KEITH NELLER MEMORIES
KEITH NELLER MEMORIES
“When you talk about characters and personalities in and around rugby league teams, it isn’t just the players that are part of that. It’s everyone involved. David Brook (club president and main sponsor during the 80s) was an incredible character. He was passionate, driven, and when he believed in something he went at it 100%. Jack Scroby and the Doc (club doctor Steve Thornber) were great characters, and of course the three Stooges! – Stan (Hardy), Cov (Phil Coventry) and Ned (Kelly)! I think those three were such a special part of what was happening at the time.
I remember sitting next to Stan at Warrington. It was only my third or fourth game for Halifax and Stan, as only he could, was effing and blinding about beating them for the first time in 20 years. I can’t remember if he was chuffing on his pipe at the time. Little did we know that he’d get used to winning over the next few years.
Its obvious that your favourite memories revolve around success and good things, so winning the Challenge Cup is right up there. I also have great memories about the people that I shared those times with. We were lucky that we had a very strong group, from Brooky and the board down through Chris (Anderson, player-coach) and Jack to us players and the backroom staff. We all enjoyed each other’s company. Very different personalities among us, but when we came together, be it on the footy field or in the pub, we got along and did our best. We had respect for one another. Without a doubt though my favourite memory of my time in Halifax is of the people of the town and the passion they have for their rugby league team, and the joy they get out of them doing their best. That sea of blue and white at Wembley will stay with me forever.
I went back to Australia and played for the Gold Coast team (now NRL team the Titans). For the last 20 odd years I’ve had a milk distribution business – yes, ‘The Cow’ delivers milk! I had a passion for surfing but I’ve had to give it up – my knees won’t take it – so I’ve donned the lycra and cycle instead.
I’m still in touch with many at the club. I guess that’s the positive thing about Facebook; its so much easier to stay in touch. Here at home I see Wombat (club legend Graham Eadie) and ex Fax players Bob Grogan and Bob Arnold. In the last few years we’ve had Mick and Jane Scott come and stay. Then big Roy Dickinson saw the light on and popped in for a couple of weeks. I’ve seen Roy a few times over the years since; usually he’s been riding his Harley Davidson!
Mark Preston Memories
Joined Halifax from Wigan in June 1991
I have to say this is so difficult as I had some fantastic memories over the years at Halifax ,working with great players, coaches and support staff. I mustn’t forget the support as well, which was incredible both home and away and it made me feel very special indeed
The memory that sticks out though was actually a second half performance at Headingly on Good Friday 1992, against a star studded Leeds team, which included Bentos, John Gallagher and Ellery Hanley to name a few. From memory we were trailing at Half Time but in the second half we played towards the Fax faithful that filled that end of the ground. We blitzed the second half and couldn’t do anything wrong! There was the infamous Henry Sharp try when he left Ellery Hanley for dead. I scored one from a Leeds kick off after great work from Richard Milner and Greg Austin to put me in, in the corner. Then finally, with about a couple of minutes to go Bentos fielded a kick for Leeds behind his own line, our chase was good, he threw the ball to John Gallagher who missed it and I tapped the loose ball forward and scored, probably my easiest try for Halifax but what a feeling…..beating Leeds, on their own patch, in front of thousands of Halifax fans and on Sky.
There are times as a player when mentally you feel like you will not lose a game and I remember that feeling in the second half, I don’t know what it was but when we went in front I knew we would win the game and I think that was replicated throughout the team, as we played with so much confidence. A night to remember, the final memory is getting into the bar looking forward to a celebratory drink, only to find that my driver aka my father in law had had a number of celebratory drinks, so I suddenly became the designated driver for the evening
JOHN BENTLEY MEMORIES
JOHN BENTLEY MEMORIES
Here’s his memories of his time at Halifax.
“The first thing I want to say is that the years I spent at Halifax were the happiest I had anywhere as a player, and I enjoyed every minute. I’d played for Leeds, who were a big city club, but I felt that Halifax were much more like a family. They were ambitious too, which is something that appealed to me. I spent several seasons at Halifax under a few coaches, and I always tried to make the dressing room a fun place to be, and if that’s how people remember me then that’s great. I’ve always believed that if the dressing room is smiling it helps you get through adversity and the tough times. I remember once I set off a load of fireworks on the training pitch, and sometimes I used to chase people around in my police car. Good times!
There were some real characters in the team; people like Bondy (Mark Preston), John Schuster, Mike Hagan and our captain Karl Harrison, who I used to tease for being grumpy all the time. I remember when the club signed Paul Bishop I was worried because when I played against him I’d always found him a real niggler, but I have to say he was great to have as a teammate – it’s a real shame he disappeared off the scene.
I find it impossible to pick just one memory from my time at Halifax. I certainly enjoyed my debut, when we beat Leeds, the team I’d just left.
I remember a televised game against Warrington when I beat about five of their players to score a try – I think that match helped me get selected for the GB international squad.
As a player, I was only on the winning side against Wigan twice; once for Leeds and once for Halifax. In that game we were winning 18-2 when I headed a pass from Steve Hampson and got sin binned by Colin Morris, the referee. Our coach at the time was Steve Simms, and he told it was the most stupid thing he’d ever seen someone do on a rugby pitch! Eventually we clung on to win 18-16, and I was the most relieved person in the ground!
I think two of our best performances were in games which people may not remember now. We went to Doncaster and beat them 72-0 – we were awesome that day. Then there was a televised game down in London, where we beat them hollow and I scored a few tries. On long trips the atmosphere on the coach is very different depending on the result of the game, so this was a good journey home!”
Sean Penkywicz Memories
Sean Penkywicz Memories
‘Penky’ had a Fax career which spanned 12 years, in two spells at the club, and was known for his scampering runs from dummy half which gave many an opposition defence the jitters. He also racked up almost 100 tries for us – pretty impressive for a hooker, and gained international honours with Wales. Amazingly, he’s still playing over 20 years after his Fax debut – he’s joined up with his old coach Matt Calland at Rochdale for 2021. Here’s what he has to say about his time at the Shay, and THAT game in particular.
‘We felt we’d been unlucky the year before when we lost the Championship final to Barrow, and we were determined to put it right this time around. We were a great team – well coached by Matt Calland, and we liked to throw the ball around. Our attitude was that if they score 30, then we’ll score 40. We had the players to do it; blokes like Shad Royston and Rob Worrincy. There was a good atmosphere at the club – we were all mates off the pitch too, and that was a big plus.
We’d started well – everyone remembers Rob’s length of the field try – but then Featherstone came back at us and half way through the second half we were 22-4 down. Even then we still had the spirit and belief that we could win; we knew we had the flair and skill to do it. We scored three converted tries and took the game to Golden Point extra time. You know the rest – Ben Black popped over the winning drop goal, and we’d done it. Graham Holroyd always says that it should have been him who scored the winning points though!
I had some of my best times at the club; they gave me my first chance as a professional. We were like a big family with some fantastic back room staff like Stan and Hilda, Ned and Cov. Ned still gives me chewing gum whenever I see him now!
STEVE TYRER MEMORIES
STEVE TYRER MEMORIES
“Every one of my memories of Halifax are positive. I was treated well and looked after from the minute I set foot in the club to the minute I left. Originally I only signed for a season; to be honest I wanted to get back into Super League. As the season went on I felt so much at home, and coupled with the success we had in winning the Northern Rail Cup, I decided to get rid of my agent and signed a contract for another two years. After that I never even spoke to another club until I left.
I worked under three great coaches. They all brought a different culture to the club, but cultures which were right at the time. Karl Harrison talked about the importance of having each other’s backs; Richard Marshall and Simon Grix have built on that by concentrating on hard work and togetherness.
I’ve played with some fantastic characters too. When I arrived Sean Penkywicz and Lee Paterson were around and were setting a great example, and since then we’ve had real leaders like Ben Kaye and Scott Murrell. Muzza was amazing – he could be a right idiot sometimes, but in the whole time I played with him I never once saw him down. The whole dressing room lit up when he walked in, and he looked after every player whether they were making their first appearance or their 200th. The club won’t be the same without him.
I’d say my favourite try was one I scored against Bradford in 2015. It was an interception from the half way line, and we ended up beating them for the first time in ages. My phone was red hot that night with people ringing to congratulate me.
My favourite goal has to be one I scored against Featherstone in the 2012 Northern Rail Cup final. I’d just scored a try in the corner, and we needed the conversion to go seven points up. When it went over I saw all the Featherstone fans streaming out of the ground – a great moment!
My best memory, though, is when we went to Toulouse in 2017 and beat them. We had to win to be in with a chance of making the play offs, and we went into the game as massive underdogs. It was boiling hot, we’d travelled there on the day, plus they were a good side, and they were aiming for the play offs too. We had to defend for most of the game, but then towards the end Ben Johnston went over for the winning try. It was the best feeling ever.”