Featuring Johnny Freeman

Halifax Rugby League Football Club have been privileged to showcase so many great black players over the years from Johnny Freeman in the 50’s and 60’s, Wilf George in the 80’s and 90’s to James Woodburn-Hall in the present day.

We spoke to current Fax star and Jamaican Rugby League International James Woodburn-Hall about the importance of Black History Month…..

“Players like Johnny Freeman we’re such important role models for so many. One of my early inspirations was watching Will Sharp at a Harlequins game” Said Woodburn Hall. “Seeing him play, really inspired me to take up the game of Rugby League”

Today we take a look back at the late Johnny Freeman and the career he had breaking records and barriers along the way.


Born in April 1934 johnny signed for Fax from Cardiff International Athletic Club in December 1954 as a centre, the position he

played in his early games playing alongside Billy Boston.

Both came north at a similar time to join Rugby League, with Freeman going to Halifax, being paid a signing on fee of £1,050 (worth over £60,000 these days).

He made his Halifax debut in December 1954.

Originally a centre he then became a wing sensation, scoring 21 tries in 21 appearances in 1955-56, when he played at Wembley, then a club record 48 in 45 games in 1956-7, then another 38 in the first 20 of 1957-8.

Injury curtailed his 1958 season – ruling him out of a near-certain place on that year’s Lions tour – but by then he had 109 tries in 91 games and cemented a great partnership with centre Geoff Palmer.

In 1963-64 he helped Halifax win the Yorkshire Challenge Cup and the Eastern Championship and then the Rugby League Championship the next season.

Freeman finally retired at the end of his testimonial season with a club record 290 tries in 395 appearances, plus 15 goals.

Freeman stayed in Halifax for many years after his career ended before returning to the Principality but remained an occasional spectator at the club’s home games.


Debut 4th December 1954.

Last match 27th March 1967.

Appearances 395.

290 TRIES, 15 GOALS, 900 POINTS.

Record try scorer of all time with 290, also scoring a record 48 in one season, 1956/7.

A true great of our club and our game.

Johnny Freeman 1934-2017

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