ded the win­ners and losers of 1986

Halifax Courier - - Nostalgia -

played, but the time­keep­ers, one each from Hal­i­fax and Feather­stone, in­sisted there had been no er­ror and in the end Wi­gan de­cided not to press the mat­ter and, in­deed, gra­ciously praised Hal­i­fax for their ti­tle-win­ning achieve­ment.

Four days later the Hal­i­fax play­ers were given a hero’s wel­come as they rode on an open­topped bus through town-cen­tre streets lined with thou­sands of fans. Sup­port­ers, young and old, chanted “Cham­pi­ons, cham­pi­ons” as the bus made its way to the town hall for a re­cep­tion given by the Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Tom Lawler. Even hard man Geoff Robin­son ad­mit­ted the oc­ca­sion brought a lump to his throat.

For Hal­i­fax the cham­pi­onship win of 1986 was the start of a glo­ri­ous pe­riod which saw them at Wem­b­ley the fol­low­ing year, beat­ing highly fan­cied St He­lens 19-18 in the Chal­lenge Cup fi­nal in front of a crowd of 91,267.

A de­clin­ing Fax team re­turned to Wem­b­ley again in 1988 but was thrashed 32-12 by a dom­i­nant Wi­gan side which went on to lift the fa­mous tro­phy eight times in eight years.

Sadly that was the end of one of Hal­i­fax’s most suc­cess­ful pe­ri­ods and the end of a fine team with few stars. David Brook’s Aussie magic was wear­ing thin and as Chris An­der­son and other im­ports from Down Un­der re­turned home they were re­placed by lesser play­ers on ex­pen­sive con­tracts the club could ill af­ford.

Hal­i­fax’s cham­pi­ons slipped to fifth in 1987, then to eighth the fol­low­ing year. In 1989 Hal­i­fax ended up sec­ond from bot­tom and were rel­e­gated. With a strong fol­low­ing built up dur­ing the glory years Hal­i­fax were ex­pected to bounce straight back – but they didn’t re­turn to the top flight un­til 1991, by which time the club was in se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial straits.

In the leaner years that fol­lowed Hal­i­fax did well enough to win a place in the rev­o­lu­tion­ary Su­per League when it was founded in 1996 and as Hal­i­fax Blue Sox man­aged to reach third place in 1998.

But in 2003 the Fax were rel­e­gated af­ter a shame­ful sea­son in which they won only one match out of 28 and lost even those points be­cause of a breach in fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions. Fax have not been back in the big time since.

But the fans who wit­nessed the vic­tory years – like those who watched the great Hal­i­fax teams of the 1950s and ‘60s – will never for­get the thrill, the an­tic­i­pa­tion, the ten­sion and the joy of those heady days.

For a hand­ful of years in the 1980s Hal­i­fax’s suc­cess was the talk­ing point of ev­ery pub, ev­ery work­place and many homes in the district. Fax in­spired a buzz in the town that only suc­cess­ful sport­ing teams can cre­ate. The Fax faith­ful live in the hope that the glory days will one day re­turn.

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