Cawoods loss remains a timely lesson for the pros

Oh dear.

I suppose that it was almost inevitable that the name Cawoods should have been whispered this week as Halifax prepare to play another amateur team from Hull in a cuptie.

Apologies to the players listed below if they wince once more at the memory.

For those of you who aren’t aware of the fact, Halifax played Cawoods in the autumn of 1977 at Thrum Hall in the Players No 6 Trophy and lost 9-8 in a massive cup shock.

Cawoods have now metamorphosed into West Hull so they still have a reputation in the amateur game and they won this with a late penalty in front of 1,168 spectators according to historian Andrew Hardcastle.

It was an expensive afternoon for current bagman Phil Coventry who ripped his season ticket up in disgust before chairman Eric Lingard and had to pay in for the rest of the season.

In the strange, cyclical history of Fax it had only been six seasons since they had been the inaugural winners of the same competition and by the end of the decade they had reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup under Maurice Bamford.

But the side was struggling in 1977/78 and so was the club.

Peter Jarvis was recounting the other Sunday about one of his early experiences of Halifax. He signed 12 months later as Bamford began to pull the team round.

But when he turned up for one of his first appearances he had to wait to get changed as there was only one set of kit and it was still drying on radiators around the place after being used by the second team the previous afternoon.

The coach at the time was Jim Crellin, a dour Cumbrian who had the reputation for being able to work with a tight budget. In this case he had no budget at all.

The team that Sunday afternoon was Shires, Downey, Davies, Greenwood, Pitchforth, Snee, Brook, Briggs, Astbury, Weavill, Callon, Martin and Scott with the substitutes being Simkins and Grayshon. Simkins came on but not the latter.

The strange thing is that it wasn’t really that bad a side on paper when you consider the personnel.

Two of the back three of the pack are in the club’s Hall of Fame!

And “Razza” Astbury returned in the 1990s as chief scout under his good friend Roger Millward.

It was byebye to Crellin and his assistant Peter Birchall the following day with masseur Harry Fox taking over the coaching reins until the end of the season.

Simkins was on trial from Rochdale but made his name off the pitch when he was awarded an MBE for services to education the other year.

In the eight years since relegation from Super League Halifax have enjoyed easy cup victories over the likes of Oulton, Lock Lane (twice), Eccles, Loughborough University and Ovenden with the only relatively difficult game being against Kells under Anthony Farrell in 2006.

But that was a freezing, wet Wednesday night at Whitehaven so perhaps we can make allowances.