Karl takes Fax into a new era

So as one era closes, another one begins.

In a sense the final game of 2011 at Sheffield marked the end of the Martin Hall/Matt Calland phase of Halifax’s history after a period of five years.

In Chinese terms I suppose we are now entering the “Period of the Rhino”.

But Karl Harrison is by no means the first former player to return to Halifax as a coach, far from it.

And I don’t include Gary Mercer in the arithmetic who was a player who became player-coach.

Ditto Mick Blacker and Kenny Loxton.

Stars like Ken Dean and Stan Kielty, Les Pearce, Albert Fearnley, Colin Dixon, Tony Anderson, John Pendlebury, Ken Roberts and Hall himself have all sat in the dugout or at the back of the stand trying to get their message through with a radio once their playing days were over.

Some of those gentlemen were more successful than others of course.

One of the above named, when asked by bagman Phil Coventry what the team was for the following day’s game so that he could pack the right boots, remarked that he was struggling to select one.

Basically, he didn’t know what to do.

So who would “Cov” pick in the team, he wondered?

The team jointly picked by coach and bagman had 50 points put past it on the following Sunday by the way.

Fearnley, such a pugnaciously robust member of the Halifax team of the early to mid-1950s at a time when its pack was noted (or perhaps infamous) for what would these days be termed “physicality”, coached the team to a league championship success in 1965.

Dixon, who never wanted to leave the club but was sold to pay off pressing debts in 1968 (compare that with Tony Anderson’s situation at Thrum Hall in 1990) returned as coach after Roberts left in 1982 and took the team to promotion in 1984.

It was only the appointment of the “other Anderson”, Chris, that saw him lose his job in controversial circumstances.

Halifax fans for years have seen Harrison as their version of “the King over the Water”.

In a sense then it is a bit of a shock to think that it is 13 years ago this week since “Rhino” last pulled on that blue and white hooped number eight shirt.

That was on Friday, October 9, 1998 when Fax lost 30-37 at the Shay to St Helens in the playoffs.

Pendlebury’s team that night was Martin Pearson, Daio Powell, Damian Gibson, Jamie Bloem, David Bouveng, Chris Chester, Gavin Clinch, Harrison, Paul Rowley, Kelvin Skerrett, Gary Mercer, Carl Gillespie and Marty Moana with the substitutes being Des Clark, Simon Baldwin, Richard Marshall and Martin Hall.

Saints included Brett Goldspink, Paul Davidson and Karle Hammond.

It was also Daio Powell’s last match for the Blue Sox; perhaps Pendlebury had something against Leeds United fans!