26 Oct 2019
8 Huddersfield Lions
With Eight Days until Seat Renewal Day, we take a look at 8 Lions
DOUGLAS CLARK (11 Tests - 1911-1920)
Douglas Clark was a man heavily involved in the glory years of Huddersfield, winning Leagues and Cups aplenty and making almost 500 appearances. In his first season, Clark helped Fartown to a Yorkshire Cup. Following on, the next year Clark was involved in Championship win against Wigan and the Yorkshire Cup win over Hull Kingston Rovers. It was in 1911 that Clark first got his call up to the Lions squad as an Ashes series was on the horizon with Australia touring.
After Great Britain lost the first test, Clark was called into the side that drew 11-all. He then went on to play the final test which the Lions lost. In 1914, he was involved in the famous tour of Australasia, that started as war was declared. He played in all three of the Ashes tests that year as Great Britain completed a famous win. After receiving a military medal for his services in the war he made another trip to Australasia, once again playing all three Ashes ties.
HAROLD WAGSTAFF (12 Tests - 1911-1922)
Harold Wagstaff is one of the great names of Huddersfield, making his debut for the club in 1906, and seeing out a fantastic 19 year career in 1925. He played 446 games, scoring 175 tries and becoming an icon of early rugby league. He made his debut at age 15 and it took just 4 years later became the Huddersfield captain aged 19. Leading the side to League and Cup success throughout his one-club career.
In 1908, he was part of the England side that played against the ‘First Kangaroos’ that toured. By 1914 he appointed captain of Great Britain for the tour of Australia and New Zealand, and played in all three tests, including captaining the famous ‘Rorke’s Drift’ decider, which GB won. He was also the captain for the 1920 Ashes tour, which didn’t end as famously for the GB side, before making his final appearance for the Lions in 1922, in an Ashes game that saw Great Britain regain the Ashes on home soil.
FRED LONGSTAFF (2 Tests - 1914)
Fred Longstaff is one of many heroes of the Great War, and one of Huddersfield’s greats of rugby league. We don’t know his exact date of but born in the third 1⁄4 of 1890, he signed for Huddersfield in 1911. He was part of the 1912-13 side that won the Northern Union League, Challenge Cup and Yorkshire League treble and in 1914 was rewarded with a Great Britain call up.
Great Britain’s tour of Australia and New Zealand is one of sports memorable events, as war was declared. It was only the second Lions tour of Australasia and after winning the first test, injury prevented Longstaff making more appearances in that Ashes series. He did play in the sole test against New Zealand in August, before returning home and preparing to go to war, like many of his teammates and fellow sportsman.
Fred died fighting for his country during the Battle of the Somme, on July 22nd 1916, aged 25/26.
DAVE VALENTINE (15 Tests - 1948-1954)
David Valentine was born in Scotland in 1926, and understandably began his career in the 15-man code but made his switch to rugby league in 1947, age 21. Valentine was a rugby league one-club man, spending ten years with Fartown between 1947 and 1957. He made 356 appearances and scored over 200 points for the club.
His representative career included appearances for Great Britain, Other Nationalities (a take on the exiles side we’ve seen more recently), British Empire XIII and Combined Nationalities. However, we are here to focus on his Lions games and his first series was a successful Ashes in 1948, where he played all three games. He played all three games in the 1954 Ashes series and was the first captain to lift the Rugby League World Cup, when his Great Britain side beat France in 1954.
MICK SULLIVAN (46 Test - 1954-63)
Mick Sullivan signed for Huddersfield in 1952, and made over 100 appearances in Fartown before playing for Wigan and St. Helens, amongst others. In 1952-53, Sullivan was involved in the double cup success, winning both the Yorkshire cup and the Challenge Cup. He totaled 93 tries in his time at Huddersfield. It was a record fee that saw Sullivan leave the club after a sterling 5 years.
In 1954, Sullivan was called into the Great Britain squad for the first ever Rugby League World Cup. It was a four team competition that year, held in France and it was Great Britain and France that benefited as they became the first World Cup finalist. Sullivan lined up in that test match, as the Lions became the first World Cup winners. Sullivan is one of Huddersfield’s and
Great Britain’s highest capped players in history, playing 46 times for GB, 3 times for England and once for a GB and France team.
FRANK DYSON (1 Test - 1959)
Frank “Spanky” Dyson made over 350 appearances for Fartown between 1949 and 1963, and is known as one of the most prolific kickers in rugby league history. On Saturday 12th May 1962, he played at Odsal in front of over 80,000 people, as Fartown became the most unlikely of champions in a 14-5 victory over Wakefield - Avenging the Wembley lost one week earlier. One week after the Championship win, he became the record points holder for the club totalling 2,072 points.
His sole Great Britain appearance came during his testimonial year in 1959, with the Australian’s touring for an Ashes Series. Great Britain lost the first test match, and Dyson’s introduction in the second test proved to make some difference as the Lions went on to win 11-10 at Headingley.
TOMMY SMALES (8 Tests - 1962-1965)
Rather unbelievably there were two Tommy Smales playing top level rugby league in the 1950s and 60s but it is Huddersfield’s Tommy that we are focused on who went on to represent his country on 9 occasions (GB and England). He signed for Huddersfield from Featherstone in 1955, spending 9 years with the club and making almost 300 appearances. He won the Championship with the side in 1962, at Odsal.
He made his Great Britain debut in 1962 against France, and went on to make 8 appearances in the Blue, White and Red of GB, scoring two try’s. His first 5 appearances coming whilst he played for the Fartown club, and three against New Zealand in 1965, whilst he was a Bradford Northern player.
JERMAINE MCGILLVARY (0* Tests - *due to make his debut on Saturday 26th*)
We would be foolish to not mention this years Huddersfield representative for the Great Britain side.
Jerry has become an ever-present on the international scene after his amazing career, to date, with the Giants. His debut was in 2010 and since then the winger has come on leaps and
bounds and was involved in Huddersfield big return to the top in 2013, as the Giants lifted the League Leaders Shield. In 2015, his immense form in Super League earned him the top try scorers title and an England call up.
He was one of the two ‘controversial’ selection changes to Steve McNamara’s side for the third and final test match at the DW Stadium. The series was poised at 1-1, and Jermaine with the final game set in Wigan, it seemed unlikely that McGillvary would replace Joe Burgess, but he did and the rest is history. Since McGillvary has been in every England squad and started in England’s first World Cup final, that was lost 6-0 in Australia, in 2017. He is now set to start in the famous Great Britain shirt and join the Huddersfield Legends to represent the Lions.