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Joe Bonnar 1948-2017 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Thursday, 16 February 2017

Landlotd Joe Bonnar.jpgJoe Bonnar, the former Whitehaven scrum-half, has died at the age of 68.


Although he only played 36 games in his 18 months at the club, he earned Whitehaven £3,250 when he was sold to Wakefield Trinity.


Whitehaven-born, Joe had played amateur rugby league with Hensingham before signing pro with the Recreation Ground club.


He made his debut as a seventeen year old in 1966, playing a total of thirty six games in the chocolate, yellow and blue shirt over the next eighteen months.


Whilst at Whitehaven, he made his Cumberland debut in October 1967 at Castleford in a 23-34 defeat by Yorkshire.


In January 1968 a Trinity deputation were sent to Cumberland to watch the Whitehaven second row forward, Matt McLeod, who they duly signed, but they also noticed a teenage scrum half called Bonnar and liked what they saw.


The following week, he followed McLeod to Belle Vue and made his debut in the league game against Hull at the Boulevard on 20th January 1968, in a 20-8 victory.


Joe partnered captain Harold Poynton at half back and he scored his first try in the cup win at Barrow a few weeks later before injury forced him to miss three games.


He was back for the cup quarter final clash with Castleford and the semi finals against Huddersfield before ankle injuries ruled him out of the most important games of the season, the 1968 ‘Watersplash’ Challenge Cup Final against Leeds, and the Championship Final against Hull KR, when Trinity retained the trophy.

The following season, he established himself as Trinity’s number one scrum half until a leg injury ruled him out for two months.

Injuries affected Joe’s next few years and he only played thirty six games in the next three seasons. 

In August 1972, Joe was fully fit again and started a half back partnership with David Topliss that saw Trinity through a successful couple of seasons in wich he played 66 times.

Injuries returned for Joe in 1974 with a back injury ruling him out for many weeks.

He played his last Trinity game in the last match of the 1974-75 season in a 7-35 hammering at Castleford in the Premiership Trophy.

In the off-season he was transferred to Halifax but again injuries hampered his appearances and he only played five games before retiring in 1976 through injury. 

Joe also had a five year representative career having represented Cumberland / Cumbria between 1967 and 1973 in the county championship.

In his time at Trinity he gained a reputation for being a tough, ‘nuggety’ scrum half who often tackled well above his weight covering out wide.

Only injuries prevented him making more than his 160 appearances in his seven and a half seasons in which h scored 32 tries.

Off the field he worked as a coal miner and ith the mines rescue team. He also worked as a plumber and was a popular landlord of The George in Dewsbury and was a keen golfer before retiring to care for his wife, Carol.

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