The Betfred Championship season is entering its final four weeks. Toronto Wolfpack currently sit proudly at the top of the table with 33 points from eighteen games, with a spot in the Qualifiers now secured.
Below them, the battle for the final three places could not be tighter. Over the next week, we will be looking at the teams eager to secure one of the final three spots, including their form, star men and remaining fixtures- today’s look is at Halifax RLFC.
Halifax RLFC History
Founded in 1873, Halifax Rugby League Club are one of the original 22 clubs who formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895.
The club has seen its fair share of success over the years being crowned Rugby League Champions on four occasions (1902-1903, 1906-1907, 1964-1965 and 1985-1986) and Rugby League Challenge Cup Winners on five occasions (1902-1903, 1903-1904, 1930-1931, 1938-1939, 1986-1987).
Rugby League has some great old stadiums that have disappeared over the years and many Halifax fans will remember Thrum Hall with great fondness as it was Halifax’s home for 112 years. With the closure in 1999 they moved in with their neighbours, Halifax Town FC, to start a new era at the Shay and were known as the Halifax Blue Sox from 1996-2002
Stand Out Player Past or Present
When you look at the list of great players, many great names spring out, such as Mike Umaga, the great John Schuster and of course Karl Harrison.
Prop Forward Harrison, who was born in Leeds in 1964, made his playing debut for Bramley in 1985. After spells with Featherstone Rovers and Hull FC, he joined Halifax for the start of the 1991 season.
He was capped for the Great Britain Lions 14 times between 1991 and 1994 and also for England on six occasions. Karl would leave Halifax in 1998 playing one final season with Hull FC before finally hanging up his boots. Nevertheless, he made a lasting impression on Halifax during his time at the club.
However, their standout player is considered by many a true pioneer of the sport; the mercurial Stanley Gene. Stanley retired from Rugby League after playing the final season of his career with Halifax.
Born in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, Stanley Gene joined British Rugby League after the 1995 Centenary World Cup and had many successful stints with clubs in English rugby, although he only played in 11 games for Halifax, crossing the line three times before hanging up his boots.
Halifax fans still got to see a true legend and pioneer for the sport of Rugby League before he would call time on his playing career, something which their fans will never forget.
Currently flying the flag for the two part time teams at the top of the BetFred Championship, some would say that Halifax are a model of how to build from within.
Looking at Halifax’s remaining fixtures, they have already beaten Barrow and Rochdale and would expect to beat both teams again- they are already halfway there after overcoming the Raiders 48-22 on Sunday.
Here lies the toughest test for Halifax as they have been dealt three very tough weeks in between. Featherstone Rovers and Toulouse Olympique will visit The Shay, with a trip to Ealing and the London Broncos sandwiched in between.
Featherstone will still be smarting from the narrow loss at the Championship Summer Bash and both teams will be looking to win the rubber match in this best of three as Featherstone Rovers beat Halifax at home on the opening day of the season.
Halifax edged a tight affair at home against London, with London fighting for their play-off lives. That game has the potential to be one of the great games of the season so far.
Part Time consistency paying off
Halifax have proved again this year that you don’t need to spend a huge amount to build a team that can be consistent and contend against the division’s full time squads for a place at the top; don’t forget that two full time squads currently sat below them in the Championship standings.
This model of consistency is why they currently occupy the final place for the qualifiers slot. The fact that they have gone out and done this on a limited budget and built from within has made this season yet another success for Halifax- regardless of where they may end up in a few weeks time.