BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Halifax

 

BIG MATCH PREVIEW by Peter Woodroofe

Halifax v Moseley , National League 2, Saturday, 1 April, 3.00pm

Memories…

It was a splendid occasion at Billesley when the two clubs met in League rugby for the first time on December 3 last – especially for the ‘alickadoos’ of both clubs.

Memories of the time the two clubs met in the quarter-final of the first RFU Cup competition on the 4th March 1972 abounded when it was found that Moseley’s President JAN WEBSTER and the President of Halifax CHRIS MELLOR had both played in that match, as did Moseley’s Director and chief Executive DAVE WARREN.

Halifax had qualified for the Competition as Yorkshire Cup winners and had defeated Gosforth and West Hartlepool to reach the quarter-finals. Moseley had defeated Northampton and Bedford, both at The Reddings.

Fine win

The game was played in atrocious conditions with a thunderstorm before the match and wind, rain and snow during it. Halifax included seven county players, but were up against a Moseley side that included internationals KEITH FIELDING, JOHN FINLAN and JAN WEBSTER. SAM DOBLE was to win his first international cap three months later in South Africa and NIGEL HORTON was in the United in a squad system basis on that day!

Moseley’s handling in the conditions was outstanding and they scored four tries, two of them against the wind and slope in the first half. Centre ALAN HILL’s through-kick was picked up by MALCOLM SWAIN who went over. SAM DOBLE kicked a penalty and from a pass by JAN WEBSTER on the blindside, he brushed aside would-be tacklers to score.

In the second half, snow started to settle on what was left of the grass surface, but Moseley produced a 10-pass movement finishing with KEITH FIELDING going over. Doble, who had missed converting all the tries, kicked another penalty and continued to influence the game – he finished by coming into the line to put over winger ROY KERR. (a try was worth four points in those days). Moseley went on to beat Wilmslow in the semi-final, but lost to Gloucester in the final, finishing the match with 12 players.

Internationals

Halifax’s best known international players are HARRY WILKINSON, an outstanding wing forward who won four caps and scored England’s two tries in his first game, an 8-3 win against Wales at Twickenham in 1929.

MICHAEL CAMPBELL-LAMERTON won 23 caps for Scotland while playing for Halifax, The Army and London Scottish. He led the British Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1966. PHIL HORROCK-TAYLOR played for Halifax before representing England at fly-half when at Cambridge University, Leicester and Middlesbrough.

Yorkshire Cup

Halifax have won the Yorkshire Cup 11 times and won the Powergen Intermediate Cup in 2001-2.

Upwardly mobile

Halifax entered League rugby in 1987-88 in North 2. After relegation to North East One in 1997-8, three successive seasons of promotion took them to National 3 North in 2002-3. A key player for a decade, 1995-2006, was winger or full-back AARON CANNING who has scored over 1,000 points and over 50 tries, a club career record.

In 2003-4, Halifax were very unlucky not to achieve promotion. In a titanic struggle with Waterloo, they lost out to promotion from National 3 North on points’ difference, both clubs losing just one game away to each other. With home advantage in the play-off, they lost to Launceston 16-18. No mistakes last season, they won the League by a clear 24 points and promotion to National 2 in their own right, with fly-half DOUGLAS SANFT the leading points scorer with 270 and full-back ANZAC LUTERU scoring most tries, 21, both Samoans.

Stable squad

The Director of Rugby KEVIN McCALLION has in the main kept faith with the squad that won promotion. Newcomers include TOM EATON, a scrum or fly-half from Rotherham, winger WILL GREENWOOD, from Oxford Harlequins and props ANDY GRAVILL from Stourbridge, ROD LATHAM from Orrell and flanker DAN SOLOMI who had an outstanding game in their vital 32-7 win over Harrogate.

Struggles

They have found the going hard this season in the struggle to get out of the bottom three. However, recent better form has edged them higher and an excellent 26-8 win away to Barking last weekend has made them safe from the drop. They are in ninth place on 46 points with a W9 D1 L12 record.

DOUGLAS SANFT and TOM EATON are their highest points scorers with 80 apiece, though Aaron Canning took over kicking duties last weekend and potted four penalties and two conversions for a total of 16 points.

Bright eyes…

Whatever the result, Paul, the Moseley coach driver will be pleased with a famous son of Halifax who on a particularly dark night nearly drove off the road. The eyes of a cat walking towards the car reflected the headlights and Percy Shaw invented the ‘cat’s eye’, which was taken on board by James Callaghan, the Junior Transport Minister, in 1947. He was rewarded with an OBE in 1965.

The punchline was produced by a North Country comedian: “If the cat had been facing the other way, would Percy Shaw have invented the pencil sharpener?” Don’t blame the writer – blame Ken Dodd!

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