Maurice Bamford: Coach who transformed Fax’s fortunes

Maurice Bamford
Maurice Bamford

Legendary former Halifax RLFC coach Maurice Bamford has died aged 83.

Bamford, who was born in Leeds, was a modest player with Hull and Dewsbury but really came into his own as a coach.

He had spells in charge of Leeds, Dewsbury, Bramley, Wigan, Bradford Northern, Workington Town, York, Keighley, Prescot Panthers and Lancashire Lynx as well as at Thrum Hall with Halifax.

Bamford, who had been assistant to Peter Fox at Northern, came to Halifax in March 1978 at the time when the club were bottom of the league and hadn’t won a game all season.

Bamford’s extensive recruitment meant that the club didn’t look back. Fax just missed out on promotion in 1978/79 and reached the semi-finals of the Yorkshire Cup, beating Castleford on the way.

Bamford’s second season saw promotion to the first division, a trip to the Yorkshire Cup final and an appearance in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup where they lost to Hull KR at Headingley.

He wwent on to be coach of Wigan between May 1981 and May 1982 before being sacked. Between November 1983 and February 1985, he was coach of Leeds.

He was Great Britain coach between 1984 and 1987 and coached the test side against Australia, New Zealand and France.

His term as coach of the national side also included the formation of the Great Britain under-21 team. He was succeeded as Great Britain coach by Mal Reilly, who also had a spell as coach of Halifax.

In 1985, Bamford was the first ever appointed full-time Development Officer for rugby league in the UK when he served for the Leeds City Council Leisure Services for two and a half years.

Between December 1986 and April 1988, he was coach of Leeds. He also coached numerous amateur clubs during his career, including Greetland All-Rounders.

After retiring from coaching Bamford began a new career as an author and rugby league match reporter.

His daughter Jane confirmed he died in hospital on Wednesday night. He had been ill for some time.