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Halifax Courier - - Nostalgia -

at­tack­ing full­back Joe Kilroy and for­wards Cav­ill Heugh and Geoff “Wild Man” Robin­son.

There was a long list of do­mes­tic sign­ings too, with scrum half Gary Stephens join­ing from Leigh for a bar­gain £4,000 and goal-kick­ing full­back Colin Whit­field com­ing from Wi­gan for a club record £25,000.

Sec­ond-row for­wards Paul Dixon, from Hud­der­s­field, and Neil James from Castle­ford, were joined by Brian Juliff, from Wi­gan, and John Cross­ley from Brad­ford North­ern.

Dick Fairbank signed from lo­cal ama­teur side El­land and for­mer Hal­i­fax player Mick Scott re­turned to Thrum Hall from Wi­gan for £9,000. Fi­nally, crowd pleas­ing winger Wilf Ge­orge signed from Widnes for £13,000.

David Brook’s tar­get for 1985-6 was a mod­est top eight place. Things started badly with a 12-12 draw at Old­ham fol­lowed by three straight de­feats at Widnes and Sal­ford and at home to lowly Dews­bury. That left Fax 15th in a 16-strong divi­sion.

But sud­denly the new-look Hal­i­fax started to click and the team strung to­gether an im­pres­sive run of 14 un­beaten games – 12 wins and two draws – which saw Hal­i­fax rapidly climb the ta­ble. The high­lights in­cluded a rare win over Leeds at Head­in­g­ley, 22-20, fol­lowed by an epic 12-12 home draw against mighty Wi­gan, both in De­cem­ber, which took Hal­i­fax into the top three.

A 16-10 win at Swin­ton on New Year’s Day 1986 lifted Fax to sec­ond and four days later, faced with an ice­bound Thrum Hall, Hal­i­fax took their play­ers and fans to Leeds and de­feated St He­lens by 27-18 in a “home” match played on the heated Head­in­g­ley pitch.

That vic­tory took Hal­i­fax to the top of the ta­ble for the first time and, apart from two brief dips to sec­ond place, stayed there for the rest of the sea­son. In fact Hal­i­fax lost only twice more in the league, in­clud­ing at St He­lens by 22-10 in March. The other de­feat, in bit­ter Jan­uary, was against Widnes, by 15-8, in a home match played at, of all places, Hal­i­fax Town’s Shay sta­dium, when ex­posed Thrum Hall was again ice­bound. While other clubs had built up a back­log of fix­tures caused by the weather, Hal­i­fax had moved heaven and earth to get them played, a fac­tor came to be seen as help­ing the club to win the cham­pi­onship.

In Fe­bru­ary Fax played an­other epic match against Wi­gan, draw­ing 6-6 in an as­ton­ish­ing de­fen­sive per­for­mance at Cen­tral Park in front of 19,102 fans. Then came the de­feat at St He­lens but af­ter that Fax won six straight matches, ham­mer­ing Hull KR and Castle­ford away from home and over­com­ing Swin­ton, War­ring­ton, York and Brad­ford at Thrum Hall.

Hal­i­fax re­mained top of the ta­ble as the cru­cial fi­nal league match against Feather­stone drew near at the end of April . . .

Score draw: the Thrum Hall score­board and part of the 7,465 crowd at the end of Hal­i­fax’s match against Feather­stone Rovers. The 13-13 score gave Hal­i­fax the cham­pi­onship and saved Feather­stone from rel­e­ga­tion. Both sides scored two tries, two con­ver­sions and one dropped goal, so the Hal­i­fax goal tally should read 3 rather than 2. Left: crowds gave the Hal­i­fax play­ers a hero’s wel­come as they rde through the town cen­tre to a re­cep­tion at Hal­i­fax Town Hall

ss that led to his hich took the club to ley ground be­cause

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