By Paul Abraham
Bramley RLFC were in the headlines in August 1946 when they signed the Reverend David L Evans, who was nicknamed “The Flying Parson”.
Below are some of the reports of his signing and televison appearance in London. There seemed to be some mystery over his actual age and, despite all the publicity, he failed to make an appearance for the Bramley first team who already had quality three-quarters in the shape of goal-kicking centre Jack Gibson, the Australian Bob Bartlett and local speedster Ernest Humphreys, so his opportunities would have been limited especially as it was an era before substitutions.
Was it all a publicity stunt or a genuine signing? Whichever, he got Bramley in the spotlight.
Halifax Evening Courier – Wednesday, 28 August 1946
A 23 year old clergyman, the Rev. David L Evans who’s speed on the wing has earned him the title of “The Flying Parson” has been signed by the Bramley Rugby League Club. Before taking up his ministerial duties at Burstall, he assisted several Welsh Rugby Union Clubs Blaenavon and Briton Ferry.
Bradford Observer – Thursday, 29 August 1946
The Rev David L Evans, nonconformist minister of Birstall, has signed as a professional for Bramley, but will not receive a signing-on fee, though he will get the normal playing terms. Evans, who was nicknamed “The Flying Parson” when playing rugby union in Wales because of his speed, says, the money he will receive will help him in the organisation of various youth and sporting clubs attached to his Gospel Temperance Mission.
“Flying Parson” August 30th 1946
The Rev, David L Evans, paster of the Gospel Temperance Hall at Birstall, Yorkshire, has signed on as a professional for Bramley Rugby League Club. 28 years of age, the pastervis married and has three children. He has earned the title of “Flying Parson” from his prowess as a wing three-quarter. The Church Governors have raised no objections to the Rev-Evans using football as a means to strengthen his income. He is the first minister of the Gospel ever to sign professional Rugby League forms.
“The Flying Parson” photographed at the Bramley Rugby Ground.
Bradford Observer – Friday, 6 September 1946
Bramley’s Flying Parson is televised
Rev DL Evans, who signed professional forms for Bramley Rugby League Club, yesterday went to Alexandre Palace, London, to appear on the television Picture Page programme for his television interview with Mr Wynford Vaughan Thomas.
Twice yesterday the Rev David Evans, minister of Birstall Temperance Hall, went before the television cameras at Alexandra Park, London to explain how at the age of 31 he has taken up Rugby League Football, joining Bramley with the nickname the “Flying Parson”. Mr Evans had taken his rugby kit with him, but it was decided he should appear in a black suit.
Mr Evans related the history of joining Bramley, although he actually prefers soccer. He said he joined Bramley only to show that clean living can enable a man to keep fit enough to play a highly competitive sport against men much younger.
Asked if he maintained very strict rules of training, he replied “Not really, as you have probably guessed, I don’t drink.” His advice was “Live cleanly, think cleanly, and you will act cleanly.”