In Memoriam: Cliff Hill

Wigan Warriors were saddened to hear of the passing of former player Cliff Hill on Friday.

John Clifford “Cliff” Hill was the eldest of the two brothers by some three years and was born on 24th February 1943 at St Helens hospital and raised in Ashton-In-Makerfield, Wigan.

Hill was discovered by Eric Ashton playing for Newton-Le-Willows Rugby Union Club and signed for Wigan in May 1964.

His first team debut followed on 26th August 1964 in a league game at Central Park v Blackpool Borough – Wigan running out the winners by 19 points to 10. He earned the Wigan heritage number 631. Hill made his debut playing at stand off – a position he went on to make his own for many years partnering Frank Parr on many occasions as did his young brother Dave in later years.

Following the arrival of Dave Hill in 1967, the Wigan coaching staff were more inclined to utilise Cliff in the centre role and on occasions at full back. 

Cliff Hill gained four winners medals with Wigan, including the 1965 Challenge Cup win at Wembley v Hunslet. 

He made Rugby League and Challenge Cup Final history in 1970 as he became the first ever substitute in a Challenge Cup Final – replacing the injured Colin Tyrer.

On 16th January 1966, Cliff won his one and only Great Britain cap against France at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan, partnering Alex Murphy in an 18-13 defeat.

He played his final game for Wigan on 14th October 1970 v Featherstone at Central Park in a 21-12 win.

After leaving Wigan, Hill signed for Oldham in January 1971 for a transfer fee of around £2,250, becoming team captain and made 59 appearances.

Hill turned 78 earlier this year and prior to his passing regularly attended Wigan games at the DW stadium.

The thoughts of everyone at Wigan Warriors are with Cliff’s family and friends at this very sad time.

Stats and images provided by club historian, Keith Sutch.