When you talk about great forwards who have pulled on the famous black and white jersey, the man on top of the list is bound to be Nat Silcock.
Nat, who lost count of the number of appearances he made for Lancashire, was one of the few forwards to go on two tours Down Under while on the Naughton Park staff.
He toured 1932 and 1936 and was later followed by Jim Mills and Mick Adams who is the only forward to have appeared in more Test matches. Nat, a mountain of a man, who had tremendous power and pace, played 12 Tests from 1932-37. Adams had 13 appearances but two of these were as a substitute, so perhaps Nat could claim some sort of record as the 'most' capped Widnes forward. In those days of course, there were not the number of Tests that we have today. France weren't playing Rugby League then and there was no Papua New Guinea either.
Nat played two Tests each against New Zealand and Australia in the 1932 tour; all three when the Kangaroos came here a year later, all three in Australia in 1936 - when he was accompanied on the tour by the great Tommy McCue - and two in 1937. He was on a losing side on only two occasions. But the 1936 tour probably resulted in the big man missing out on perhaps the most coveted medal of all. In the days of a championship play-off, Widnes lost to Hull while Silcock and McCue were on tour. "If we had been playing in the final I'm sure Widnes would have won the title for the first time," he said.
It was, however, against the Australians in 1929 that Nat pulled off a feat which many old timers talk about today. As the 1930 Wembley souvenir put it in his pen picture: "Combining weight with speed, Silcock has distinguished himself in the new style of forward play. He has some spectacular tries to his credit and the wonderful way in which he overtook speedy Australian wing threequarter (Finch) will long be remembered."
Silcock played in the second row in that Wembley Challenge Cup final against St. Helens. It was the first time Chemics had even been in the final but they pulled off what is regarded in RL history as one of the greatest Wembley shocks with a 10-3 triumph. The Widnes team of local lads - only South African Van Rooyen was an outsider - beat a star-studded Saints side 10-3, all the points coming in the first half.
Four years later Silcock had moved up to the front row, but his second Wembley trip ended in disappointment as Widnes lost 11-5 to a Hunslet side who played with 12 men for half the game because of a shoulder injury to Morrell, sustained as he scored a try. Nat had only three years to wait for another Wembley trip. This time he went as captain and led Widnes to a great 18-5 win over Keighley and put the icing on the cake by getting the fourth try.
Nat regarded that as possibly the greatest moment of his career. It was a career which started in 1922/23 and ended suddenly in the 1938/39 season.
"I woke up one morning before a Warrington match with pains in my chest. The doctor said that I had an internal problem and that my career was over". Unfortunately in later life he suffered badly from arthritis. Sadly he reflected: "The conditions we played in were terrible at times. You couldn't get a proper bath and often in cold water. There are times when I wished I had never played the game".
Thankfully Widnes followers of the 20's and 30's were glad he did - one of the greatest players of all time. A giant if ever there was one.© This text has been taken from the Widnes R.L.F.C Hall of Fame Brochure which was written by Sam Patmore, Ron Girvin, Stephen Fox, John Potter & Chris Moore.