The Self-Isolation Chronicles: Halifax

1. Frank Watene post-rugby career has involved paintballing and St John’s Ambulance.

Former Halifax cult hero Watene still resides in the town, after retiring in 2011 following a four-year spell at the club. He featured for Wakefield, Dewsbury (twice) and Castleford during a 12-year stint in the UK, and has clearly endeared to life in Yorkshire. The former New Zealand Maori international’s post-playing career has been far more diverse, however. Having previously worked in an ice cream factory, as a support worker and as a Community Development Officer, he joined Delta Force Paintball as regional manager in 2014. He stayed there until 2018, in various job roles, becoming a Training Team Manager at St John’s Ambulance. For all his efforts in training staff for the frontlines, we salute you Frank.

2. Jack Clowes was banned from a Lions Tour for having a clothing allowance.

During the first Great Britain Lions Tour in 1888, Halifax’s Jack Clowes was outed as a professional by the RFU as he had received a £15 clothing allowance. He was subsequently banned from playing in any of the games on the Tour, despite the fact all of the players in the squad received the same payment apart from Andrew Stoddart, who would later form the Barbarians Rugby Union representative team. The RFU were trying desperately to avoid professionalising the sport and made very clear of their expectations that players received nothing beyond hotel and travel expenses. In a bizarre move, Clowes was still allowed to be part of the travelling party. Such events were pivotal in catalysing the breakaway of the Northern Union in 1895.

3. They were almost bankrupt by a pop and blues concert involving Fleetwood Mac.

Halifax were feeling the blues when their financial situation was about to go pop in the 1960s. The solution? Obviously a pop and blues concert. After the mass selling of their star players at the back end of the 1960s, following a shortfall in funds and performance on the pitch, Thrum Hall played home to Halifax Pop and Blues Concert in 1970 (featuring Fleetwood Mac, no less). This was an attempt to drum up funds and rally around for the club, as 3,000 people turned up to watch a night of music. An audience of 35,000 was expected, however, as horrific weather conditions led to people not turning up. The night lost £6,000 for the club, in total, and added to a severe financial hangover. Despite their success in the inaugural John Player Trophy in 1972, the club were only alleviated from their problems when local businessman David Brook lifted their debts.

4. Adam Fogerty was the first man to defeat Tyson Fury’s dad in professional boxing.

Fogerty’s career has been a real autobiography in the making, ranging from professional Rugby League, boxing, acting in Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Snatch (alongside Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham), Shakespeare plays and a Direct Line advert. In 1987, as an eighteen-year-old, Fogerty defeated Tyson Fury’s dad John, in what was Fury’s professional boxing debut, in Halifax. Four years later, he featured for Halifax RLFC and would later turn out for St Helens and Warrington. He later served as assistant coach of Toronto Wolfpack, in between his acting career, and in November last year became a shareholder of Bradford Bulls.

5. A fan once changed his name to “Mr Halifax Blue Sox.”

Comedian Joe Lycett has recently rocked the news for changing his name to “Hugo Boss” as a protest to the fashion company but, long before that, Halifax fan Damian Andrews made the headlines for an outrageous deed poll. In 2002, Andrews changed his name to “Mr Halifax Blue Sox” after supporting the club since 1987. He worked as a steward at The Shay, and was aged 29 at the time. A BBC news report even went to the lengths of stating the Andrews “not surprising, is single.” Halifax’s marketing manager, Richard Hizzard, comically added: “The good thing is we have a range of clothing available that bears his name.” Cue the Lycett comparisons. A year later, Halifax dropped their “Blue Sox” moniker and Andrews did too. In 2005, a news story emerged of Andrews dressed as Humpty Dumpty and tried to break the world record for crouching on a wall, in memory of his father. No, we’re not joking, his father Barry wanted to break the record of 11 hours and five minutes before he passed away. Andrews would last an hour and fifteen minutes in his attempt.