Kicking should not be a worry

You can presume that one problem that Karl Harrison will not envisage having in 2012 will be the shortage of a reliable goalkicker.

Not with marksmen like Mick Nanyn, Lee Paterson, Paul Handforth and Steve Tyrer all settling into off season training this week and queuing up for the role.

All of those are used to being first choice kicker.

James Haley has been known to kick as well while Joe Chandler slotted one over the other week in Haley’s testimonial game.

Paterson’s consistency over three seasons has tended to mask the fact that other accomplished kickers were also in the Fax ranks at the time, players like Graham Holroyd, Danny Jones, Luke Branighan and Stephen Bannister, who was kicking goals for Avignon the other weekend.

In fact kicking hasn’t really been a problem for a long time.

John Schuster was awesome in that respect and since then Fax have employed kickers like Martin Pearson, Holroyd in 1999, Dean Lawford and Jamie Bloem. They weren’t all infallible though, all missing relatively easy shots on occasions.

All this was brought to mind because it is 40 years ago this month since the daddy of them all, statistically speaking, retired from playing at Thrum Hall.

He was Ronnie James, the only player to kick over 1,000 goals in a Halifax career. He is also the only player to land 100 goals a season on four occasions but the last time that he pulled on a Fax jersey was in November 1971 at Warrington after 372 games in ten years, a record of real consistency.

His one and only substitute appearance in that figure was his last game although whether or not that fact was significant in his calling it a day is something that I’m not sure about. He is rightly a member of the club’s Hall of Fame.

But James was more than just a goalkicker, he was the first real “modern” Halifax fullback.

Fans of the last 30 years or so are accustomed, thanks to the likes of Shad Royston, Miles Greenwood, Mike Umaga, Joe Kilroy, Graham Eadie and Jimmy Birts, to the sight of a fullback bursting into the line and making the extra man if not scoring himself.

But before James a fullback was very much a defender first and foremost, a bloke who was safe under a high ball, could tackle competently, could kick adequately from his hands and seldom ventured out of his own half! At least one pre-war star had the reputation of coming off the pitch with his hair as immaculately groomed as when he took the field for the game!

James broke the mould though after signing from Maesteg RUFC in 1959 even though it took him a couple of years to break through into the first team. That’s understandable when you remember that Garfield Owen, fellow Welshman and Hall of Famer, was blocking his way into the first team number one shirt.