Karl: A record breaking bargain

Karl Harrison could well be the centre of attention this week.

He is expected to be at Friday's Nineties Nostalgia Night and will be in the opposing dugout on Sunday when Halifax travel to Mount Pleasant for their second pre-season friendly.

He was certainly the subject of the largest cheque that this writer has ever written.

That was in July 1991 and was made out to Hull FC to the amount of one hundred and seventeen thousand, five hundred pounds. That represented the transfer fee for "Rhino's" registration of 100k plus VAT.

It is still a club record cash purchase. Graeme Hallas cost 105k when he signed from Hull KR in November 1992 but a 35,000 valued Rob Hutchinson was included in that deal.

And although Paul Broadbent was allegedly valued at 250k in December 1998 (signed from Sheffield directly to replace Harrison) Simon Baldwin, Daio Powell and Martin Pearson all went to the Don Valley in lieu of any cash.

Was Harrison a bargain at that six figure sum?

Most people would probably say yes as Fax got over 200 matches in eight years out of a prop who was also an inspirational leader.

His signing certainly represented a sea change in transfer policy for the club after their promotion.

The previous record had also been for a number eight who became captain when Brendan Hill moved from Bradford for 90k in January 1989 but when the new board took control in 1990, whilst it was common knowledge within the game that they had resources available to dabble in the player market, their first signings were very low key.

Indeed in many ways Halifax gained a reputation for signing players from clubs who needed to sell, or in the case of Greg Austin from Hull KR, give away.

So Jimmy Irvine and Dave Watson also arrived from struggling Rovers whilst Alan Platt and Peter Brown were both purchased from debt ridden Leigh.

The purchase of Harrison, Hallas and others like Gary Divorty and John Bentley (100k for the pair from Leeds) and Mark Preston (50k from Wigan) tended to change that perception and Fax could have beaten Harrison's fee when they offered big money for Wakefield's Nigel Wright in the summer of 1993 and to Widnes for Bobbie Goulding a year later.

Both deals foundered however and the last big transfers were probably those which saw Pearson come from Featherstone in 1996 and Graham Holroyd from Leeds plus Daryl Cardiss from Wigan at the same time as Broadbent came to the Shay.

There was a spell where Halifax tired of spending/offering money though and looked to recruit from overseas instead.

Disillusionment with the tribunal system after the club thought that they been harshly done to following adjucations over fees for the likes of Greg Pearce, Paul Moriarty and Grant Anderson saw attention turn to Australia and Samoa.

For example Halifax were quoted 80k by Hull for fullback Richard Gay when a replacement was needed for Steve Hampson in 1995; they got Mike Umaga for effectively nothing.