Halifax RLFC

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Halifax RLFC
Halifax RLFC Logo.png
Club information
Full name Halifax Rugby League
Football Club
Nickname(s) 'Fax'
Website halifaxrlfc.co.uk
Colours Faxcolours.svg
Founded 1873
Current details
Chairman Michael Steele
Coach(s) Richard Marshall[1]
Captain(s) Scott Murrell
Competition Kingstone Press Championship
2014 RFL Championship 3rd
Premierships 4 (1902-03, 1906-1907, 1964-65, 1985-86)
Challenge Cups 5 (1902-03, 1903-04, 1930-31, 1938-39, 1986-87)
Yorkshire Cup 5 (1908-09, 1944–45, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1987-88)
Charity Shield 1 (1986)
Regal Trophy 1 (1971-72)
Co-operative Championship 1 (2010)
National League Cup 1 (2012)
Most capped 482 - Stan Kielty
Most points 2,191 - Ronald 'Ronnie' James

Halifax RLFC is one of the most historic rugby league clubs in the game, formed over a century ago in 1873. Halifax are also one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world's first rugby league clubs. They have been Rugby League Champions four times and have won the Challenge Cup five times.

They have rivalries with local neighbours Bradford and Huddersfield. Halifax have also formed a Championship rivalry with Featherstone Rovers due to events over the past 3 years when the clubs have clashed.

Known as 'Fax', the official club colours are blue and white hoops, white shorts and blue and white socks (hence the short-lived nickname the Blue Sox). They share the Shay stadium with football club F.C. Halifax Town.


Early years[edit]

The club was founded as Halifax in 1873. After becoming the first ever winners of the Yorkshire Cup in 1878, the club went on to win it on another four occasions. Several players were supplied to the Yorkshire County side in these years, and five were picked for the full England rugby union team. In 1886, the club moved to their traditional home of Thrum Hall, this would be their home ground for the next 112 years. The first game was played on 18 September 1886 against Hull FC and drew 8,000 spectators.

The Halifax club were founding members of the breakaway Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. In 1896, Halifax lost out on winning the first ever Rugby Football League Championship by a single point with Manningham F.C. becoming the inaugural champions. On-field success continued, producing one of their best ever teams in the early years of the 20th century. In 1902–03 they achieved the 'double' by winning the Challenge Cup and finishing top of Division One. They won the cup again the following season, and were the first ever Championship play-off winners in season 1906–07.

Under the disciplined leadership of Dan Jenkins, Halifax enjoyed their first Wembley Challenge Cup final victory; beating York in 1931. After trailing 8–5 at half time, 17 unanswered points in the second half led to a 22–8 victory, as the cup came to Thrum Hall for the first time since 1903. An estimated 100,000 people lined the route to a civic reception at the town hall. But this victory was followed by four seasons of relative decline as Halifax drifted down the league.

Towards the end of the 1937 season, Streatham and Mitcham folded after just one full season in the league. The club had made a number of high-profile signings from the New Zealand All Blacks, including George Nepia and Charles Smith. The players now joined Halifax and the team building continued with the signings of more players.

In 1938, Halifax reached the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, after winning three replays in a row, before they were knocked out by Barrow at Fartown (Huddersfield) in the dying seconds of the game.

Success came in 1939 when Halifax became the last team to win the Challenge cup final before the war. Favourites Salford were beaten 20–3 in front of a record 55,453 spectators.

Post Second World War[edit]

During the late 1940s and the 1950s Halifax were amongst the game’s strongest sides, pulling in average crowds of over 11,000.

In 1947 Halifax's Hudson Irving died from a heart attack while playing at Dewsbury.[2]

In 1949 Halifax's David Craven died after breaking his neck playing against Workington Town.[2]

The 1949 Challenge Cup final was sold out for first time as 95,050 spectators saw Bradford Northern beat Halifax.

During the 1950s they were Championship runners-up three times, two Yorkshire Cup final victories against Hull in 1954 and 1955, and Yorkshire League winners four times in 1950, 1953, 1954 and 1956. Halifax remained unbeaten at their home ground of Thrum Hall between December 1952 and November 1956. They played in a Wembley final of the 1953–54 Challenge Cup, featuring in the first ever drawn final against Warrington in 1954, losing in the replay at Odsal Stadium, Bradford in front of what was then a world record rugby league crowd officially given as 102,569, although estimates suggest another 20,000 plus entered unofficially.

After securing a Yorkshire league and cup double in 1955–56, the club was in sight of winning all four cups. Wembley was reached after a thrilling Challenge Cup 11–10 semi-final victory over Wigan at Odsal. Fax’s hopes of success were increased further by a 23–8 Championship success against Challenge Cup final opponents St Helens in the Championship semi final. However, St Helens ran out 13–2 winners in the Challenge Cup. A week later, Halifax came close to victory in the Championship match against Hull at Maine Road, Manchester but a last minute penalty goal secured a 10–9 victory for Hull.

In 1959 Halifax hosted Wigan before a club record 29,153 people in the third round of the Challenge Cup.

Halifax was hit hard by the financial situation of the late 1960s and 1970s. Fortunes on the pitch suffered as the shortfall was met by selling players. In 1970, a concert was held at Thrum Hall in an attempt to alleviate these financial troubles. Horrific weather conditions meant that only around 3,000 arrived to watch the 'Halifax Pop and Blues Concert' which made a loss of £6,000.[3]

Despite victory in the inaugural Regal Trophy final (then Players No. 6 Trophy) in 1971–72, financial problems continued for the next decade. In 1983, local businessman, David Brook provided much needed investment in the club.[3]

Chris Anderson was player-coach of Halifax from November 1984 to May 1987 when he retired from playing to be coach in 1987–88. He enjoyed great success including winning the League Championship title in 1985–86, the 1986–87 Rugby League Challenge Cup victory against St. Helens and a second successive appearance in the Challenge Cup final in May 1988 when they lost to Wigan. Despite this on-field success, Halifax were banned from signing new players by the RFL after complaints of non-payments in November 1988.

In 1989, John Dorahy took up a position as captain-coach of Halifax for the 1989–90 season. Halifax players threatened strike action over unpaid wages in April 1990. The club sold Neil James for £20,000 to pay wages but were still in financial trouble including an unpaid tax bill of £70,000. Halifax went into the hands of receivers, £760,000 in debt, a take-over bid having failed after the players refused to take a pay cut. The club was re-formed and the assets were purchased by the Marsland/Gartland consortium of local businessmen.

Peter Roe was appointed as head coach at Halifax for season 1990-91 when they achieved promotion along with Salford who were their opponents in the Divisional Final at Old Trafford. The club's record victory was set in October 1990 with an 82–8 win over Runcorn Highfield at Thrum Hall. Roe was removed from office 24-hours later when he refused to re-apply for his own job. The Halifax board stated that he did not have the required experience for a club in the top division.

Roger Millward took the coaching job at Halifax, but was only there 17 months before resigning. Malcolm Reilly became the coach in 1992. In August 1993, in financial trouble again, Halifax put seven players on the transfer list for a total of £170,000.

Summer era[edit]

Halifax Blue Sox club logo

In 1996, the first tier of British rugby league clubs played the inaugural Super League season and changed from a winter to a summer season.[4] In the lead-up, the Halifax President, Tony Gartland, and former Chairman, Peter Marsland, left the board over plans to merge with rivals Bradford Northern and join the proposed Super League as single club.[5]

Halifax joined the Super League in 1996, the local newspaper did a poll of suggested nicknames for the club with Halifax Bombers topping the list. But Nigel Wood chose Halifax Blue Sox. However, this proved to be unpopular with most supporters who continued to refer to them as 'Fax'. Halifax finished third in Super League in 1998 under John Pendlebury.

Halifax sold Thrum Hall for £1.5 million to Asda for a supermarket development in 1998, and moved across town to their present home, the Shay Stadium, which they share with FC Halifax Town. The proceeds from the sale were supposed to enable Halifax RLFC to make a contribution to the costs of a redevelopment of the Shay stadium, but the money was swallowed up by debts.

Under chief executive Nigel Wood, Halifax went to Jacksonville University, Florida, to help develop American rugby league, along with Salford in 2000.

Steve Linnane joined the club as assistant coach from Rochdale Hornets and took full charge after Gary Mercer's resignation.[6] With the club threatened again by financial problems and the danger of relegation Halifax sacked coach Steve Linnane in August 2002, the morning after a 64-0 loss to St. Helens, which came after nine losses from ten games which put the club at risk of relegation. Replacement Tony Anderson signed a deal that covered the four remaining matches of this season.[7]

The club returned to the traditional Halifax RLFC. at the start of 2003. At the end of the 2003 season they were relegated from Super League to National League one. Halifax's financial troubles meant they were unable to retain a full-time team and they struggled in the new league. They narrowly avoided a second relegation to National League 2 in 2004, with a last-gasp victory in a play-off with York City Knights.

Anthony Farrell was asked to become temporary coach until the end of the year following the sacking of Tony Anderson. After saving the club from relegation the following season and taking the club within a whisker of a place in the grand final where they lost out to Castleford. The year after was less successful and after a poor series of results including a club record loss to Hull Kingston Rovers, "Faz" eventually lost his job. Martin Hall took over the role of head coach in June 2006.[8]

In August 2006, Halifax RLFC was on the verge of going bust. The club announced that it needed to raise £90,000 otherwise it would go into liquidation. Rugby league fans nationwide rallied behind 'Fax', and through visits to the ground, during home fixtures, and other fund-raising events, were able to raise £55,000. Former Chairman Howard Posner then came forward and announced that he would loan the club the remaining £35,000 in order to keep Halifax RLFC alive. This ensured that Halifax RLFC would be playing in National League One during 2007.[9] Martin Hall took up the post of director of football in October 2006. Assistant coach Matt Calland was then named the new head coach of Halifax RLFC.

In the 2009 Challenge Cup Halifax came within moments of reaching the quarter-finals, losing by one point in extra time to Castleford. They also lost the final of the Co-Operative Championship to Barrow Raiders 26 -18.

In 2010, Fax won the Co-Operative Championship, beating Featherstone Rovers 23–22 in the final after extra time. It was the first trophy Halifax had won in 23 years.

In 2011, Halifax reached the Northern Rail Cup final at Bloomfield Road, losing narrowly to Leigh Centurions in the last minute. They were also unable to defend their Championship title, losing heavily to Sheffield Eagles in the play-offs. Karl Harrison took over as head coach at the end of the season.

The following season, Fax made it to the final of the Northern Rail Cup but this time were victorious over favourites Featherstone beating them 21–12 in a match watched by over 7,000 spectators.

2015 squad[edit]

* Announced on 23 January 2015:

2015 Halifax RLFC squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain

Updated: 23 January 2015
Source(s): 2015 Squad Numbers

2015 transfers[edit]


Player Club Contract length Date
England Tommy Saxton Featherstone Rovers 1 ½ Years July 2014
Cook Islands Adam Tangata Mount Pritchard Mounties 2 Years September 2014
England Chris Taylor Whitehaven RLFC 2 Years September 2014
England Miles Greenwood Batley Bulldogs 1 Year October 2014
England Ryan Maneely Warrington Wolves 2 Years October 2014
Australia Matt Place Mount Pritchard Mounties 2 Years October 2014
Italy James Saltonstall Warrington Wolves 2 Years October 2014
Australia Mitch Calahane Mount Pritchard Mounties 1 Year October 2014
England Richard Moore Hunslet Hawks 2 Years October 2014
England Alex Brown Leigh Centurions 2 Years October 2014
England Andrew Dixon Salford Red Devils 1 Month Loan January 2015
England Rikki Sheriffe Bradford & Bingley RFC - Player Coach 1 Year January 2015
England Jacob Fairbank Huddersfield Giants 1 Month Loan February 2015


Player Club Contract length Date
England Wayne Reittie Batley Bulldogs 1 ½ Years July 2014
England Ryan Fieldhouse Dewsbury Rams 2 Years September 2014
England Luke Adamson London Broncos 1 Year September 2014
England Ben Davies Whitehaven RLFC 2 Years September 2014
England Jarrod Ward Oldham Roughyeds 1 Year September 2014
England Sam Brooks Rochdale Hornets 1 Year September 2014
England Callum Hughes Swinton Lions 1 Year September 2014
England Danny Cowling Doncaster RLFC 2 Years October 2014
England Rob Worrincy Sheffield Eagles 1 Year October 2014
England Tony Tonks Sheffield Eagles 2 Years October 2014
England Simon Brown Hunslet Hawks 1 Year October 2014
England Callum Casey Hunslet Hawks 1 Year November 2014
England Paul Mennell Retired N/A January 2015
England Rikki Sheriffe Keighley Cougars 1 Year Loan February 2015
England Peter Fox

2014 club staff[edit]

Coaching team[edit]

Nationality Name Position
England Richard Marshall Head Coach
England Marlon Billy Assistant Coach
England Martin Gonzalez Player Performance Manager and Under 23's Head Coach

Backroom staff[edit]

Nationality Name Position
England Tony R Abbott Director
England Ian Croad Director
England Mike Riley Director
England Michael Steele Director

Youth and community development[edit]


Blue Base Study Support Centre was a community sporting initiative sponsored by Halifax RLFC, and part of the national Playing For Success educational scheme launched for school pupils to interact with professional sports teams, to help provide motivation to young people. Locally, Blue Base was working with an initiative established by the DfES, in partnership with Calderdale Children and Young People's Services and Halifax RLFC. The funding ceased in March 2011, when the Blue Base Centre closed.

The centre existed to support Calderdale schools in their drive to raise attainment levels with their pupils. This is achieved by developing young peoples' levels of motivation, self-esteem and helping them to have a more positive attitude towards learning by concentrating particularly upon literacy, numeracy and the use of ICT.

Retired player, Frank Watene, leads Calderdale Community Coaching Trust which is the Club's Foundation providing a wide range of educational programmes designed to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles amongst people of all ages in the Calderdale area. Activities include Touch Rugby League, healthy heart circuit training and an 'Over 50s Club which plays Kurling at The Shay Stadium.


Original Mascot: (100 years ago) Smut the Cat[10]

Recent Mascots: Billy & Bluey, Fat Cat, Bruno the Bear.

Present Mascots: Halicat.

Major honours[edit]

Past coaches[edit]

All-time statistics[edit]


Goals: 14, Bruce Burton at Hunslet, 27 August 1972
Tries: 8, Keith Williams v Dewsbury, 9 November 1957
Points: 32, John Schuster at Doncaster, 9 October 1994


Goals: 156 Graham Holroyd 2008
Tries: 48, John "Johnny" Freeman 1956–57
Points: 362, John Schuster 1994–95


Goals: 1,028, Ronald "Ronnie" James 1960–72
Tries: 290, John "Johnny" Freeman 1954–67
Points: 2,191, Ronald "Ronnie" James 1960–72

Halifax appearances[edit]

Career: Stan Kielty 482 (1946–58)
Season: John Thorley 48 (1956–57)
Consecutive: Richard "Dick" Davies 108 (1925–28)

Representative appearances[edit]

Great Britain: Karl Harrison 11
Great Britain: Ken Roberts
Great Britain: Terry Fogerty
England: Alvin Ackerley 6
Wales: Arthur Daniels 13
Yorkshire: Archie Rigg 14
Lancashire: Ken Roberts 4
Cumberland: Alvin Ackerley 13

Highest score[edit]

94–4 v Myton Warriors (Challenge Cup) 25 March 2012

Biggest loss[edit]

6–88 v Hull KR (Northern Rail Cup) 23 April 2006

Record crowd[edit]

29,153 v Wigan (Challenge Cup) at Thrum Hall 21 March 1959

All club statistics are courtesy of Andrew Hardcastle (Official Club Historian)(amendments required)

Players earning international caps while at Halifax[edit]

Halifax RLFC Hall of Fame[edit]

Other notable players[edit]

These players have either; played in a Challenge Cup, Rugby Football League Championship, Yorkshire Cup, or Yorkshire League final, played during Super League (Super League I (1996)) -to- Super League VIII (2003)), have received a Testimonial match, were international representatives before, or after, their time at Halifax, or are notable outside of rugby league.


  1. ^ "Coaching Staff". Halifax RLFC. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Baker, Andrew (20 August 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". Independent, The (London: independent.co.uk). Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Becoming a Director". Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Dave Hadfield (20 December 1995). "Rugby's pounds 87m deal gives Murdoch transfer veto". London: The Independent. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Hadfield, Dave (22 April 1995). "British tours will survive the Super League fall-out". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Mercer willing to play on". BBC News. 3 April 2001. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Halifax give Linnane the boot". The Daily Telegraph (London). 25 August 2002. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Hall replaces Farrell at Halifax". BBC News. 15 June 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Posner secures Halifax survival". BBC News. 8 September 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "100-year-old postcard that inspired the new Halifax RLFC mascot". Retrieved 4 September 2013. 

External links[edit]