ONE of the really great players of the modern era in rugby league, Paul Sculthorpe, is a most worthy recipient of an MBE in the New Year’s honours list.
If the purpose of the honours system is to mark a career of significant achievement which, in Scully’s case, reflects not only his towering feats of skill and courage on the field, but also his long record of hard work for charities off the field, then this MBE is richly deserved.
It is also a testament to one of the other really outstanding features of Scully’s career, which is his closeness to the fans and his cheerful readiness to give them his time.
In a period when too many sportsmen have become self-serving and remote, Scully represents a better approach, which is not only an acknowledgment that without its fans, professional sport is nothing, but, more importantly, reflects the qualities of a man who has remained down to earth, friendly, helpful and good natured despite all the fame and the back slapping.
As a player, he is one of the best I have ever seen, and certainly one of the few British players who would have made it into an Australian XIII. When in his pomp at loose forward for either St Helens or Great Britain, Scully was a magnificent athlete.
He won the Man of Steel trophy twice, he captained his club to every trophy in the sport and he represented his country with great distinction.
He had every one of the essential attributes needed to play rugby league at the highest level – size, speed, power, skill, toughness and an indomitable will to win, and he was lucky enough to play in a Saints team which was full of other talented players.
I am not sure exactly how to address someone who has just been awarded an MBE, but when I next see Scully I shall make sure that it is a litre of diesel (perhaps even turbo diesel) and not just a pint: he knows what I mean, and like every other fan of the great game of rugby league I just want to say well done Scully, top man!