantastic rugby at scrum half in The Colts League many clubs were admiring and alert at the young mans progress.

In a way it’s some what surprising how well Paul adapted to the Full back position. Coach Kevin Ashcroft and his loyal assistant Tommy Grainey saw Paul’s future as the last line of defence and their forward thinking certainly paid off. A very accomplished defensive player it was Paul’s attacking prowess that made him a huge favourite with the supporters. An ability to beat the first man with quality footwork Paul became a very important cog in Salford’s team of the 1980s. His debut came on the 24th October 1980 at the Willows in a League match against Featherstone Rovers. Salford won the match 13-9, tries from Stuart Williams and a brace from David Stephenson, two more young stars in what was a youthful side. The 1980/81 season was a tough one for Salford and finishing in 14th position relegation was confirmed along with Oldham, Workington and Halifax. Despite a struggling league Campaign, Salford had a very exciting Challenge Cup run beating Bradford and Leigh. Both sides were Championship winners in the early 80s so this was a big achievement. Salford were eventually beaten at Craven Park against Hull kr 19-8. The Robins were another force of that era and went on to reach the final at Wembley. They were beaten by Widnes in the final 18-9.

Maurice Richards and Mike Coulman we’re reaching the twilight of their own careers in the early 80s. These two players had been hero’s of a young Paul Fletcher growing up on the terraces at the Willows. Paul would learn so much off their professional attitude. Speaking in his programme notes back in December 1982 Coulman said, “ Paul Fletcher has become a revelation with his displays at fullback. He has always been a capable lad but now his confidence is growing and he is looking tremendous under pressure.”

After two solid seasons in the Second Division Paul achieved promotion with Salford back to the First Division in March 1983. A try scorer on Good Friday at Station Road in a thrilling derby win over Swinton, Paul scored another try five days later at Rochdale. A windy Wednesday night at the Athletic Grounds against Rochdale Hornets was ironically my first experience of watching Salford. I was only just over three months old, as we lived in Rochdale my dad thought it would be a good idea for me to tag along! Paul scored the only try of the match, Steve Rule kicked two goals and we won 0-7. A final league position of third was a good reflection on the progress the club had made.

With just five wins from thirty matches in the 1983/84 season Salford were relegated again. Twelve months later after another impressive season in the second tier promotion was again achieved. Paul scored 11 tries that season, 21 goals and the only drop goal of his career which came in a 23-23 draw at home to Huddersfield.

After seven seasons with Salford, Paul transferred to Hull at the end of the 1986/87 season. In one of his first matches for his new club he lined up against Salford at The Boulevard. Hull edged the match 16-11, from a drop out Paul caught the ball and breezed through to put the Airlie Birds in front for the first time in the match.

His second season at Hull was probably the most successful. A fourth place finish in the First Division and a Premiership Final appearance at Old Trafford. Unfortunately Widnes beat Hull 18-10 in the final that day.

Speaking to Paul in 2019 he remains a very humble and modest man about his achievements in the sport of Rugby League. A classy player who is fondly remembered by the Salford supporters not only for giving great service to the club but also his work in the amateur game. Helping to nurture players like Adrian Morley, Ian Watson and Carlo Napolitano at Eccles.

Paul is a Salford lad and proudly talks about the City he belongs to. He still attends matches week in week out supporting Ian Watson’s Salford Red Devils.

A great character and very talented Rugby League player.

Paul Whiteside.

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