Taken from the Rochdale Observer 30th November 2005
STAN Ayres, a rumbustious prop forward with Rochdale Hornets in the years just after the Second World War, has died in hospital at the age of 84.
Mr Ayres, of Meavy View Retirement Home, Milkstone Road, passed away last Tuesday, just two hours before what would have been his 85th birthday.
Born in Barrow-in-Furness, Mr Ayres was an amateur player of some repute with Risedale Old Boys before the Second World War in a team which contained many players who went on to become outstanding Rugby League stars, including Willie Horne, Barney Fogerty and Toby Mason.
During the war Mr Ayres was employed by Vickers Armstrong as a miller working on ships essential to the war effort in a town that took a fearful battering from the German air force.
But in 1946 he left his home town for Rochdale, where he had been offered an engineering job at Thomas Robinsonís, Fishwick Street.
That year he also turned professional, but was then called up for National Service by the RAF, for whom he also played rugby union with great distinction.
At the time he had only played a handful of matches for Hornets, but when he was demobbed in 1948 he became an essential cog in a team featuring such players as Walter Gowers, Wilf Lord, Bill Oxley, Freddie Lamb and Albert Fearnley.
Stan Ayres played well over 100 games for Hornets before he retired at the end of the 1950/51 season, going on to help set up an amateur rugby league team at Robinsonís.
Mr Ayres worked at Robinsonís until he was 59, when he moved to Rochdale Engineering on Rugby Road, staying up to his retirement at the age of 62.
Away from work, Mr Ayres, described in his RAF service book as a Ďcapable leader of exemplary characterí, was a hard working member of Rochdale Catholic Club, being its doorman for the best part of 20 years.
He also attended St Johnís RC Church, where he was a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society and was also a member of the Ukrainian Club.
Friends remembered him as Ďa lovely chap, a real character and a man with a good sense of humourí.
He also worked tirelessly for old people, often regaling in his nickname as the Ďpensioners helperí.
Mr Ayres, who is survived by his wife Bernadette, sons Bernard and Martin and daughters Angela and Margaret, will be buried at Rochdale Cemetery on Monday following Requiem Mass at St Johnís Church at 10.15am.