Seven of Rugby Leagueâ€™s most celebrated heroes will be in attendance with specific roles at Magic Weekend, the seventh staging of Super Leagueâ€™s two-day extravaganza, when the event returns to the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, this weekend.
Rugby League legends Andy Gregory, Lee Crooks, Bobbie Goulding, Mike Nicholas, John Kear, Johnny Whiteley and Billy Boston will be on hand throughout the weekend, when they will use all their considerable experience and knowledge of the game to determine the official Heinz BIG man of the match in all seven fixtures.
Each legend will take on the task of selecting the outstanding individual from one of the seven games played, with Goulding adjudicating on Catalan Dragons v London Broncos, Kear on Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Whiteley on the Hull derby, Crooks on St Helens v Warrington Wolves, Gregory on Salford City Reds v Widnes Vikings, Nicholas on Bradford Bulls v Huddersfield Giants and Boston choosing the man of the match in Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors.
â€œWe are delighted to have some of the most recognisable and successful individuals in the history of the game involved during the Magic Weekend,â€ said RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood.
â€œMagic Weekend is one of the marquee events in the Rugby League calendar and it gives me great pleasure to see an additional element added to an already impressive weekend of Rugby League action.â€
Rugby League fans are also being invited to get involved in the man of the match debate by tweeting their nominations for the individual award in each game.
Fans can tweet the name of the player they feel should receive the accolade by using hashtag #MagicMan and their thoughts will be shown to each legend before they make the final decision.
Tickets for the 2013 Magic Weekend start from Â£30 adult and Â£15 concessions for the day and just Â£45 adult and Â£22.50 concession for the whole weekend.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk
All seven Magic Weekend fixtures will also be broadcast live and exclusively on Sky Sports.
A brief biography of all seven Magic legends can be found below:
Billy Boston – Boston made his first team debut for Wigan against Barrow in 1953 scoring a try in the process. Boston went on to play for Wigan for the next 15 years, playing his last game for the Cherry & Whites in 1968. Eric Ashton and Billy Boston combined on the right hand side for Wigan forming one of the most successful wing/centre combinations of all time.
Boston was renowned for his pace, a mesmerising side step and the able to hand off opponents with ease.
Boston also played 31 games for Great Britain and was the first player to score four tries in a game against New Zealand.
In total Boston scored a record 478 tries for Wigan in 488 games, a record that has never be broken. Boston also twice equalled the then Wigan club record of seven tries in game, only surpassed since by Martin Offiah and Shaun Edwards.
Billy Boston played in Wigan’s 9â€“13 victory over Workington Town in the 1957â€“58 Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium. In total Boston played in 6 Challenge Cup Finals collecting 3 winners medals in the process.
Boston received an MBE for services to the game in 1986 and was one of the first people to be inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame in 1988, an achievement he also repeated when inducted into the Wigan Hall of Fame along with Shaun Edwards in 1998.
Mike Nicholas â€“ Nicholas made his debut for Warrington in 1972 and played for them all the way through to his last game for the club in 1980. In total the forward made 152 appearances for Warrington scoring 14 tries and eight goals. Nicholas also played in the club’s victory over Featherstone Rovers in the 1974 Challenge Cup Final.
During his career at Warrington he won caps for Wales and went on to manage the Wales Rugby League team.
Bobby Goulding – Goulding played most famously for St. Helens in the Super League. He also turned out for Wigan, Leeds, Widnes, Huddersfield, Wakefield Trinity, Salford, Leigh, Rochdale Hornets. As a player, Gouldingâ€™s biggest achievement came when he captained St Helens in their double winning year of 1996.
He once kicked 11 goals in a Super League match for St Helens. Goulding captained St Helens in the 1996 Challenge Cup Final, kicking four conversions and helping his team to a 40-32 victory over Bradford. He set the record as the highest points scorer in one game for Great Britain – 32 points V Fiji in 1996. At the end of Super League’s first season, Goulding was named at scrum half back in the 1996 Super League Dream Team.
John Kear – Kear took over the coaching reigns at Sheffield Eagles in 1997, taking them to the Premiership semi-final in that year. A year later Kear led Sheffield Eagles to an almost unthinkable victory in Challenge Cup final victory over Wigan, a triumph is still regarded to be the biggest shock in Challenge Cup history.
He was coach of the England team in the 2000 World Cup, leading them to the semi-finals.
Kear moved on to a First Team Coach role at Hull, working with Shaun McRae, stepping up to Head Coach in 2005, leading the club to victory over Leeds, by 25-24 in the 2005 Challenge Cup in his first season. The following year Kear left Hull to take charge of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats where he steered the team clear of relegation with four wins from the last six matches of the season, culminating in the great escape and condemning Castleford to relegation to National League 1.
In 2009 Kear led Wakefield Trinity to 5th position, their highest ever Super League finish.
Lee Crooks – Crooks played at representative level for Great Britain, England and at club level for Hull, Western Suburbs Magpies, Balmain Tigers, Leeds, and Castleford, as a Prop or in the Second-row. Crooks captained Hull during the 1985â€“86 and 1986â€“87 seasons.
Lee Crooks played in four Challenge Cup finals, including, Hull’s 14-14 draw with Widnes in the 1982 Challenge Cup Final, and the subsequent 18-9 victory over Widnes in the replay at Elland Road, the 14-12 defeat to Featherstone Rovers in the 1983 Final at Wembley. Crooks appeared as captain for Hull in the 24-28 defeat to Wigan in the 1984â€“85 Challenge Cup final and made his last Challenge Cup final appearance in Castleford’s 12-28 defeat to Wigan in the 1992 Final.
Andy Gregory – was the first man to win the Lance Todd Trophy twice, first player to win five Challenge Cup Final winners medals and the first player to play in eight Challenge Cup finals.
Gregory played for Widnes from 1980 until 1984. In total, he played 141 games for Widnes scoring 43 tries, as well as representing GB whilst at the club.
At the start of the 1984-85 season, Gregory moved to Warrington. Before leaving Warrington in 1986, he played 60 games for the club as they won the 1986 Premiership Trophy Final against Halifax.
Gregory signed for his hometown club, Wigan, in 1986 for a reported then world record fee of Â£130,000. He made an immediate impact as he won the 1987 Player of the Year award, an achievement all the more special as Wigan went on a run of 29 consecutive wins during the season. In 1988, Gregory kicked a goal in Wigan’s 32-12 Challenge Cup final win over Halifax, winning the Lance Todd Trophy for the first time, a feat he repeated in 1990 as Wigan thumped Warrington 36-14.
Gregory had a successful career at Wigan, playing 182 times for the club and winning numerous medals and trophies including the World Club Challenge, five Challenge Cups, four Championships, two Regal Trophies, two Lancashire Cups, the John Player Trophy, and a Premiership.
Johnny Whiteley – Whiteley played 15 seasons for Hull from 1950, making 417 appearances in total and scoring 156 tries and 2 goals. He captained Hull from 1956, winning the league championship in that year thanks to Colin Hutton kicked a last-minute penalty in the final against Halifax. Whiteley won the league championship for the second time in 1958 when Hull beat Workington Town in the Final. The following year, 1959, Whiteley and Hull lost the Challenge Cup final to Wigan at Wembley.
Whiteley was a member of the last Great Britain team to beat Australia on home soil in the 1959 test series, scoring the try that beat the Aussies that year.