The Self-Isolation Chronicles: Whitehaven

1. Head coach Gary Charlton once received a life-ban from Rugby League.

During a first spell at Whitehaven in 1989, in his playing career, Charlton received the maximum possible ban from the sport after a tackle on Castleford’s Graeme Steadman. The former Gold Coast teammates collided after Charlton put on a high tackle that broke his nose. Steadman, a Great Britain stand-off also suffered from a depressed cheekbone, with Charlton receiving a life-ban for the tackle. This followed a number of incidents, that year, as the former Hull KR forward had to get his own legal counsel to appeal the charge. Eight months later, he would join Cameron Bell’s Carlisle but this wouldn’t be the last heavy suspension he received in his career. In 2000, while playing for Barrow, Charlton received a three-month suspension for pushing referee Nick Oddy in a 36-10 defeat to Dewsbury Rams. This was the third heavy ban on the notorious Rugby League hard man’s career, after having an eight-month ban imposed in Australia after breaking an opponent’s jaw.

2. Brett Seymour was temporary head coach for 16 days.

Seymour arrived at Whitehaven in 2014 with a chequered history. A drink-driving charge in 2011 marked the end of his NRL career at New Zealand Warriors, after being saved by his previous club Cronulla Sharks for alcohol-related issues, prompting a move to Hull FC. It was at Hull where the man who broke onto the scene with Brisbane Broncos took headlines again for the wrong reasons. Just a year into his stint at the Black and Whites, he was in hospital after suffering from a car crash and later checking into a clinic with depression. A move to Castleford saw him never feature for the club, as Whitehaven offered him a chance to rebuild his career. So much was the faith of Whitehaven that, after the departure of Steve Deakin, Seymour and James Coyle were placed in temporary charge. After 16 days, Haven would name Coyle as the permanent head coach, with Seymour resuming playing duties. Coyle would be named on the shortlist for 2015 Championship and League 1 Coach of the Year, while the Australian half-back would depart for Dewsbury Rams at the end of that year. Seymour would have publically defend himself once again, last year, following domestic assault allegations from his wife Roseanne.

3. A club legend had to quash his own death rumours.

Dick Huddart was a well-respected figure at Whitehaven and St Helens in the 1950s and 1960s, while also enjoying a successful spell down under with St George. In 2017, the former England and Great Britain international would have to call his own daughter Nicki to confirm he was alive after rumours surfaced on social media he had passed away. Huddart, then aged 80, was living in Australia and had to confirm he was still alive as his family had contacted the Australian police force. Huddart, who is still alive, actually found the incident quite funny but was worried for his family. Huddart’s son and former England international Milton, passed away in 2015 after suffering from a cardiac arrest. Dick, however, is very much still alive.

4. They sacked their head coach after promotion.

In August 2012, Whitehaven smashed Gateshead 60-12 at home to secure promotion to the Championship. They joined Cumbrian rivals Barrow and Workington in gaining a place in the second tier, with Doncaster occupying the top spot and fourth promotion berth. Celebrations were quickly halted, however, when head coach Don Gailer was relieved of his duties. The move was due to a rift with the players and a lack of agreeance over terms and conditions of his contract with the board of directors. That came after a public tirade from the former Norths Devils coach, following a 41-26 defeat at London Skolars. The would appoint Dave Woods later that year, who had earned promotion to Super League while at Castleford in 2005 and had also won promotion from the Championship One with Gateshead and York City Knights.

5. One of their ex-players lived with the scars of racial allegation.

Former Whitehaven player Leigh Smith revealed, in 2010, how he had battle through the mental and physical scars of being accused of racial abuse by Hull KR player Alex Godfrey. The two clashed during a match-up between Haven and Rovers in 2002, with a post-match altercation seeing Smith knocked out and Godfrey bring arrested on suspicion of assault. Nothing ever eventuated from the allegations or the incident after the game. Two years later, Godfrey was banned for two years while playing for York, after becoming the first player in the British game to be identified as testing positive for cocaine. Smith, who played for Cumbria against Australia, still resides in the county and breeds sheep.