'It's a team effort': Wakefield rugby legend and wife mark 60 years of marriage

It’s said that behind every great man is a great woman, if so, then behind a Rugby League legend must be a legendary wife.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:30 pm
Diamond duo Molly and Neil Fox.

Wakefield Trinity star Neil Fox enjoyed a long and illustrious career in Rugby League and is known the world over for being the sport’s all-time points scorer.

He was made an MBE in 1983, and inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame six years later.

But reaching 60 years of marriage to his devoted wife Molly has been very much a team effort.

The couple wed on June 3, 1961 in Lupset.

Neil says he owes much of his sporting success to the support of Molly, whom he wed six decades ago on, June 3, 1961.

“She had to put up with a lot,” explained Neil, who is now 82.

“If I was playing badly and the supporters were getting on at me, she was always on my side.

“You’ve got to work together when it comes to marriage, but it helps to marry the right person!

“It’s been wonderful, I could not have asked for a nicer girl to marry. She is marvellous.”

Molly, however, admits she wasn’t much of a sports fan when they first met at a dance in Wakefield city centre in early 1961.

She said: “I did not know much about Rugby League at first, my dad used to go every week to Trinity, but I didn’t.

“If you can’t beat them, join them!

“Over the years it became part and parcel of my life.

“We have had lots of lovely times, and I’ve been to places through Rugby League, like Australia, and seen places that I would never have seen if I hadn’t married Neil.

“I have enjoyed every minute of it, I have nothing to grumble about.”

Born in Sharlston, Neil became one of Wakefield Trinity’s youngest ever players to make his debut at the age of 16.

Notably, he scored two tries and seven goals in Trinity’s 1960 Challenge Cup Final win at Wembley in 1960.

Netherton-born Molly can remember the first time they met at the Empress Ballroom on Market Street, although despite being revered among rugby fans, his status was lost on her.

“I did not know who he was at the time,” she said.

“The Empress Ballroom was where most people went in those days, it was the place to have a dance.

“Suddenly he appeared in his blazer. I only thought he was alright!

“We weren’t going out long, no more than six months before we got married.”

They took their vows at St George’s Church in Lupset and enjoyed their reception at Luspet Club, on which Molly said: “Nobody had fancy venues in those days, we were just happy to get married.”

And like many newly weds in those days, they travelled to Blackpool to enjoy a few days for their honeymoon.

They lived in East Ardsley initially, then moved to Horbury before finally settling in Kirkhamgate where they live today.

Unlike the pampered wives of multi-million-pound-earning sports stars today, Molly helped to bring money in by working at the Yorkshire Electricity Board on Denby Dale Road as a tracer in the drawing room.

They had two children and now have four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

And with the Covid restrictions now easing, and the weather turning for the better, they have been able to enjoy their family again.

Molly, who turns 81 next week, said: “I just think how lucky we are, with the pandemic we have managed to keep in touch and now that restrictions are lifting, it’s just lovely to see the family again.”

“Neil has always been very firm but fair with his children and grandchildren.”

But what has kept the pair together after all of these years?

Molly added: “I say we’ve respected each other and love each other no matter what life throws at you, for better or worse as the saying goes. You can’t go wrong with that.”