During the late 1940s and the 1950s Halifax were amongst the game’s strongest sides, pulling in average crowds of over 11,000 and remaining unbeaten at their home ground of Thrum Hall between December 1952 and November 1956!
Yet for fans of the club this period holds many poignant memories. The team appeared in 3 Championship finals, in 1952-53, 1953-54 and 1955-56, and 3 Challenge Cup finals, in 1949, 1954 and 1956, which all ended in defeat.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking period came between 1953 and 1956. In 2 seasons out of 3 Halifax reached both the Championship and Challenge Cup finals only to fall at the final hurdle. After securing a Yorkshire league and cup double in 1955-56, the club was in sight of winning all four cups. Wembley was reached for the third time in seven years following a thrilling Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Wigan. Ken Dean and Geoff Palmer scored the tries in an 11-10 victory at Odsal before a crowd of around 58,000. The Club’s hopes of success were increased further by a 23-8 Championship success against Challenge Cup final opponents St Helens in the Championship semi final.
Wembley, however, proved to be a major disappointment as St Helens ran out 13-2 winners. A week later Halifax again came sickeningly close to victory in the Championship match against Hull at Manchester’s Maine Road. In front of a huge crowd, Halifax held an 8-9 lead going into the closing stages of the game and to the fans the match was as good as theirs. However; a call for off-side in the final moments allowed Hull’s Collin Hutton to kick a last minute penalty goal and secure a 10-9 victory for the Arlie Birds, much to the dismay of the Halifax fans.