Albert Orton, Blair Swannell, Freddie Blakiston, Peter Larter and Barry Oldham will all be inducted into Northampton Saints’ Hall of Fame on Thursday evening.
The quintet of legends will be honoured alongside Keith Barwell OBE, Ian Hunter and Steve Thompson (who were announced as inductees last month) at the special event this week at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
After taking a three-year hiatus, the celebration is back for 2022 and this year’s dinner includes a champagne reception and three-course dinner in the Rodber Suite.
The Club’s Hall of Fame features many of the world’s greatest-ever players, with 21 former Northampton stars inducted since its inception in 2004. To see the Hall of Fame inductees in full, please visit CLICK HERE.
This year’s dinner will see Barwell, Hunter, Thompson, Orton, Swannell, Blakiston, Larter and Oldham – eight Northampton legends who all made massive contributions to Saints both on and off the pitch – join that illustrious company.
ALBERT ORTON (SAINT #28)
Born in 1864, Orton was 14 when Reverend Wigg started the Club and – as a fine all-round sportsman – he was a regular try-scorer in the early years and captained the side for three seasons between 1890 and 1903.
But he is better remembered for his off-field exploits having held an official position at the Club from 1886 to 1922. Serving as Club Secretary and Match Secretary (or both!) until his retirement in 1922, he arranged every fixture Saints had played for 36 years.
BLAIR SWANNELL (SAINT #64)
Saints’ first-ever Lion, going to Australia in 1899 and to Australia and New Zealand in 1904, Swannell’s appearances for the Club were restricted to 116 due to travelling the world in the merchant navy – but he made his mark.
A legendary character, he was loved at Saints but feared by opponents. His record with the Lions is as good as any, playing in seven Tests and winning six.
After the 1904 tour he stayed in Sydney and became the first Saintsman to play for the Wallabies. Having earlier served in the Boer War, Swannell joined the Australian Infantry in 1914, but was killed by a Turkish sniper while leading his men at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
FREDDIE BLAKISTON (SAINT #494)
Blakiston played flanker for Saints, England and the British & Irish Lions, but showed his true heroism during WW1 as he rescued wounded men when an ammunition delivery to the front line was attacked by the Germans. He was subsequently awarded the Military Cross.
Since 2018, Saints’ playing squad takes part in an annual preseason challenge in Blakiston’s honour – which has so far been won by Dan Biggar, Reuben Bird-Tulloch, Piers Francis and Alex Coles (twice).
PETER LARTER (SAINT #1321)
Lock Peter Larter racked up 132 appearances for the men in Black, Green and Gold after making his debut in 1964.
But he also excelled on the international stage as he won 24 caps in the second row for England and was selected to tour South Africa with the British & Irish Lions in 1968 – playing in the Port Elizabeth Test which ended in a 6-6 draw.
He played for Saints while based at RAF North Luffenham, and also represented the Royal Air Force and Combined Services, before going on to become Club President after he had hung up his boots.
BARRY OLDHAM (SAINT #1322)
With 337 appearances and 185 tries to his name in a 14-year Saints career, Barry Oldham deserves to take his place amongst the pantheon of Northampton greats.
With only Billy Kingston and Teddy Cook ahead of him on the Club’s all-time top try-scorer’s list, it looks increasingly unlikely Oldham’s tally will ever be surpassed by a player from the modern era.
Very much the darling of Franklin’s Gardens in the early 1970’s, Oldham still holds the record (jointly, with Frank Packman) for the most tries in a single season – he crossed the whitewash an incredible 33 times in as many matches during the 1969/70 campaign.