History & Heritage

Halifax Panthers

Halifax Panthers was formed way back in 1873. It was a Rugby Union club in those days, as all rugby clubs were before the birth of Rugby League in 1895, and was very successful in that code. After becoming the first ever winners of the Yorkshire Cup in 1878, Halifax went on to win it on four further occasions. Several players were supplied for the Yorkshire County side in these years, and five were picked for the full England Rugby Union team.

The club moved into their previous home of Thrum Hall in 1886, their home for the next 112 years until the move in 1998 to the re-developed ‘Shay Stadium’ to ground-share with local footballing neighbours, Halifax Town AFC.

Halifax were founder members of the Rugby League (then known as the Northern Union) in 1895. They continued to be very successful, producing one of their best ever teams in the early years of the twentieth century. In season 1902-03 they achieved the ‘double’ by winning the Challenge Cup and finishing top of Division One. They won the cup again the following season, and were the first ever Championship Play-off winners in season 1906-07.

When the Challenge Cup Final was taken to Wembley in 1929, Halifax became one of the first teams to sample its special magic, beating York in the 1931 final. They have since been to Wembley six more times, winning in 1939 and 1987, with their last appearance being in 1988 when they lost to Wigan.

They were the last Yorkshire team to win at Wembley, before Sheffield in 1998 and were the last Yorkshire team to finish top of Division One, achieved in 1985-86, before Bradford Bulls in 1997, the club were also the first winners of the John Player Trophy Special/Regal Trophy in 1972.

The Club reached a major final in the early 1990s when, as a Second Division side, they lost to Wigan in the 1990 Regal Trophy final at Headingley, and again in the 1991 Second Division Premiership Final to Salford who had also beaten them to the league title that same year.

An addition to the Halifax R.L.F.C. name was required upon the formation of ‘Super League’ in 1996 when pre-match entertainment, mascots and summer rugby became the norm when the club was renamed Halifax Blue Sox R.L.F.C. – however the club returned to the traditional Halifax R.L.F.C. at the start of 2003.

The club reached the Cooperative Championship Grand Final in 2009 when they lost narrowly to Barrow 26 -18, but in 2010 the Club went one better and beat Featherstone Rovers in a memorable Grand Final 23-22, Ben Black dropping a goal for the golden point in extra time, Fax having come back from a 22-4 deficit halfway through the second half.

In 2011 the Club reached the Finals of the Northern Rail Cup Final at Blackpool, narrowly losing to Leigh in the last minute.

In 2012 Fax went further than the previous year, winning the Northern Rail Cup at Blackpool, beating the old rivals Featherstone Rovers 21-12.

The sides of the late 1930s and mid-1980s were outstanding teams, but many would claim the best of all was the team of the 1950s. During this decade they were Championship runners-up three times, Yorkshire Cup winners twice, and Yorkshire League winners four times. They figured in two Wembley finals, featuring in the first ever drawn final in 1954, and then in the replay at Odsal Stadium appearing in front of a world record Rugby League crowd of 102,569.

Top Players

There have been many top players over the years, including internationals, tourists and overseas stars. The leading 38 of these are featured in a “Hall of Fame” in the Asda Store at Thrum hall and is also on display in the Bar in the East Stand Dining Function Room at The Shay Stadium.

Karl Harrison holds the record for the Halifax player with the most Great Britain appearances. Karl took over as Coach for the Club at the end of season 2011.

Club Records


Goals: 14, Bruce Burton at Hunslet, 27 August 1972
Tries: 8, Keith Williams v Dewsbury, 9 November 1957
Points: 34, Joe Keyes v Workington Town, 17 July 2022


Goals: 156 Graham Holroyd 2008
Tries: 48, Johnny Freeman 1956–57
Points: 362, John Schuster 1994–95


Goals: 1,028, Ronnie James 1960–72
Tries: 290, Johnny Freeman 1954–67
Points: 2,191, Ronnie James 1960–72

Halifax appearances

Career: Stan Kielty 482 (1946–58)
Season: John Thorley 48 (1956–57)
Consecutive: Dick Davies 108 (1925–28)

Representative appearances

Great Britain: Karl Harrison 11
England: Alvin Ackerley 6
Wales: Arthur Daniels 13

Highest score

94–4 v Myton Warriors (Challenge Cup) 25 March 2012

Biggest loss

6–88 v Hull KR (Northern Rail Cup) 23 April 2006

Record crowd

29,153 v Wigan (Challenge Cup) at Thrum Hall 21 March 1959

All club statistics are courtesy of Andrew Hardcastle (Official Club Historian)