Powell’s short memory of returning stars

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There was some hilarity in the Halifax dressing room at Featherstone on Sunday when one of the team read out Rovers’ coach Daryl Powell’s programme notes.

In them he welcomed back to Post Office Road former player Iain Morrison – but there was no mention of Ross Divorty or Dane Manning who have both played in Grand Finals for Rovers in recent seasons. Or of Paul Handforth who had a spell there.

Remember the end of season match at Featherstone a few years ago which Fax won 64-44 after trailing by 20 points at halftime?

“Tiger” received an eight match ban after being sent off by Robert Hicks for abuse to the officials in that one.

Strangely enough the Halifax ranks now include these four but players who have moved directly from Fev to Fax are relatively thin on the ground.

Plenty have ended up at Featherstone after leaving Thrum Hall/The Shay though.

Liam Finn is the obvious one but players like Asa Amone, Warren Wilson, Steve Lay, Paul Highton, Craig Dean, Carl Briggs, Danny Seal, Andy Kirk, Jode Sheriffe, Chris Birchall, Ben Feehan and Dom Maloney have all played for both.

Maurice Bamford reckoned that in his time as coach he found it hard to persuade the board to sign players from Featherstone because of the Jack Gamble affair.

Halifax had signed him from Rovers without apparently doing their homework and learning that Gamble’s mother was a renowned local clairvoyant. She used to read the player’s tealeaves before a match and predict if he would enjoy a good performance or not.

And he believed what she told him! So if she said he would get injured he wouldn’t play.

Despite this prejudice Bamford persuaded his directors to sign Dave Busfield (for the not inconsiderable sum of £5000 in the late !970’s) and the second rower played a big part in the club’s renaissance around this time.

One of the last big fees that Halifax paid before such transfers became a thing of the past came in the autumn of 1996 when Martin Pearson joined the Blue Sox for £100,000.

His agent at the time was Peter Fox and the Fax football manager was David Hobbs so the old boys network worked in Fax’s favour this time.

“Pee-wee” went on to enjoy two good seasons with the club despite being played in a variety of positions before leaving for Sheffield to make room for Graham Holroyd.

His second, shorter spell, ended in midseason in 1990.

Another player who left Fev for Fax was Adam Hayes in the Anthony Farrell era.

There have been efforts to sign Featherstone players of course.

One of the most strenuous was 20 years ago this summer when Halifax did their best to prise scrum half Deryck Fox away from Rovers.

The clubs got round to agreeing a transfer fee of £140,000 for the lad but Bradford came into the equation at a late stage and the player opted to go to Odsal.

Fax went and signed Paul Bishop instead.