Colin Whitfield was a versatile bloke to have around, both on and off the pitch.
He played in every position from fullback to scrumhalf in a playing career that took in Salford, Wigan, Halifax, Canterbury Bankstown and Rochdale. It’s the latter club who are at the Shay on Sunday.
Whitfield was a qualified motor mechanic (a story used to circulate about how he had fixed the Wigan team coach when it broke down on the way back from a game), a postman and also had a spell as coach at hometown club Widnes.
He was also notoriously superstitious about being the last man to take the field.
An effective kicker famously sinbinned on one occasion for taking too long over an attempt at goal and who held the club’s points in a season record with 298 in the 1986/87 Wembley campaign until John Schuster came along to surpass it Whitfield was also one of those players who Halifax have sold in the past to pay the bills.
In his case it was to Rochdale in April 1990 but others include Tony Anderson (to Oldham around the same time), Colin Dixon to Salford for a then world record transfer fee of £14000 in December 1998 and Paul “Baloo” Anderson who was sold to Bradford in May 1997, virtually 20 years ago this week.
Whitfield’s move to Spotland was controversial. Halifax fans were still hoping that, despite money problems at the club, they would be promoted straight back into the old first division and here was Whitfield being flogged off to one of their nearest rivals.
But it happened after 134 games which yielded 48 tries, 303 goals and seven drop goals for a total of 805 points.
Whitfield may have cost Halifax £25000 in January 1986 but it was certainly value for money. And they got their money back from Hornets with interest!