Hassan's finest Fax moment

For all the tryscoring exploits of Halifax wingers over the years the nearest that we have seen to a good old fashioned hat-trick in recent years occurred on the last occasion that Hull KR came to town in winter.

That was 11 years ago, in February 2000, when the Robins visited the Shay in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup and the player in question was not one of the usual suspects but rather Phil Hassan.

He scored three times from the right wing in the opening 27 minutes, running towards the South Stand, and there was considerable speculation in the press box at the time that they had been his only touches of the ball!

Hassan never became a fans favourite but he had a hard task filling the position previously held by the likes of Nick Pinkney, Fereti Tuilagi and John Bentley.

Gary Mercer had played with him at Leeds and he wasn't the only former Rhino signed by "Ming" as Marvin Golden also made his Fax debut in the same cup tie.

Jonathan Scales was another former colleague from Headingley to appear that season, a third attempt to sign a finisher on the flank.

And don't forget that Danny Ellison had also arrived.

Hassan had actually played as a trialist for Halifax seven years previously before plumping to sign for Leeds after they offered him a package, including payment of his university tuition fees, a topical subject even now!

He had been spotted playing junior football in Wigan by a scout called Dennis Maddock who was almost a living caricature, being a wizened old bloke with only a handful of teeth who tended to sidle up to you and talk out of the side of his mouth whilst gripping your elbow with surprising strength.

John Fieldhouse was a friend of Maddock, who also had a Welsh wife and therefore spent a lot of his time in the Principality as well as prowling touchlines in South West Lancashire.

Every so often he would ring the club excitedly to report that he had spotted a star of the future playing in the Abertillery second team or whatever.

He wasn't really encouraged however; the club had caught a cold with Matthew Silva and then the Allan Agar inspired signing of Wasps fullback Steve Pilgrim so union players were not exactly the flavour of the month in the Thrum Hall boardroom unless they were local lads like Carl Gillespie!

Or Jim Naylor who also popped up for a memorable short spell a month later in 2000 after Hassan's heroics.

For the record the team in that first competitive match of a new century on February 13th was Damian Gibson, Hassan, Martin Pearson, Jamie Bloem, Golden, Greg Florimo, Andrew Dunemann, Brett Goldspink, Paul Rowley, Jim Gannon, Mercer, Stephen Holgate and Marty Moana with Danny Fearon, Andy Hobson, Gael Tallec and Daryl Cardiss starting on the bench.

A crowd of 4,295 saw Hassan's heroics and a similar attendance for Sunday's friendly would be more than welcome!