Supporters' Association

Examiner Reports: August 2012

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Contents

1st
8th
15th
22nd
29th

1st

In the coming months you will see volunteers with recorders asking if you would like to share your memories of Fartown, the Giants, and RL in the area. Volunteer reporters have now been trained and the process has begun.

The following is part of one such interview:
“It all started back in the 50s when I was 3 or maybe 4. My Dad was the head gateman at Fartown and he used to take me with him to 2nd team matches as his assistant.

After leaving home, the first stop was at the newsagents near the entrance to the ground. Dad would buy a packet of herbal tablets for us to enjoy during the game.

Whilst he was sorting the pre-match details out with the club secretary [Ken Senior, but not THE KS!], I would go to the store beneath some steps and get the touch judges’ flags.

Our gate was at the far end of the stand. He would let me tear out the tickets from the season ticket book. Dad used to collect the money from paying supporters.

Sometimes people would pay an extra penny and arm themselves with missiles should the referee be less than perfect! [Actually hey were ‘cushions’ but were so hard that they did serve as more than adequate projectiles!]

At half time we would go round the various gates where Dad would check the numbers from the turnstiles and then back to the Pavilion with our cash. En route we would pass the wooden refreshment hut. If it was open, Dad would buy me some Oxtail soup and occasionally a pork pie.

At the end of the match we would return to the Pavilion. I was not allowed in the office while the money was being counted. I had to stay in the main hall. However, Dad got me a ham teacake and a packet of Seabrook crisps – with the blue salt packet!

As the players came in I would sometimes get they autographs. They went to the office window, collected their wages, then disappeared into another room. Years later I discovered that this was where the bar was!

Unfortunately I was not allowed to attend 1st team games as Dad was too busy, that started when I was about 10.”

Next Tuesday we have an Aussie from the late 90s who enjoyed the town so much that he married a local girl and opened a sandwich shop in Paddock. Come and hear what Jeff Wittenberg has to say about life with those Giants and why he chose to settle here; Tuesday 7th August, Turnbridge WMC, 7:30 for 7:45 start.

8th

In celebration of the Giants’ Heritage Project, a brief history of the club is being serialised on a monthly basis.

Northern Union & The Team Of All Talents

In 1895 the club were founder members of the Northern Rugby Football Union, (later the Rugby Football League).

The club has seen many ups and downs in its long history, but for the first 60 years of rugby league it was one of the powerhouses of the game, with only Wigan as rivals in terms of trophies won.

Harold Wagstaff was only fifteen years and one hundred and seventy-five days old when he played his first match for Huddersfield, against Bramley in November 1906. At the time, he was the youngest first-team player the game had seen, he had signed on for a £5 signing-on fee.

Huddersfield beat the touring 1908-1909 Kangaroos 5-3. They were impressed enough with stand-off Albert Rosenfeld to sign him up that evening along with Australian Dual Code International Pat Walsh one of the best forwards of the Kangaroos . Rosenfeld played his first game against Broughton Rangers on 11 September 1909.

The club's golden period came around the time of the First World War. The club was able to assemble a team of players from across the British Empire who swept all before them. Known as "The Team of All Talents", they were led by Harold Wagstaff and are still regarded as one of the finest football teams to have ever played. In the five years leading up to the First World War they won 13 trophies.

Two members of the team, centre Harold Wagstaff and wing Albert Rosenfeld, were honoured by inclusion in the original Rugby League Hall of Fame. They were later joined by the Cumbrian second row Douglas Clark. Of just seventeen players to be elected to the Hall of Fame, no fewer than three were teammates in that famous Huddersfield side. In total, Huddersfield boast five representatives in the Hall of Fame, more than any other club.

The particular fame of "The Team of All Talents" sprung from their extraordinary three quarter play. In 1911-1912, Rosenfeld became the first player to score more than 50 tries in a season - a feat previously thought to be impossible. That season he scored 78. His wing partner, Stanley Moorhouse scored 52. In 1912-1913, Rosenfeld scored 56, and then in 1913-1914 he broke his own record with 80 tries, a record which stands to this day.

See you on Friday at Salford and Saturday at the Giants v Legends cricket match. Both should be excellent events.

[If anyone would like to be involved with the Heritage Project, in particular scanning items for the website, please get in touch with Dave Calverley.]

15th

Our latest guest speaker was 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 Grand 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 himself 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 Elliott, 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 regular in 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 career, 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 Aussie 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 him with 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.

22nd

September’s Meeting

Our guests in September communicate with the public on a weekly basis in this esteemed publication. One is earmarking a career in broadcasting, already being a regular with Radio Leeds. Together they perform weekly in front of thousands and are generally acclaimed as stars of the performance.

You will not be getting Little & Large, but the Giants’ equivalent – Eorl Crabtree and Luke Robinson.

So set a date for a night with the stars – Tuesday, 4th September at Turnbridge WMC, 7:30 for a 7:45 start.

Wagstaffe Trophy

Last year we decided to award an annual trophy to one of the players. As there were already lots of different categories, we decided upon the loose description of ‘the player you would least like to see leave the Giants’. Last year Scott Grix was our choice.

It might be an unsung hero, for example Michael Lawrence for his sustained performances not only when the team was flying high but also when they were in the doldrums.

It might be for the extended loyalty shown by Eorl Crabtree.

It might be for the on-field brilliance of Danny Brough.

And so the list goes on. Whatever reason you can think of, then that is the criteria for you to apply.

List you top three in order. Your top choice will receive 3 points, 2nd – 2, and 3rd – 1. The player with the highest score will be awarded the Wagstaffe Trophy [named in honour of one of the town’s greatest products who started his career at Underbank]. It will be presented at the club’s upcoming awards dinner.

Members can vote online or on paper. Forms are available at our meeting or from any committee member.

Annual General Meeting

After two successful years, we are looking for new blood to help take HGSA forward. The current committee members are willing to continue, but not necessarily in their current positions. All are willing to let a new member step into their shoes. We want to expand, we need your ideas and help.

Nominations can be done online or via a form available from any committee member.

29th

So what makes our game TGG**?

We've just had the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. A great shame that we were not playing there this year, but 2009 still holds fond memories.

Take the pre-match meet-up at a local hostellery. Judging by the shirts people were wearing, there must have been supporters from over 50 different clubs represented. All having a good time, exchanging stories and banter.

However, there were a couple of miserable looking guys not joining in the festivities – the doormen. They looked downright miserable.

Upon questioning one of them, it transpired that they were bored because there was nothing to do! There never was at rugby matches!

Now soccer, well, that was a different matter! Prior to those matches, the local council went round each pub and told the landlord which team's supporters were to be allowed in. Total segregation. Nothing like this happy crowd, all mixing together and having a great time.

Television news the next day spent many minutes showing how the 'fans' of two soccer teams achieved their pleasure after a match. There were hundreds of them fighting in the streets. In fact, this riot featured in the news for several days afterwards.

What was particularly annoying was the fact that not one mention was made of the peaceful comradery which had been shown between rival fans of the Rugby League fraternity.

Still, bad news is news and good news is, well, forgotten.

** TGG? The Greatest Game.

Memory Joggers:

• September 4th, meet Eorl & Robbo at Turnbridge WMC, 7:30 for a 7:45 start;

• Wagstaffe Trophy – if you have not yet voted do so without delay, the presentation will be on Monday next at the club's end of season dinner;

• AGM – October 2nd, nominations are now being accepted for your new committee;

• November 6th – controller of referees, Stuart Cummings;

• December – our ever popular Reindeer Race Night.

Voting forms & nominations can be done online or via a form available from any committee member.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Huddersfield Examiner
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