Grandson of St Helens legend ‘can’t wait’ to line up against the Challenge Cup holders for Whitehaven

Generations collide in the Betfred Rugby League Challenge Cup at the Recreation Ground this weekend.

<p>Young Alex Bishop (insert) and grandad Tommy Bishop scoring a try for Saints in the 1960s</p>

Young Alex Bishop (insert) and grandad Tommy Bishop scoring a try for Saints in the 1960s

No one is more excited about the prospect of facing Challenge Cup holders St Helens on Saturday than Alex Bishop, who’s enjoying his first season in British rugby league at Whitehaven after moving from Australia.

Grandson of 81-year-old Tommy Bishop - who enjoyed legendary status during his time playing for hometown club St Helens in the 1960s and a winner of Challenge Cup and Championship honours - he spoke to ‘the head of the family’ earlier in the week about the nostalgic forthcoming tie in West Cumbria.

“Grandad, who still retains a St Helens accent, is very excited about it all,” admitted Alex.

‘’When I signed for Whitehaven, he told me it was the most lovely part of the UK to live, except St Helens apparently. I’m not sure about that – Brisbane is quite nice. He told me it was beautiful but when I arrived it was hail stoning.”

The 27-year-old hooker or half back added: “Grandad told me to take Saints on, be as fit as I can on the day and something may happen around me.

“In the past, I played some massive games in Australia but none bigger than this, particularly from a family and sentimental point of view, and I can’t wait to test myself against the best

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“There is no better opposition than the three-times champions. We have to give it a red-hot crack and see what happens.”

Tommy Bishop played in the 1960s and 1970s and coached in the 1970s and 1980s.

He played for Saints, Blackpool Borough, and Barrow in the English Championship and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the NSW Rugby League Championship.

He also represented Great Britain in his career, skippering them on two occasions, but fell in love with Australia, coaching several clubs Down Under and now lives in retirement at Redcliffe, Queensland.