Laughton praises Offiah and Sorensen

Laughton praises Offiah and Sorensen widnesvikings.co.uk
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16th October 2018

Widnes legend and Hall of Fame member Doug Laughton has praised Martin Offiah and Kurt Sorensen, ahead of the pair being inducted into the Hall of Fame at a celebration dinner on Friday 26th October, sponsored by Money Matters.

Laughton coached both players during one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, including the famous World Club Challenge triumph over Canberra Raiders in 1989.

The former Widnes player and coach revealed that a conversation with a rugby league broadcasting legend led to the discovery of one of the sport’s greatest wingers.

“I was talking to Ray French after a game somewhere, and he said his son played rugby union and he’d played against this lad from London and hadn’t seen anyone like him before,” Laughton explained.

“He said he’d run rings around everyone and he’s playing again in a seven-a-side tournament a week later.

“I had a look and thought, wow he’s a bit special.”

Laughton was so impressed with Offiah and his try scoring prowess, that to this day he feels there are only three players he could compare to the former Chemics legend.

“I’ve only seen three people like Martin Offiah in my life, Billy Boston, Tom van Vollenhoven and Brian Bevan.

“There would be times when people would say ‘we have lost this game’ and I’d say ‘hang on, Martin hasn’t scored yet’.

“He was almost averaging a try a game, so it was just a case of finding him some space down the wing and off he went, we’re back in front.

“He was a special person, fun to manage and never any trouble.”

One of Offiah’s most defining moments was his hat-trick in 1989, as Widnes took on Wigan in a title decider at Naughton Park.

Laughton remembers a conversation with the Wigan chairman at the time, in which he warned him of the threat the Chemics possessed on the wing.

“I remember Maurice Lindsay ringing me on the Wednesday or the Thursday saying you don’t think you’re going to win do you? And I said, ‘No mate I don’t think we’re going to win, I know we’re going to win’.

“I said I’ve got a kid on the wing there that will run rings around you, and he said he will find a way to take care of him, so I just said you’ll find that hard to do.

“On that day he did just that, he was the difference, and after that Wigan were into him all the time.”

Kurt Sorensen became club captain under the tutelage of Laughton, a responsibility which was huge in a team full of stars.

Sorensen led Widnes to the Premiership Title at Old Trafford in 1988, scoring in a 38-14 victory over St Helens, and Dougie shared his pre-match talk with the Kiwi enforcer.

“I said to him before the Premiership final, ‘I’ve made you captain now get on that field, take the first ball and get it over that line’.

“I told him ‘don’t make me lose, I win, you’re not making me lose’.

“So, he went out there and did the job. Kurt was a big strong lad and he was intelligent, and he took care of the opponents in his way.”

Despite being in a team littered with stars, Laughton admitted that Sorensen stood out as the only man to lead the side as their captain.

“Being a captain is a job, it’s hard and you need to perform just like any job.

“You want your captain to stand his corner, put some big hits in and be able to shift with the ball in hand and Kurt did all of those things.

“At the time, there was only one person who could captain the side and it was him.”

Laughton’s success while head coach of the club is yet to be matched, and he felt that Offiah and Sorensen were key to starting their unprecedented run of glory.

“We had Kurt and Martin who won us our first major title.

“We did have a brilliant team around them too, but we needed somebody who could get the ball and finish, which was Martin.

“They were never any trouble off the field and they were both thorough professionals, which is probably why they ended up where they are.”

On Friday 26th October, Widnes legends Kurt Sorensen and Martin Offiah will be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame, joining an illustrious list of past players.

The event will take place in the Halton Suite at the Halton Stadium, and you can secure your seat at this historic event by purchasing your ticket now.

The black-tie event will include a two-course meal, with guests asked to arrive at 7pm on the night for a 7:30pm start. Priced at just £40 for Stronghold Members, Vikings supporters are being given a brilliant opportunity to be part of a historic night for the club.

Bookings can be made by emailing enquiries@widnesvikings.co.uk, calling the ticket line on 0151 495 2250 or in store at the Vikings Superstore, located within Tesco Extra, Widnes.

Hall of Fame Dinner

Date: Friday 26th October, 7:00pm arrival for a 7:30pm start

Venue: Marquee Suite, Halton Stadium

Dress: Black Tie

Dinner: Two Course Meal

Pricing: Stronghold Members £40, General Price £50

NOTE: GOLD TICKETS SOLD OUT

Laughton praises Offiah and Sorensen widnesvikings.co.uk