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Lou Brown and the 1931 Challenge Cup Final

The signing of former New Zealand Rugby Union All Black Lou Brown for £500 from Wigan in the autumn of 1930 proved pivotal to Halifax gaining their first major honours since before the First World War. The enigmatic Brown added a finishing ability which saw him top the club’s try scoring that season and play a vital role in the successful Challenge cup run which resulted in the club’s first appearance at Wembley.

However, Brown, who had been part of the successful Wigan side that played in the first final to be held at the stadium two years earlier, was controversially left out of the Wembley line up. The dramatic decision was taken following a breach of club discipline which centred on his unavailability for the final league match of the season, against Featherstone Rovers. With little detail given about the incident, rumours abounded amongst supporters.

Nevertheless, an estimated 7,000 fans made the journey from Halifax to form part of the 40,368 Wembley crowd and they were not to be disappointed. After trailing 8-5 at half time, a scintillating second half performance produced 17 unanswered points and a 22-8 victory, as the Cup came to Thrum Hall for the first rime since 1903. The team returned home on the following Monday to a magnificent reception, which as Club historian Andrew Hardcastle explains;

began with 22 fog detonators (one for each point) exploding on the lines as the train passed over, followed by a coach journey through an estimated 100,000 crowd to a civic reception at the Town Hall, the King Cross band leading the way just as it had done in 1903.