There will no doubt be a fair few down at the Shay this weekend for the benefit game for the family of Danny Jones.
Many of those will have Ovenden connections and there have been plenty of links between Fax and the Four Fields club over the years.
One of those was Mark Perrett and 24 years ago this week, on Sunday October 6th 1991, he was a surprise inclusion in Roger Millward’s team to face St Helens at Thrum Hall.
Surprise in the sense that “Pez” was an 18 year old rookie who had only signed for the club a matter of weeks previously and also because Halifax had just spent over £100,000 in recruiting three back row forwards in the shape of Gary Lord, John Fieldhouse and Greg Pearce.
Lord had cost £35k from Leeds, Fieldhouse £28k from Oldham where he had been in dispute and Pearce’s fee of £40k had been sent by an RFL tribunal after his move from London. The latter had been signed in a desperate effort to find a kicker; Pearce had been on loan at Leeds but Allan Agar had tracked him down to a hotel on Cardigan Road in Headingley and persuaded him to come to Halifax.
Leeds also featured in the quest for Perrett who was an outstanding junior prospect and who had been training at Headingley.
He had played in the first Alliance game of the season at Featherstone and scored a fine try from halfway which more or less forced the Fax board’s hand. Also in that team (as a trialist) was a young man called Darren Fleary who wasn’t signed.
Halifax had been concentrating on bolstering the senior squad but had also appointed a new chief scout in Keith Reeves and in addition to Perrett lads like Johnny Lawless, Richard Smith and Richard Pearson were on the radar.
Perrett signed in the boardroom one Tuesday afternoon before training and was given one piece of classic advice from his new coach. “Always be nice to people on the way up in this game,” said Millward, “because you’ll probably meet the same people on the way back down.”
This particular game against Saints was a crucial litmus test for Millward’s newlook side.
Halifax had started the season with three successive defeats, two of them at home to Featherstone and Wakefield, and although they had stopped the rot with a win over Trinity this was their first game against traditionally class opposition. There was also the small matter of revenge after an Alan Hunte inspired Saints had won at Thrum Hall in the challenge cup quarter final the previous March.
And win they did, 26-6, thanks to tries from Greg Austin (2), Warren Wilson and Dave Watson and five goals from Pearce.
The team that day as per Andrew Hardcastle’s records was Wilson, Wilf George, Rob Hutchinson, Austin, Mark Preston, Watson, Paul Harkin, Karl Harrison, Roy Southernwood, Peter Bell, Richard Milner, Fieldhouse and Pearce. The substitutes were Jimmy Irvine and Perrett.
The attendance was a healthy 7893 and the referee was John Holdsworth. He is still around of course and was match commissioner at Odsal the other Saturday.
Holdsworth had of course refereed more famous games between these two sides in the recent past….