Lynch a reminder of changed times

Can you imagine the reaction, in the current rugby climate, if Halifax went out and signed a star All Black centre?

I’m not referring to John Schuster here; by the time he came to Thrum Hall in 1993 he had been a “defector” to rugby league for several years.

The man in question is Tommy Lynch and surreptitious moves were being made 50 years ago this month to approach him.

Remember that this is in an era when there was no fax, or email or even fast courier businesses for letters.

Matters had to be conducted in a clandestine manner as the player would have been barred for life by the Union authorities should there be any hint of a League connection.

The New Zealand RL authorities have always seemed to be reluctant to allow their players to move overseas.

A classic example came when Brent Stuart signed for Halifax for the 1992/93 season. The deal nearly stalled at the last minute when the NZRL suddenly demanded that they wanted a four figure “administration fee” before they would give the prop international clearance.

In October 1951 there was a need for haste.

Lynch had toured Australia with the All Blacks and scored eight tries in ten matches including two in the internationals.

Halifax fancied him along with his Canterbury colleagues John Hotop and Allan Elsom. The latter pair resisted all blandishments but Lynch signed eventually in November 1951.

It was just in time to avoid a signing ban on overseas players which became operational a couple of weeks later.

Lynch received a signing on fee of £5000 which reflected his status.

To put it into perspective, a new house in 1951 would have cost less than half of that amount!

The Halifax directors would probably tell you that Lynch was worth every penny of that initial payment.

In the next five seasons he played in three championship finals, two Wembley cup finals, a memorable Odsal replay plus two Yorkshire Cup finals.

That board had spent an awful lot of money in recruiting the likes of Des Clarkson, Albert Fearnley and Peter Todd in the same four week period that Lynch was recruited.

Cynics might say that they obviously didn’t spend any brass on the ground!

IT was an awesome team in which the Kiwi centre was a key component – although he probably wondered what he had let himself in for when he made his debut on New Year’s Day 1952 against Rochdale at Thrum Hall in some of the vilest weather seen there which is saying something!

Unfortunately an eye injury sustained in a pre-season friendly in 1956 curtailed a wonderful career.

Lynch admitted when he came over to Halifax in 1993 to be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame that he was disappointed as there was unfinished business from the 1955/56 season. Fax had won the Yorkshire Cup and the Yorkshire League, only to be beaten in both the championship final and Challenge Cup final at the end of the campaign.

So near and yet so far.