Rugby League: Halifax farewell to Thrum Hall

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The Independent Online
By Dave Hadfield

ANOTHER famous old ground passes into the mists - and, in this case, snows, hails and gales - of history tomorrow when Thrum Hall stages its last game.

The home of Halifax since 1886, the notoriously bleak stadium reached by the ominous route up Gibbet Street, gets the chop after a celebratory match against Leeds. The proceeds will go straight into the kitty that will enable Halifax to buy into The Shay, the home of their football neighbours Halifax Town, which is currently being redeveloped.

Few will shed tears for the antiquated facilities at Thrum Hall, but, with its slope and stands crowded tight to the touchline, it has always been a dramatic place to watch a game.

"A lot of people in the area, plus supporters of other clubs, will have many cherished memories of what remains one of the most atmospheric of rugby league grounds," said John Burnett, the captain of Halifax during one of their most successful eras and now the chairman of the appeal committee that has the task of raising pounds 140,000 towards the cost of the first stage of The Shay redevelopment.

So far, they have managed around pounds 50,000, so the hope is that Thrum Hall will be full to its present, restricted capacity of 7,500. The match is all-ticket, but they will be on sale on the day of the match.

Apart from a parade of some of Halifax's greatest players of the past, the current team will be close to full strength. The half-backs Chris Chester and Gavin Clinch have both been passed fit after taking blows to the head in the controversial Challenge Cup defeat at the London Broncos and only Kelvin Skerrett is regarded as a doubt.

Leeds, knocked out of the Cup five weeks ago, will be grateful for something approximating to a serious match to help them prepare for the start of Super League in two weeks. Their side, also virtually at full strength, includes their new signing from Australia, Brad Godden, who will make his debut in the centres.

Elsewhere, the First Division table is starting to take shape, with Hull KR and Wakefield Trinity defending the only 100 per cent records tomorrow before facing each other next weekend.

Rovers are at home to struggling Rochdale Hornets, who gave their coach, Shane Tupaea, the dreaded vote of confidence this week, while Trinity host inconsistent Swinton.

The Sheffield Eagles' centre, Keith Senior, has failed in his appeal against a four-match ban for punching Castleford's Barrie-Jon Mather in their Cup-tie last Saturday. His suspension was left unchanged at a second hearing yesterday, which means that he will miss his side's semi-final against Salford and the first three Super League matches.

Nigel Wright, Wigan's injury-plagued stand-off, is to have another operation on his ankle next week.

Malcolm Reilly, the former Great Britain coach who last year with the Newcastle Knights became the first foreigner to win an Australian Grand final, has returned to this country following the death of his father.

Rugby league will plant another foothold in Scotland with the formation of Glasgow North. They join Whitecraigs, based in the south of the city.