The RFL today marks Rugby League stalwart Mary Sharkey’s retirement from Wigan Warriors, after more than four decades of unsung service, by adding her to the sport’s Roll of Honour.
Mary, who joined Wigan as an Office Junior under her maiden name of Charnock in July 1981, has worked in a variety of roles at the Club – Club Secretary, Football Manager, Chief Executive, Director and Chief Administrator. She has been a constant and influential figure through years which included both unprecedented success and some more turbulent times, earning the trust and respect of all at the Club – players, coaches and administrators alike.
Mary Sharkey becomes the 45th name – and the seventh woman – on the RFL’s Roll of Honour, which was introduced in 2003 to recognise individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the game across both playing and off-field service.
Ralph Rimmer, the RFL Chief Executive, said: “All those involved at Wigan for the last four decades know the importance of Mary Sharkey’s contribution to the Club, and she is a perfect example of the RFL’s motivation in establishing the Roll of Honour in 2003 – to allow a wider appreciation of such unsung heroes of our sport.
“She joins a very distinguished group of people, and an even more select band of women – all of whom have been pioneers in different ways before Rugby League’s recent evolution to become a more inclusive sport.
“On behalf of the RFL and the sport of Rugby League, it is a privilege to recognise Mary’s contribution, to thank her for it, and to wish her a happy and fruitful retirement.”
Wigan insiders have shared with us that Mary’s first experience of the Club was an unexpected delay to her interview at Central Park with Maurice Lindsay – then a member of the Board of Directors – who was distracted by other matters and inadvertently kept her waiting for more than an hour. Maurice would go on to joke, as Mary became a trusted colleague, that he had been impressed by her stickability.
Jack Hilton was then Chairman, the first of seven with whom Mary worked, followed by Lindsay, Jack Robinson, Peter Norbury, Arthur Thomas, Mike Nolan and, for the last 15 years, Ian Lenagan. Her work at Wigan has ensured she is well-known and respected throughout Rugby League, as she has devoted so much of her life to the sport – while also volunteering for various other organisations in the Wigan community.
She became Mary Sharkey when she married Mike in June 1994 and they have a daughter, Rhian.
RFL Roll of Honour in full
2022: Mary Sharkey
2021: Tony Martin
2020: Emma Rosewarne; Tony Collins; Joseph Platt
2019: Peter Charlesworth; Pat Crawshaw; Stuart Sheard
2018: Stephen Ball: Clare Morrow
2016: Gary Haigh
2015: Martin Blondel; Dave Hadfield; Eddie Hemmings; Robert W Stott
2014: Natalie Gilmore MBE; Ron Girvin; Keith Burhouse
2013: HH Judge James Spencer; Tim Adams MBE
2012: Ray Unsworth; Mike Nicholas; Ron England; Jackie Reid MBE; Andrew Cudbertson
2011: Martin Coyd OBE; Raymond Fletcher; June Kennedy
2010: Neville Smith
2009: Ron Earnshaw; Peter Fox; Fred Lindop MBE; Vic Wakeling
2008: Ray French MBE; Hilda Hardy; Mike Stephenson
2007: Douglas Hird; Tony Gartland; Stan Wall
2005: Maurice Oldroyd; Bev Risman OBE; Harold Swift MBE; Johnny Whiteley MBE
2004: Tommy Sale
2003: Frank Myler