What a call that turned out to be!

Halifax football director Chris Whiteley was probably as surprised as anyone to receive a phone call from agent Derek Parker in September 1990.

Perhaps more specifically, surprised as to the nature of the call.

Parker represented, amongst others already at Thrum Hall, centre Greg Austin who had just been released by Hull KR.

Austin was a quota player and was being sacrificed by them to accommodate prop James Goulding as they looked to beef up their pack after gaining promotion.

The former Manly, Rochdale and Salford player had scored a shedful of tries for Rovers as they went up and Whiteley was obviously interested in a class player who would cost nothing as he was being paid off contractually by the Humberside club, even keeping his club car as part of the severance deal.

The deal was done, Austin was soon settled in Todmorden and never looked back in 1990/91 as Fax surged to promotion.

His first positive contribution was a debut try off the bench on September 23rd at Bramley and his appearance helped swell the attendance to four times that of the normal home "gate".

By the time that the season was over Austin had helped himself to 40 tries in 30 appearances including six in one game against Trafford on the April Sunday that Halifax clinched promotion mathematically in front of the TV cameras.

The previous month had been memorable as well.

He had signed a new two year contract and seen wife and former model Karen present him with twins, Mitchell and Brittany and they moved to a new house in West Vale, not far from Austin's second home at Bradley Hall Golf Club!

The negotiations for that new deal were longdrawn out but happened almost unnoticed.

The board had bigger problems on their minds such as a threatened player's strike over bonuses before the challenge cup quarter final with St Helens.

Perhaps it's no surprise that the bloke was athletically gifted though.

Brother Tony was an accomplished rugby player and boxer and father Reg was still running for Australia in the 1992 World Veteran Games in Helsinki.

The faint suspicion that Austin wouldn't be able to hack it in the top flight though were soon dispelled.

Ironically enough his new coach after promotion was Roger Millward who had let him go from Hull KR but the try machine was soon back in action.

Rovers were dealt a harsh lesson as he scored five tries against them at Thrum Hall in September 1991 and he finished with 33 tries from as many games. There was no let up in 1992/93 either when the yield was 27 touchdowns from one fewer appearance.

Then came the controversial moment.

It was contract renewal time again.

And Austin rejected what Fax had to offer and opted instead to drop down a division and sign for Keighley. The inference was that the frugal living, teetotal Aussie had plumped just for the money.

He's in town again though to see Mitchell, now a footballer with Rotherham, and catch up with friends and hopes to take in a friendly at the Shay....