Family traditions

Not only does John Kitson’s grandfather George have the distinction of captaining Halifax to its first victories in the Championship and Challenge cup, but both successes came in the same season. He was one of the pioneers who played during the first years of the Northern Rugby Football Union. In the 1902/3 season the club reached the Challenge Cup final for the first time. The game took place at Headingley and attracted a record crowd of 32,507. Salford were the opponents and according to the Halifax Courier around 6,000 people travelled by train from Hailfax to Leeds to watch the match, paying 1s 6d per head whilst many more took the cheaper option and as early as 6am the tram to Bradford had around 30 ‘outside passengers’. 

Unfortunately George Kitson missed the final through injury. But after a tight forward dominated struggle Halifax won 7-0. This victory brought the season to a compelling climax which was captured by Andrew Hardcastle in his book the Thrum Hall Story. 

The team arrived back at 8.00pm, their train sporting a blue and white jersey on its front. The King Cross Prize Band then led the procession up Horton Street and on to the Town Hall. The celebrations continued on the Sunday with a dinner at Nont Sara’s and tea at the Derby Inn, Rishworth, as the cup was paraded through the district, but they could not be too hectic as Halifax still had their final league match to play on Monday evening. It was at Leigh, with a draw needed to be sure of the double.