Bagman Phil may be left behind for the cup trip

It is uncertain at the moment as to whether Halifax bagman Phil Coventry will be allowed to board the team coach to Leigh for this weekend’s challenge cup tie.

That is because on the only occasion that the big feller has been to the Centurions new home – for the preseason friendly last January – Fax lost.

Before that their record had been three visits, three victories, all at times when he was absent for various reasons.

So the superstitious at the Shay (and there are plenty of those at every club) may see his presence as an omen.....

Few will forget last year’s epic televised league victory when Halifax romped into a 30 point halftime lead.

It was the start of a fine run which also included a win at Featherstone in the Northern Rail Cup semi-final which led to a match against Leigh at Blackpool, the last time that the two sides clashed in a cup match.

That was at the time that Brian Noble’s longer, more intense training sessions were perhaps beginning to bear fruit. It was “Nobby’s” first away match as football consultant at the club.

“Is everything OK?” we asked him anxiously as he cast an experienced eye around the dressing room after the team had gone out for their warm-up.

After a pause he replied, “can you bring some jelly beans next week? The lads need plenty of sweets to give them energy.”

That was duly done although they had to be hidden from certain members of the coaching staff before the players had had their fill.

Nowadays the players are given power drinks at halftime, a milkshake before they even leave the pitch at the end of the game and a table in the dressing room post match has such delicacies as jam slices, coconut macaroons, Chorley cake and flapjack as well as those sweets to replenish energy levels.

The first Halifax visit to the LSV was on August Bank Holiday Monday 2009 when a win was vital to halt an alarming slump.

Matt Calland decided to use a new motivational tool and borrowed a CD of one of those American Football films, one like “On Any Given Sunday” or “The Whole Nine Yards,” where the coach makes an emotional, passionate pre-match speech.

Really winds his team up.

Calland sat the lads down and made them listen to it before they went out for the game.

Halifax won and (superstition again) it had to be played before every match after that although most people knew it off by heart by the time that the Grand Final at Warrington came round.

In 2010 Fax won 46-40 and finished on top 36-16 last year.

So a low scoring affair is not in prospect this Sunday.

The first Challenge Cup clash between the two sides was actually the final of the 1920/21 competition. Leigh were the underdogs in this match at The Cliff in Salford (home of Broughton Rangers), but won 13-0.