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No player encapsulates the spirit of international Rugby League more than Andy Gregory, the Lion-hearted scrum-half who won 26 caps for Great Britain and who never gave less than 100 per cent playing for his country.
Almost 30 years after his finest hour in the Test arena, the midfield dynamo is wearing the Great Britain badge with pride again after becoming an ambassador for a new heritage clothing range launched by the Rugby League Lions Association.
Produced by Ellis Rugby, the range features polos, hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts and jerseys that will be a sure-fire hit with fans of all ages.
The designs are based on the kit worn by Great Britain between 1985 and 1989, including the 1988 Lions tour when the national team went the closest they had come since 1970 to wresting the Ashes from Australian hands.
Coached by Malcolm Reilly, the Lions were unlucky to lose the opening Test 17-6 in Sydney but were never in the hunt in Brisbane two weeks later when Australia wrapped up the series with a 34-14 win.
That defeat led to the smallest crowd in Ashes history turning out for the third match of the series at the Sydney Football Stadium where fewer than 16,000 people witnessed a match that was to earn a deserved place in Test history.
With a handful of players absent through injury, Great Britain were dismissed as a basket case: rarely can an international team have had so much to prove.
However, with Andy Gregory in imperious form, the Lions roared to stun Australia and complete a 26-12 win that featured two tries from Henderson Gill, the second of which prompted a famous celebratory dance described by the TV commentator as a ‘bit of a boogie.’
Andy, who set up tries for Martin Offiah, Gill and Mike Gregory to be a deserved winner of the man of the match award on that fateful day on Sydney, has fond memories of a match that was broadcast live in the early hours of the morning on BBC TV.
“To play for your country in Australia against the world champions is something every player wants to do: to beat them in Sydney is something most players can only dream about,” he said.
“It’s a pity it was the third Test really. It’s an experience I will never forget. I also played at Wembley in 1990 when we defeated Australia but the Sydney win was something else.
“We had a great set of lads who, thanks to Malcolm Reilly, were in the right frame of mind for the third Test. Everybody did their job that day and I just feel proud to have played my part in it.”
The Lions Association will receive a commission from each sale of the new range, which is available to buy online from Ellis Rugby and from selected club shops. The proceeds will then be donated to Rugby League Cares to help fund the charity’s player welfare programme.
“It’s great to be part of something like this that puts money back into the game for such a great cause,” said Andy.
“Players involved in most other sports get looked after properly but rugby league was lagging behind until RL Cares came along.
“It’s a tremendous move by the Lions Association. Since I finished playing I’ve had my own challenges and RL Cares has helped look after me.
“There are lots of other players, past and present who benefit from the support of RL Cares and I am delighted to promote this new range.
“It’s cracking gear that raises money for a cracking cause and celebrates a team that I think was very special.”
Full details of the RL Lions Association heritage range can be found on the Ellis Rugby website