In the 1950s Ken Dean was one half of a partnership that became synonymous with Halifax Rugby League club. Alongside scrum half Stan Kielty, he played stand off behind the redoubtable Halifax forward pack as the club came close to winning major honours in perhaps the most competitive era in the history of the game.
Whilst growing up in Halifax in the 1930s Ken followed the professional local side and played Rugby League at school. But like many players of that generation his career was interrupted by military service. He was called up at the end of the War. But after returning home it only took a handful of matches with local amateur side Greetland before Ken graduated to the professional game. He joined Halifax in 1948 as the club was rebuilding its side and was initially deputy to Stan Kielty in the scrum half position. But Ken switched to play stand off alongside Kielty during the 1948/49 season and the pair became regular half back partners in the following year.
It was from this point onwards that Ken’s career really took off as Halifax became major force in British Rugby League. Over the next decade he appeared in 3 championship finals, 2 Challenge Cup finals and 2 Yorkshire Cup finals with Halifax. However, the only successes came in county competitions with cup final victories in 1954 and 1955 and Yorkshire League titles in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1958. The club suffered the heartbreak of reaching both the Championship and Challenge cup finals in 1954 and 1956 and falling short at the last hurdle each time. Two of the finals were agonisingly close affairs. The 1954 the Challenge Cup decider at Wembley finished in an 4 all draw before Warrington ran out 8 – 4 winners in front of over 100,000 spectators at Odsal, whilst in 1956 a last minute penalty goal by Colin Hutton gave Hull a 10 – 9 victory in the championship final at Main Road Manchester.
Nevertheless Ken’s form with Halifax was sufficient to bring representative honours. He appeared 11 times for Yorkshire, 9 of them alongside Stan Kielty, and was a member of sides county championship winning sides in 1951/2, 1953/4 and 1957/8. He also played for England on two occasions against the Other Nationalities, the first in 1951 and the second in 1952. In all he made 394 appearances for Halifax, scored 89 tries and kicked 65 goals. After spending some time away from the game when his playing career finished in 1960, he had spells on the coaching staff at Bradford and Halifax. But although his involvement in professional Rugby League ended over 3 decades ago Ken is still a popular figure around Halifax.