Supporters' Association

News - 2012

History of Fartown.

The earliest record of a football match being played in the Huddersfield area is in 1848, when a team of men from Hepworth took on a team of men from Holmfirth near Whinney Bank in Holmfirth. Hepworth won a ...

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Club Honours

The club's first cup victory was in the 1889-90 season when the Yorkshire Cup was won for the first time.

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Membership

See how to become a member of the Supporters Association...

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RFL Benevolent Fund

Support the RFL Benevolent Fund by following this link.

For all news about the Giants please visit www.giantsrl.com

Click below for Report Click below for Photos
AGM & Danny Brough Photos
Cheque Presentation Photos
Danny Brough & AGM Photos
Derek Wroe Photos
Heritage Evening Photos
Jeff Wittenberg Photos
Junior Disco Photos
Laura Crane Trust Photos
Luke Robinson & Greg Eden Photos
Nathan Brown Photos
Paul Kilbride Photos
Paul Reilly Photos
Reindeer Race Night Photos
Robbie Hunter-Paul Photos
Stuart Cummings Photos

November

6th - Stuart Cummings - RFL Controller Of Referees

Stuart

Stuart is a Cumrian lad, born & bred in Whitehaven. As a yooungster he was always interested in sport.

After leaving school in the early 80s, he went to Padgate Teacher Training College in Warrington.

After becoming a qualified, he taught PE at a school at Upholland in Lancashire.Unfortunately for Stuart, the head of PE was a Union man and it was this other code which was the school's preference. However, after 5 years his boss moved on and Stuart put Rugby League firmly in the school's curriculum.

During this time he minor counties cricket for Cheshire.

Stuart's uncle was a RL touch judge. After one particular game, Stuart commented to his uncle that the referee hadn't been particularly good. In response his uncle said "Well, why don't you do it?".

Eventually Stuart took his refereeing exam and was approved the week after Fred Lindop was put in charge of referees. Within 3 years he achieved Grade 1 status.

Scarborough v Huddersfield was his first top level match. Stuart remembers it well - Alex Murphy was our coach at the time.

Over the years Stuart has refereed 3 John Player finals, 3 Premiershp finals, 2 Super League Grand finals,and 2 World Cup finals. Each and every one being a tremendous honour.

In 2002, after 20 years teaching, he was faced with a decision: either teach for another 20 years or take up the offer of being the RFL's Controller of Referees. It was a no-brainer!

At that time there were nofull time referees so it was difficult to arrange a time to discuss with them that weekend's matches. So, in 2006 Stuart managed to convince the RFL that this was the way forward.

The usual question & answer session followed before Stuart was presented with his Honorary Member's Certificate and thanked by Mick.

October

2nd - AGM featuring Danny Brough

Danny being presented with his Wagstaff Trophy

The Supporters Association of the Huddersfield Giants held their Annual General Meeting in the convivial surroundings of Turnbridge WMC on Tuesday 2nd October.

After Dave Calverley, the outgoing Chairman, had welcomed the evening's guest Danny Brough, he gave his report on the past 12 months.

There had been many positives in that time including the outstanding speakers. Membership is now approaching the magic 100. Read the full report here. Unfortunately the experiment of having a second meeting night on a Wednesday did not live up to expectations and had been, for the time being, abandoned.

After thanking the committee for their enthusiasm and commitment, Dave moved on to the first presentation of the evening. This was the Association's 'Harold Wagstaffe Trophy', awarded to the player whom the members considered to be the club's most valued player, the player they would least like to see leave the Giants.

As last year it was a 2 horse race with Danny Brough just pipping Eorl Crabtree for the presitigious top spot.

In closing, Dave reminded the assembled throng about Tony Johnson's appearance at November's meeting, the trip to Ossett Brewery, also in November, and the Christmas Party incorporating a Reindeer Race Night.

September

4th - Speakers - Luke Robinson & Greg Eden

Luke Robinson & Greg Eden

Luke hails from Siddall. His first sport was soccer but, when nobody passed to him because he was too small, he tried his hand at rugby.

At 11, his parents received a phone call asking if they would like Luke to play for Wigan. He did!

He signed along with Gareth Hock and trained with the likes of Sean Edwards and Sean O'Loughlin.

After he had finished his GCSEs, Wigan wanted him to move over there. At the same time Brian Noble was keen for him to sign for Bradford.

He continued his allegiance with Wigan and moved in with a family which can best be described as "living with Jack & Vera Duckworth"! Unfortunately for Luke, neither of them could cook and it was a diet of fish and chips every night – "I was fat" exclaimed Luke.

When Dennis Betts became Wigan's coach he decided that Luke did not figure in his long term plans, so he allowed Luke to move to Salford to play under Karl Harrison. Now there was someone you did not argue with!

He learned and enjoyed himself so much there that he felt guilty when he agreed to Jon Sharp's request to join the Giants. "This club is on the verge of being huge, why should I want to leave – especially to someone who didn't want me in the first place" replied Luke to a questioner who asked him if he was going to Widnes [Dennis Betts is currently the coach at the Vikings].

During a keen question and answer session, Luke was adamant that, whilst everyone knew there was a problem at the club, no-one could put their finger on it. "It's got to be in our heads" said Luke. "We're a happy bunch off the field, but are extremely disappointed and frustrated by what we're doing on it."

Mick Beevers thanked Luke and Greg and the pair were presented with their Honorary Membership certificates.

August

7th - Speaker - Jeff Wittenberg

Jeff Wittenberg

Jeff was an extremely popular player for us back in the late 90s and early 00s.

He comes from a very good RL pedigree. His father played for St George and Australia until a broken cheek bone forced him to retire around the age of 25.

Brisbane was the next port of call where Jeff started playing rugby at the age of 15 with the Wynnum Manly Seagulls. At 18 he gained a scholarship with the Brisbane Broncos. A year later, in 1993, St George Dragons offered him a contract.

St George had won the Grnad Final 4 days prior to Jeff's arrival. Approaching his lodgings, he saw a couple of cars on their roofs and then that the house had no doors on! Wild celebrations!

He shared the house with 3 other players, including one Nathan Brown, with whom he had many 'experiences'! One being a journey in Nathan's new, sponsored car. Travelling a little over the speed limit they were stopped by the police, and Jeff was duly fined. A little further on they were stopped again. This time the officer recognised Jeff and Nathan. The traffic cop introduced himslef by saying "Hey guys, some good news - and some bad. I'm a great RL fan, but my team is the Parramatta Eels. Here's your ticket!"

As the Super League war hotted up, Jeff went to the newly formed South Queensland Crushers. However, this club was besetted by money problems, and eventually the players were allowed to seek other clubs.

At this point, Jeff moved to Bradford after being approached by Matthew Elliottan, his ex-coach [along with Brian Smith] at the Dragons.

Talk about a culture shock! He arrived for 'Summer Rugby' in March. Not exactly the warmest time of the year!

In his first game he suffered a dead-leg after 5 minutes, forcing him to come off the pitch. He then had a knee operation and spent the next 4 weeks in recuperation. Nevertheless, he became a regularin the 1997 team which was crowned League champions.

For the next season Bradford signed Tevita Vaikona which meant that the last-in overseas player had to leave. Jeff moved to Huddersfield for the first time.

Another culture shock!

Throughout Jeff's rugby careere, he had been used to professional set-ups behind the scenes. The Giants' behind-the-scenes man was Gary Schofield. Instead of Monday mornings going over the weekend's match, it was spent in a local hostellery! And so it went on.

At the end of the season, Les Coulter was prepared to give Jeff a 2 year contract. Unfortunately for Jeff, Mal Reilly was appointed head coach and had no planes for Jeff.

Being too late to sign for another club, Jeff had another knee operation and took a year off.

He played for Sheffield the following season before rejoining the Giants as they were revived under coach Tony Smith. Jeff played in that 2002 Northern Ford record breaking season when they were undefeated in the league, amassing 1,156 points to equal the record for points in a league season.

Since retiring, Jeff runs a very successful sandwich shop in Paddock and [due to an English wife, 2 yorkshire girls, a disastrous Assie Olympic debacle, and a successful team GB] currently classes himself as British!

After a question and answer session, Mick thanked Jeff for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Dave then presented himwith his Honary Membership of HGSA - but when Jeff learned that he couldn't vote, he paid his fiver and became a full member! Cheers Jeff.

July

3rd - Speaker - Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown

Nathan chose to have a question and answer session, here are some of them.

“When you return to Australia, will your children want a pen pal?”
I’m sure they will. Are you volunteering?

“How did you start playing rugby?”
At about 4½ years old, back in my home town of Yamba, New South Wales, we used to throw a ball about non-stop. As I grew older, it used to be surf and fish before school then rugby after school. At 17 I joined St George. Then when I was 27, in 2001, I had my neck injury which forced me to retire, so I took up coaching, still at St George. In 2009 I came to the Giants and the rest is history.
After Saint Helens, who knows? We might go to France.

“But we thought you were going back to Australia?”
We were. But Saint Helens came along. Any other club and I wouldn’t have entertained them. But with the Saints I left it up to the wife. She said OK, so that was the end of it!
As much as we like Holmfirth, the daily travelling along the M62 will probably mean that we shall move nearer to Saint Helens.

“What was the situation with Lunt and Moore?”
Lunty wanted more game time, which was understandable. We said that he could go on loan if another club came for him. We were desperately looking around for a replacement when Scotty left Widnes. We snapped him up.

“What are you doing about the problems on the right hand side of the defence?”
We’re working on it.

“Who was the biggest influence on your rugby career?”
My Dad. He was a very good player.
As far as coaching goes, probably Brian Smith, my first ever coach.

“Is the gap between NRL and SL players narrowing or getting wider?”
You’ve got to remember that over in Australia there is far more sunshine and warmer weather. This means that kids start playing out at a younger age and for longer. Their parents feel better inclined to take them to training and matches when the weather’s good rather than finding excuses to not go because it’s raining and snowing over here in the UK!
There’s also more money, especially from TV, over in Australia which attracts players instead of wanting to be soccer stars.

“What’s your philosophy in coaching?”
To be honest and fair. You’ve got to treat people as adults. Encourage players to improve on what they’re good at, not tell them off for their bad points.

“Have you seen many kangaroos?”
Yeah, lots.

“What’s your opinion on the salary cap?”
It’s great for the game.

“Do you think it’s fair that some clubs appear to flaunt it?”
No comment!
Success in soccer is bought. This isn’t the case in Rugby – there isn’t enough money for that. Instead success comes through having an excellent set of youngsters coming through. Just see how constantly successful the Giants will be in 4 or 5 years time. There’s an outstanding bunch of kids there now.

“which players will you be taking to Saints?”
None. It wouldn’t be fair on Paul or the club.

“What memories of Huddersfield will you take with you?”
Mainly how we now have a Yorkshire son! We arrived with 3 kids and will go home with 4!

“What do you think of the away kit?”
No comment!!

“What about this bad spell we’re going through. What’s going to happen?”
We’ll be OK as the season progresses, just wait and see.

There we are. A snippet of our evening with Nathan. He came across as a really friendly, honest, and likeable guy.

We shall most certainly miss him.

June

24th - Junior Disco

Junior Disco

Before the Broncos home game the Huddersfield Giants Supporters Association (HGSA), with a lot of help from the Huddersfield Giants, held a disco for Junior fans in the Fantastic Media Suite

DJ Mike was spinning the discs, organising the games including the limbo and musical chairs, whilst wearing a wide variety of headgear. Those Junior fans who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and had a nice surprise when Luke O'Donnell, Matty Dawson, and everyone's favourite, Big G, walked in for a chat.

Once the prizes had been handed out everyone wandered off wearily to their seats to watch the win over the London Broncos, and so a good day was had by all.

The HGSA and Huddersfield Giants would like to hear from Junior fans as to what else they might consider putting on to entertain you. The HGSA website is www.giantssupporters.co.uk, where all contact details can be found. Please help us to support the club and its supporters.

More photos can be found inthe Disco Photo Gallery.

12th - Speaker - Derek Wroe

Derek Wroe

Derek Wore was out June guest, and what an entertaining one he was.

It was during the 70s and early 80s when Derek graced the hallowed Fartown turf as our hooker. In the days when hookers were hookers and men were….

It was whilst he was playing in a successful Earlesheaton junior side [they won the U 19 Yorkshire Cup] that Trevor Bedford ‘found’ Derek. His debut was at Hull in September 1972. The coaches at the time were Jack Scroby and Brian Curry. Whilst he was quite well prepared for what happened on the pitch, he was totally unprepared for the Boulevard ‘welcome’!!

A couple of years later he was playing against London at Craven Cottage. Now Fulham’s ground is near Heathrow Airport. It was a close game. At one point, the northern Trevor Leathley said to the northern Peter Cramp “Hey Pete. Have you seen that Jumbo just above us?” “Where? Oh yes. Isn’t it big.”

When the northern pair returned their gaze to the pitch, they found that London had scored a try – down their wing!

In 1978, he and his wife decided to emigrate to New Zealand.

At that time, New Zealand RL had imposed a 12 month ban on importing players, so Derek managed to get a job and a work permit. When he did join a team, they went through the season undefeated.

After 3 years the family chose to return to England. Arriving home to the cold, rain, and fog, to say nothing of the state of the country, Derek wished that they’d never left NZ!

1984/85 season saw Derek being granted a testimonial along with Trevor Leathley. And at the end of that season he was voted the ‘Most Loyal Player’ by the Supporters Club. He then went on to be the Yorkshire winner.

Derek mused that in those days he felt that players were somehow closer to the supporters. They mingled in the clubhouse after games, they lived near each other, and spoke when they passed in the street. “In those days you had to play 10 games before you got a badge for your blazer.”

Derek is now President of the Players Association, an organisation which he joined in 1982 when Hubert Lockwood was its President.

The aims of the association is ‘to assist players who need help and sponsor today’s youngsters’.

One of the many fund raising events they used to stage was an annual panto for their own children and youngsters from Hollybank. Derek particularly remembers one stand out performance, quite literally a stand out, was Tony Johnson playing Snow White!!

When Derek did finally retire – from a career in which he was fortunate enough to never be injured – he really did hang up his boots, never to play again.

An evening of reminisces for both Derek and the assembled throng. An event thoroughly enjoyed by one and all.

May

1st - Speaker - Paul Kilbride

Paul Kilbride

We promised you a moving evening and it certainly was. What follows is a longer than usual report of an evening's talk, but please read through to the end. You will not be disappointed.

Paul decided to tell his story to a wider audience after his session with us last year. He feels that it will help others come to terms with serious injuries. And from what we heard this night it certainly will.

Paul did not start playing rugby until he was 11. It soon became obvious that he had a talent for the sport. Within 2 years he was selected for the Leeds City Boys, a team which stayed together through thick and thin up to the end of the under 17s season.

At 13, he was part of this team which won the England School Cup at Central Park, Wigan - the last team to win there! Along the way they beat an Oldham side in the semi-finals which contained Paul Gardner [Ade's elder brother] and one Paul Sculthorpe].

As a teenager, homelife was normal - Mum, Dad, brother, girlfriend, and 6th form. Paul's thoughts for a career was to stay in some capacity.

Mother's Day 1995 was a Yorkshire League decider against Dewsbury. The team had picked up a few injuries. This list included Paul but because of the shortage of players he decided to play. After 10 minutes he was sent to the sin bin for mouthing - talking to opposition players in such a way as to wind them up!!!

Shortly after returning to the field of play, a scrum collapsed with Paul underneath. Agony followed agony until the ambulance arrived. [Paul would like it noted that he did win the ball before this event took place!]

It was obvious that some form of back injury had occurred and the ambulance crawled at 5 mph to Leeds General Infirmary.

After X-rays and MRI scans, at 6:00 pm - 5 hours after the accident - Paul was informed that he had to have an operation to re-join his spinal cord.

Instead of the hours of coming round after the operation, it took Paul 10 minutes. Saying that he was bored, he asked the nurses to move his bed adjacent to their station so that he could talk to them. Morphine can be a wonderful medicine!!

A spell in Pinderfields followed: 6 weeks flat on his back. The physio then told Paul that he had to learn how to do everything again - from sitting up to dressing himself. He realised that it was up to him to recover as much as possible as quickly as possible. Strenuous gym sessions were the order of the day followed by, well, nothing until bed-time at 10 o'clock.

Nothing, that is, until a group of them realised that there was a pub nearby and that it was possible for them to visit it during the evening. As it happened, this local hostellery was the haunt of the local prison warders who were subsequently bribed to push the wheelchairers back to the hospital in time for bed. Paul did mention something about not being capable of doing this for themselves, although I'm not sure what he meant by this!

Paul had always had a knack of helping others and it was in Pinderfields that he realised that there was always someone worse off than yourself. In this case it was a girl who had lain flat on her back with a broken neck for 2 years. She had admired Paul's jumper. Paul offered to get her one the minute she sat up. Within 2 weeks Paul had to stick to his promise.

Once out of hospital, Paul lived with his Mum & Dad but in the garage which had been specially converted for him. The next few years saw Paul going out with his mates and getting drunk. He also found a job in a bookies, eventually becoming its manager. But then things started to deteriorate.

His Mum & Dad split up so he bought their house, inviting his brother to move back and live with him. He had received no counselling and had kept himself occupied by doing things for others, now it was time to do things for himself. He took time out from work. And the next 4 years were a nightmare.

He applied to Leeds City Council for a flat/house. After months of waiting, they found him one - on a hill thereby requiring a lift and slope to enable him to get from his car to the house door. The lift rarely worked which made Paul virtually a prisoner in his own home. He couldn't go out and rarely saw people.

Unlike in hospital, Paul was no longer in control of his own life.

After 2 1/2 years of hell, together with his Mum he managed to move into a house together. The Rugby League Benevolent Fund became involved and paid for it to be adapted to Paul's needs. Things were looking up.

August 2011 saw Paul meet a wonderful lady: a life-changing event.

They both had baggage from their previous lives, and neither talked about their experiences. Paul became disillusioned about his new found friend but now realises that her 'faults' were really his being mirrored back to him.

It was at this time that Tim Adams, of the RL Benevolent Fund and the Sporting Chance Clinic, asked Paul if he wanted to try some counselling. He agreed and primarily learned that he should not bottle up his emotions. In addition he should not be afraid to say what was on his mind.

Years of bottled up emotions escaped through Paul's eyes on many occasions. He had never cried about his accident before, but now he wasn't afraid to.

He had come to realise that he could now talk about his accident. He could now start to rebuild his life. More importantly, he could help others come to terms with serious events in their lives.

Paul has already started touring schools with is story. We learned that night what an inspiration he is. It is a story well worth hearing first hand, you will not be disappointed. Do not hesitate to contact us so that we can put you in touch with Paul. Again, you will not be disappointed.

3rd - Speaker - Pam Thornes [Trust Manager, Laura Crane Trust]

Pam Thornes, Manager of Laura Crane Trust

Back in the 1990s, Laura was a fit and active teenager. At the age of 15 she was diagnosed with 4 different types of cancer. Laura passed away 2 weeks after her 17th birthday.

Despite all the loving care from friends, relatives, and hospital staff, Laura’s mum was disappointed to find that youths older than 16 had to be treated on adult wards. Photos Consequently she decided to start raising money to help teenagers with cancer through their experiences.

Today, the Laura Crane Trust is a nationwide charity raising money for support mechanisms for young people in hospital. It is the only charity which directs funds into cancer research for 13 to 24 year olds.

As well as having Catherine Tate as its patron, the charity has had the Giants on board as a major partner. In fact, it is the 4th year that th trust has been the 'Charity of Choice of the Giants'.

You may – or may not! – have ogled at the rippling muscles on the bodies of the players who posed for this year’s club calendar. Part of the money raised from this venture went to the Trust. [Ladies, if you do not have a copy, search one out!]

Last year a group of fans, including Ken Davy, took part in the Giant Strides sponsored walk to the Shay Stadium. This year, Robbie Hunter-Paul will be leading [so he thinks!!] another Giant Strides, this time to Odsal when the Giants play the Bulls on the 22nd of April.

In addition, if you fancy a bit of adventure, then there will be a Giant Zipslide at the Galpharm on Saturday 8th of September – “a thrilling 65 feet high, 500 feet long zipslide across the pitch of the Galpharm Stadium.

6th - Cheque Presentation

Dave Calverley & Ken Davy

HGSA's chairman Dave Calverley presenting the Giants' Chairman Ken Davy with a cheque for £250 at the Salford match. The money will be put towards the youth development at the club.

March

6th - Speaker - Brian Heywood & David Gronow - Heritage Evening

Brian Heywood & David Gronow

David recounted the tale of Douglas Clark, a memebr of the Team Of All Talents immediately prior to WW1. Whilst out at the front, Douglas was driving a wagon when a shell exploded sending 3 peices of shrapnel into him. Despite the injury, Douglas's first deeds were to help his fallen comrades.

Douglas was invalided out of the army because of his 90% disability, with the words "you must not, in fact you will never be able to, play sport again" ringing in his ears. By 1921 he was back in the Great Britain RL team. After he retired from the game he loved, he became a world wrestling champion!!

A little known fact is that between 1885 and 1914, every village in and around Huddersfield had a rugby team. Because of the decimation of the male population during the war years, many of those teams never reformed.

ur two guests brought along a whole host of memorabilia for members to browse through.

February

7th - Speaker - Paul Reilly [the legendary former player]

Paul enjoying himself

What an enjoyable evening.

First of all, thanks must be given to Paul for turning up at all. He had to be in Porstmouth at 8 am the following morning but, he said, he knew how important fans were to the club so he knew he had to attend.

You know the saying that if you cut Paul Reilly in half, he would have 'Huddersfield Giants' running through him just like Blackpool rock, well, this meeting just proved that.

He is still as passionate about the club as he ever was, but work commitments prevent him attending many games, although he is still in contact with the players.

Paul was a late starter in RL, he was 14 when he played his first game - and what a life changer, and saver, it was. As he said, "I was living on the Brackenhall estate at the time, so anything could have happened to me!".

Moldgreen was his club. In fact, he is just as passionate about them as he is the Giants. He desperately wants to find a job which will enable him to have time to bring on the juniors so that an open age team can once again bear the name 'Moldgreen'.

After a couple of years he was offered a trial at Halifax. After a month he was informed that there would be a contract for him at the end of the season. Meanwhile Micky Diskin suggested that he pop down to the McAlpine [as the stadium was then]. He met Brain Blacker and immediately felt at home.

His first match, at the age of 18, was as substitute at the Boulevard. Paul didn't think that he would get much of a game. However, Ben Barton got knocked out and the words came "Paul, get ready, you're on". In his first full game, against Widnes, he was Man Of The Match, and he never looked back.

He initially did not hit it off with Tony Smith. As a result he was shipped out to Batley on a month's loan - "the best thing that ever happened to me". He came back a better player and his respect for Tony started to grow.

Tony had a way of saying things like "What, you really can't ride that training bike because your leg hurts? Well, your body does know best, I suppose." Paul got on the training bike!

For the team, the club, and the fans, relegation was the best thing that could have happened. He respects totally all those players who took a pay cut and stayed with the club: players like Steve McNamara, Stanley Gene, Chris Thorman, etc. The winning habit came, and the club has never looked back.

When Jon Sharp arrived, Paul, again, didn't get on with the new coach. But we'll move on!

At the end of his time with the Giants, he was bitterly disappointed to leave. His enjoyable hobby now became a job at Wakefield and then Oldham.

It was in this period that Paul bravely admits to depression setting in. He found life outside the Giants extremely difficult. He had never thought about what he would do when this time came.

Fortunately he did find a job, and he did come through the illness.

Paul is extremely proud of his England caps, despite only playing 15 minutes in his debut [he was on the receiving end of a knock-out blow!!]. In his next match, he was again, Man Of The Match.

Paul's most respected player? Stanley Gene.

A regret? That he didn't have Nathan Brown as his coach. Whilst the club will miss him, the respect that the players have for Baloo will stand us in good stead.

Did he regret not taking up the offers from Saints & Bradford? No. He wanted to stay at the Giants - even though, in retrospect, he would have arrived at Knowsley Road 12 months before Paul Wellens! Who knows what might have been!

We all know that Paul gave a minimum of 110% on the field. But he wasn't afraid to be brash off it. He used to continually tell a young whipper-snapper to '"run your weight". He now feels the Eorl is finally listening to his advice!

Finally, from a personal perspective, for his commitment to the cause, I would have Paul Reilly's photo up there alongside the others in the club's Hall Of Fame. Red and white blood corpuscles? No, Claret & Gold. That's Paul Reilly.

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January

17th - Speaker - Robbie Hunter-Paul [former player & now the club's Business Development Manager]

Robbie in full flow

Robbie was born in a small forestry town in the North Island of New Zealand. Not the mountainous and clear streams of Lord Of The Rings, but a small, grubby town filled with farmers and lumberjacks!

The latter was the profession of his father who, when Robbie was still young, suffered from having his legs crushed by a tree. This necessitated the family moving to Auckland City for his father's rehabitation - a move which ended with Robbie & Henry plying their wares in England.

Their father took them to an international and, at the end of the match, 'threw' the 6-year old Robbie onto the pitch for autographs. He ran up to the giant Australian Wally Lewis, his hero, and asked him to sign his programme. Wally duly obliged and left an indelible mark on Robbie [metaphorically, not physically!]. That was the point when Robbie decided that he wanted to play rugby.

Years later, as he was leaving for England, Robbie's father made him promise to sign every autograph that he was asked for. Many is the time that he has had angry team mates and bus drivers shouting at him to get on the coach instead of fulfilling the promise.

At the end of his playing career with the Giants in 2007, Robbie was all set to sign on the dotted line with the club's marketing team. However, at the last minute he decided that he was not yet old enough, nor mentally ready, to finish his playing career. Hence the move to Salford.

It did make him realise though, that he ought to be prepared for a life 'in the real world', so he started a degree course at the University of Huddersfield in Sports Marketing and Public Relations.

This bore fruit when he returned to his adopted club at the end of 2011 as the Business Development Manager, a position he is slowly coming to understand. "I will make mistakes" he said, "but it won't be from lack of effort. I can function quite effectively with only 6 hours of sleep each night". He put this down to his healthy lifestyle and diet - and herbal tea! The latter is readily available in his office for anyone else who wants to try and kick the coffee habit!

A question and answer session followed before Mick Beevers brought the proceedings to and end with a vote of thanks to Robbie.

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