Leeds double header made for memorable Bank Holiday

Easter could be a funny time in the rugby league programme.

A fixture glut, possibly caused by a backlog, could make it an extremely busy period as well.

In 1994 for example Halifax played a sequence of games reading Friday, Monday, Thursday and Sunday. There could be significant results as well.

Three years ago on Maundy Thursday Fax played Batley and scored 54 points in the second half. That was instrumental in seeing Bulldogs boss Gary Thornton get the sack and be replaced by Karl Harrison who had been out of the game for a couple of years.

Seventeen years ago a group of fans made a peaceful protest around the Thrum Hall pitch before an Easter Monday match versus Leeds against a rumoured merger proposal with Bradford. But how did they get that coffin into the ground?

This was the time of year associated with derby matches as well and 1991 threw up the prospect of home and away fixtures against Leeds.

Interestingly enough both games attracted attendances of over 9,000 and provided plenty of talking points.

The game at Leeds on Good Friday gave many Halifax fans their first glimpse of a bloke called John Bentley and it wasn’t the most auspicious of introductions.

“Bentos” perpetrated an awful howler in conjunction with former All Black fullback John Gallagher behind their own line, Fax’s David Cooper scored and they went on to win.

Cooper had been signed from Bradford earlier in the year for £15,000 in an effort to find a safe, consistent fullback. His audition had been the New Years Day match at Thrum Hall between Fax and Bradford when he had scored two late tries for Northern after coming on as substitute.

Once Bentley and Cooper had become Halifax team mates they began to share a car to training along with Graham Hallas. That was to lead to the hapless “Coops” becoming the butt of several practical jokes including the one where Bentley somehow gained access to his car whilst he was in the “Plummet Line” and moved it several streets out of the town centre.

Cooper presumed that it had been stolen and was ready to report it missing to the police before he was let in on the secret.

The return match between Fax and the Loiners on the Easter Monday was the occasion in which Halifax went 12-0 in front in as many minutes only to see both Gary Lord and Richard Milner sent off by referee Robin Whitfield.

This was surprising in itself as Whitfield, elder brother of course of former Halifax favourite Colin, was renowned for his leniency and habit of waving play on no matter what.

To be fair though both dismissals would probably result in massive bans nowadays.

But Bentley and Gary Divorty found themselves behind the sticks at the Scratchin’ Shed with the fans singing “What a waste of money”; by the time we had reached the start of the new season they were both Halifax players.