Rating each club’s Super League experience: Halifax

Halifax were a solid Super League side, until they ran into difficulties in the early 2000s.

They made the cut for the original Super League, after finishing an impressive fifth in the Championship.

Steady Start

Fax’s first season in the Super League started out as a bit of a struggle, they failed to win their first seven matches.

However, they got off the mark with an impressive 32-18 win against Leeds at Headingley. Two tries from Craig Dean, and other efforts from John Bentley, Paul Rowley and Mike Umaga earned the win.

They only went on to lose a further four matches to finish in a respectable sixth place.

Halifax made a coaching change ahead of the 1997 season, as John Pendlebury replaced Steve Simms.

In contrast, they started the season well. A 49-24 win at Sheffield Eagles gave them a seventh win in their first 12 matches.

They then only went on to win one of their last 12 matches to finish seventh. That was a 40-12 win over relegated Oldham at Thrum Hall.

Two tries from Damian Munro, and others from Chris Chester, Craig Dean, Michael Jackson and Martin Moana sealed the win for Fax that day.

Fax finished seventh at the end of the season.

Move to The Shay and Playoffs

Once the season was over, they entered the Premiership Trophy, but were beaten in the Preliminary Round against Castleford Tigers.

In 1998, Halifax sold Thrum Hall to ASDA to allow them to develop a supermarket on that site. Fax then moved to The Shay, with Halifax Town FC. The money from the sale was supposed to go towards developing The Shay, but subsequent debts swallowed it up.

Halifax then had their most memorable season to date, after finishing third. They were just two points behind Leeds in second, and six behind Wigan at the top.

A fantastic first season at The Shay was ended with a 42-0 win over Leeds. A hat-trick from Gavin Clinch, two tries from Gary Mercer, and other efforts from David Bouveng and Martin Moana sealed the win.

However, they couldn’t make their mark on the playoffs, as they lost both matches against a much-changed Leeds side, and St Helens.

Gary Mercer then took over as Player/Head Coach ahead of the 1999 season from John Pendlebury.

Inconsistencies

They struggled for consistency in the new season, they didn’t achieve back-to-back wins until August. They beat Leeds 21-20 and then Warrington 23-22. Paul Rowley and Graham Holroyd were the game winners respectively.

Fax ended the season with a 32-20 win over Salford at The Shay. Two tries from Daryll Cardiss, and others from Andy Hobson, David Hodgson, Gary Mercer and Craig Randall sealed the win. They finished ninth in the Super League table.

Halifax started the 2000 season well. A 36-10 win over Wakefield Trinity was their fourth win in six, and saw them lie in fifth place. Two tries from Marvin Golden, and other efforts from Greg Florimo, Gary Mercer, Martin Moana, Paul Rowley and Gael Tallec sealed the win.

They then lost 11 of their last 16 matches, to end the season in eighth. The season finished on a high note though, after a 54-18 win over Huddersfield-Sheffield. Moana grabbed a hat-trick, Lee Greenwood scored two, and other efforts from Florimo, Jim Gannon, Damian Gibson and Mercer sealed the win.

In 2001, Steve Linnane took over from Mercer as Head Coach, but the season that followed was a struggle for Halifax.

They finished ninth again, just five points above Huddersfield, who were relegated.

2002 saw another change at the top, as Tony Anderson took over. Unfortunately, there was no change, as Halifax finished ninth again, five points above Salford at the bottom.

Relegation

Then in 2003, Fax went down after setting an unwanted record.

The season started well, after a 26-22 win at London Broncos. Tries from Chris Birchall, Andrew Brocklehurst, Dane Dorahy and Lee Finnerty sealed that win.

However, they then lost every game after that. To make matters worse, they were deducted points for a salary cap breach, meaning they became the only side to be relegated without registering a point.

Since then, they have made the playoffs on 10 occasions, but haven’t quite made it back to the Super League.

The future

Halifax will be hoping to look forwards after a disappointing ending to the 2019 season. Simon Grix now leads them forward.

Given time, he could well get Halifax back up and challenging for a place in the Super League again.

They have a mix of youth and experience in the squad, and if they can gel together, then it could be interesting times for them.

Rating

5/10- Great on their day, but struggled for consistency a little too often. They often had seasons of two halves, and it was difficult to predict often where they would end up.

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