Siddal success in Fee final

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Siddal’s dominance of the Calderdale amateur rugby league scene was illustrated yesterday when a Chevinedge team hastily assembled at the start of the winter campaign lifted the Joseph Fee Memorial Challenge Cup at Old Brodleians RUFC.

Daz Phillips’ mixture of grand veterans, up and coming youngsters and perhaps one star performer in Chris Brooke proved too much for gallant Boothtown Terriers, who were beaten 23-10.

Terriers, who lifted the trophy 12 months ago but have had traumatic times since, had their hopes of a repeat lifted by an early try from Brad Brocklehurst.

However, scores from Jake Turner and Matthew Prest gave Siddal a 10-4 lead that they never looked likely to relinquish playing down the Woodhead slope in the second half.

On a cold but dry day, kick-off was preceded by a minute’s applause in memory of former Halifax ARL president Clifford Fee, who has sponsored the competition for 40 years. Officials are hoping the Fee family will continue to support the event.

Boothtown set out with purpose and a kick to the flank gave winger Brocklehurst the straightforward task of catching the ball and dropping over the line. Ben Walsh’s conversion attempt was blown across the face of the posts.

Siddal were conceding penalties and they might have fallen further behind but for sound defence near their line, Joseph Tuck being shunted into touch.

A Matthew Turner run, backed by a chip from half-back Brooke, forced Boothtown to drop out from under their posts but Siddal almost came unstuck when a Brooke pass was picked off by Ben Walsh, who made 60 metres before being collared by Max Dow and Prest.

Siddal hit the front on 15 minutes when centre Dominic Booth raced through the middle and Turner supported well for a try wide on the left converted by Brooke.

The Chevinedge side were starting to turn the screw with Luke Garnett and Conner MacCallum making an impact off the bench.

They pressed the Boothtown line twice without success but eventually Prest went over in the corner for an unconverted try on 34 minutes.

Prop Liam Green’s try at the side of the posts on 49 minutes was converted by Brooke, who then collected his own chip through to score and added the goal on the hour to make it for 22-4.

Boothtown were not ready to throw in the towel and prop Mark Sutcliffe reached out to the try line, Jordan O’Halloran converting

Brooke, who has plenty of top-flight Conference experience, completed the scoring with a well-struck drop goal on 69 minutes.

Retiring hooker Simon ‘Tiger’ Longbottom collected the trophy and young full back Finley Hickey was man of the match.

Phillips, who has won two National Conference Grand Finals with Siddal, described the success as “special” given the competition’s long history and his Siddal side’s short existence.

These Siddal players may be well down the Chevinedge pecking order but they have also tasted Pennine Division Four title success as well as reaching the last four of the Yorkshire Cup this season.

Phillips said: “The old boys get a massive buzz from playing alongside the young kids.”

Boothtown counterpart Ben Mallas said retirements and player burn-out had left Terriers only able to contest the 11-a-side league this winter.

Things were now looking up with the bold cup showing and entry into the 13-a-side Yorkshire summer league.

“I am proud of everyone. We were underdogs today but all the players stood up to be counted,” he said.