10 NOVEMBER 1923 – TANK VAN ROOYEN WIGAN DEBUT
The legendary Wigan full-back Jim Sullivan, who played for Wigan from 1921 to 1946, remembers van Rooyen as “the most fabulous character I have known in rugby league”. He remembered a “great giant of a man... solid granite... the strongest man I’ve ever seen apart from the old music hall acts. There were times when I thought he was more than human.”
Some of the feats Sullivan could remember included carrying a bag of cement under each arm with ease, shifting snow from the pitch with a wooden plank 12 feet by seven inches; single-handedly lifting a horse out of manhole and hoisting a broken down van off its wheels.
He made 32 appearances in his first season for Wigan, scoring four tries. And honours came his way, with a Lancashire League medal and Challenge Cup winner’s medal. He played in every round of the Challenge Cup, and in the final Wigan beat Oldham comfortably at Rochdale Hornets’ Athletic Ground. Wigan won 21–4, and their main concern was whether the massive crowd could be kept off the pitch