James Roby lifts the Challenge Cup in 2021
James Roby lifts the Challenge Cup in 2021

Having hung up his boots at the end of last season after a glittering career, rugby league legend James Roby has been honoured once again by St Helens Borough Council.

With James’ journey with Saints taking him down a long road over 18 seasons leading to six Super League Grand Final wins, eight League Leaders’ Shields, four Challenge Cups, two World Club Challenges – as well as a number of personal accolades including Man of Steel and winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice – the council has fittingly renamed A570 St Helens Linkway, ‘James Roby Way’ – with road sign sponsorship coming from English Cities Fund, the council’s strategic regeneration partner.

Running from Junction 7 of the M62 (Rainhill Stoops) to Cannington Roundabout, James Roby Way is the latest tribute the council has paid to the one-club legend, who holds most appearance records for both Saints and the whole of Super League, after he was officially granted Freedom of the Borough – the highest honour a council can bestow – at the end of last year.

Commenting on the reason to rename St Helens Linkway – a key route on the local network more than 5k long – after the former Saints number 9 and captain of the unprecedented ‘Four-midable’ Super League Grand Final-winning teams, St Helens Borough Council Leader, Councillor David Baines, said:

“Saints hold a special place in the history and hearts of our community. For 150 years they have been part of the fabric of St Helens and it is absolutely right that we recognise their importance in any way we can. Renaming the main linkway from the motorway to the ground is a great way to do that.

“In deciding on a name, who better than the greatest of all time. I know there will always be a debate about who that is but, in my mind, it’s settled – it’s James Roby. He is the club’s all-time record appearance maker and in a career spanning two decades he won every trophy possible and lifted them all as captain. His achievements will be remembered for as long as the club and the town exist.

“James is extremely humble but his influence on St Helens as a place, the club and the game of rugby league deserves nothing but the highest praise which is why we’re delighted to honour him in such a way – the James Roby Way. I’d like to thank Saints, the Saints Heritage Society, local businesses and the ward councillors for their backing with this, and also English Cities Fund for their kind sponsorship of the new road signs.

“This is an opportunity to recognise one of our most famous residents who has set a tremendous example for two decades, and to let everyone know that we are proud of our rugby league club and proud of our community.”

Reacting to the news, James Roby said: “I am hugely humbled and proud to receive such an accolade from my hometown. I have been overwhelmed by the response of everyone following my final season in the Red Vee.

“I would like to thank St Helens Borough Council for this honour, it is something I will cherish for a long time into the future.”

St. Helens R.F.C. Chairman Eamonn McManus added: “It is more than appropriate that the St Helens Linkway is forthwith named James Roby Way.

“It constitutes due and permanent recognition of his unparalleled contribution to our club, our sport and our town.

“His achievements will never be matched and should never be forgotten. To name the principal route into the town and into the stadium after him will now ensure that.

“St Helens Borough Council are to be lauded for their judgment and action in ensuring that James is given such deserved prominence.”

Alex Service of the Saints Heritage Society said: “James Roby is a local born phenomenon, whose achievements for St Helens R.F.C. in one of the toughest contact sports is virtually beyond equal.

“James is held in high regard by the rugby league community; a devoted family man he is the undoubted role model for any young player to aspire to, not just in the red vee of St. Helens R.F.C. but at any professional rugby league club.

“He has been a perfect ambassador in a sport that has given our team and our town recognition on the regional, national and world stage.

“It seems fitting that his many achievements will be commemorated for posterity with part of the Linkway being re-named in his honour. A marvellous tribute indeed and richly deserved.”

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