Linda and John Kitson
Both John and Linda Kitson have links with Halifax Rugby League club that stretch back to their childhoods. Linda vividly remembers feeling a sense of excitement on hearing crowds of people walk past her childhood home when matches at nearby Thrum Hall had ended. She soon became aware of the game and her interest was stimulated further when Johnny Freeman, the club’s Welsh winger, came to live in a nearby street. Since that time Linda has remained a loyal and committed supporter of the club and she also married into a family with Rugby League in its blood.
Her husband, John’s grandfather, George, was one of the sport’s pioneers. He was playing for Halifax at the time when the Northern Rugby Union was formed in 1895. He captained the club in the early years of the twentieth century and led it to initial success in both the Championship and Challenge Cup during the 1902-03 season. During the inter-war period two of John’s uncles, John and Harry, also played for Halifax and his father had trials with the club before suffering a career-ending injury.
Unfortunately, John’s own career was also tragically cut short by injury when he was close to signing for his hometown club. He began playing for the Greetland amateur club in his early teens, after returning from Canada where his family had emigrated. By his early twenties John looked likely to follow the family tradition but after playing in a number of trial matches with Halifax he broke his leg and was advised to stop playing the game.
Nevertheless, John still continued the Kitson family’s involvement with Halifax Rugby League club. As well as regularly attending matches, he and Linda actively supported the club through player and kit sponsorship whilst running the local Woolpack pub. More recently, however, they have become involved in the supporters’ trust and through their work in organising events Linda has been able once again to meet up with her childhood hero Johnny Freeman.