Johnny Whiteley admits he cannot stop smiling when he looks at his latest Rugby League medal after being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Hull FC legend landed the award as part of the Golden Boot celebrations at Elland Road this week as he was commemorated for an outstanding career as a player and a coach.
Whiteley, 87, made 418 appearances for the Black and Whites during his career. A one-club man in his playing days, he won the Rugby League Championship twice with Hull in 1956 and 1958.
Former players, historians, statisticians and administrators, who must each have at least 20 years involvement in the sport, vote on Hall of Fame inductees, with Whiteley achieving the honour this time around three years after Shaun Edwards and Albert Goldthorpe became the 24th and 25th players to be elected.
“Every time I look at that medal it makes me smile as I think of what a wonderful journey I’ve been on,” Whiteley told Hull Live.
“It’s the highest accolade you can achieve in rugby league. The quality of players and people involved on the night was incredible. It brought so many rugby league giants together. To be one of the prominent parts of the evening really did make me feel proud.
“From being a youngster all I wanted to do was play in that black and white shirt. I could have gone in different directions but for some reason that urge to play Boulevard in front of all those wonderful people was a big draw.
“To be a local boy and to get picked to play for Hull Football Club gave me so much pleasure. What that did is open every door in the city for me and gave me a lot of pride.”
After landing 15 Great Britain caps as a player, Whiteley went on to coach the Lions and still stands as the last coach to win an Ashes series in Australia. Even to this day Whiteley still teaches best practice when it comes to conditioning.
“Rugby league is a team game and over the years I’ve been involved with a lot of good people,” Whiteley added. “I have coached all of my life. I have always been interested in the physical and the conditioning side of things.
“Getting an honour at my age as well almost reinvigorates you as well. I still do sessions now at the gym and I’m 88 in two weeks’ time, so I don’t think I’ve done badly.”
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