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Brian Nordgren
Posted by Bilko on October 21 2008 - 01:58
Position: Winger
Wigan Playing Career: 1946-1955
Wigan Debut: 3rd April 1946 v Warrington (H) - Lost 4-7 (Wilderspool)
Last Wigan Match: 18th April 1955 v Rochdale (A) - Lost 7-12 (Athletic Grounds)
First Wigan Try: 13th April 1946 Twice v Bramley (H) - Won 71-0 (Central Park)
Last Wigan Try: In Last Match

Year by Year Record
1945-1946 9 8 27 78 League Champions (1), Lancashire League (1)
1946-1947 38 29 - 87 League (2), Lancashire Cup (1), Lancashire League (2)
1947-1948 19 18 - 54 Lancashire Cup (2)
1948-1949 16 21 - 63 -
1949-1950 42 57 - 171 League (3), Lancashire Cup (3), Lancashire League (3)
1950-1951 45 46 3 144 Challenge Cup (1), Lancashire Cup (4)
1951-1952 34 39 - 117 League (4), Lancashire Cup (5), Lancashire League (4)
1952-1953 35 47 5 151 -
1953-1954 24 25 4 83 -
1954-1955 31 26 73 224 -
Totals 293 316 112 1172 -

Brian Nordgren

Brian Nordgren died age 81 in June 2007. Here's an obituary as printed in the New Zealand Herald Newspaer:

Brian Nordgren was one of the finest New Zealand league players never to play for his country. He played instead for the English club Wigan, from 1946 to 1954, scoring 312 tries and kicking 109 goals in 294 appearances.

He scored five tries in a game on three occasions, and in the 1949-50 season scored 57 tries.

Nordgren's signing by Wigan caused some tension between the New Zealand Rugby League and the English club.

A signing ban between New Zealand and Australia and the English league had been set up in 1937 to stop poaching of antipodean players.

But the ban lapsed in 1941, and Wigan had no compunction in getting their hands on Nordgren.

He had played one season for Auckland club Ponsonby in 1945, during which he scored a record 267 points.

In his time with Wigan, he played in two Challenge Cup finals at Wembley, losing to Wakefield Trinity in 1946 but beating Barrow in 1951.

The 1946 defeat was a shattering blow to Nordgren, who declared himself "the unhappiest man in London".

His long-range penalty goal, estimated by Nordgren to be about 54m, missed, giving Wakefield the win 13-12.

In a 1991 interview, he said he thought about that kick often.

"If we were getting the sort of money they are now, I probably would have thought about it even more."

As it was, the Wigan players got £5 each, instead of the £25 they would have got had they won.

Nordgren's time in England wasn't all devoted to league. He studied law at Liverpool University and was called to the bar in 1951. He returned home in 1954 to practise in Hamilton.

He is survived by his daughter Anne, son Robert, and two grandsons.

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