On this Day – 12th May

On George VI’s Coronation Day, May 12th, 1937, Leeds and Salford staged an exhibition game at Headingley which saw both sides playing with 12 men and only five in the pack. The idea came from Lance Todd, the Salford manager at the time and noted visionary after whom the man of the match award at Wembley is now named. Eric Harris scored two tries as Leeds won 15-9 in a match acknowledged as being, ‘quicker, as the ball spent less time in and around the scrum’.

ON THIS DAY in 1930 Leeds took on Huddersfield in the Championship Play Off final. In the semi the Loiners had played St Helens, the team who had knocked them out of the Challenge Cup that year, but this time they got it right winning 10-6 to book a place in the final to play fellow Yorkshire team Huddersfield. The two teams originally lined up to play in the final two days earlier at Wakefield, but on that occasion for the first time in the tournament’s history the game ended in a draw, setting up this replay at Thrum Hall. Leeds were unfortunate at two of their players – Moore and Gill were ruled out of the game as they were unfit and during the game Williams had to leave the pitch when he suffered an injury. The Huddersfield defence played well throughout the game and prevented the Loiners scoring a single point throughout the game, meaning the 10 points they scored was enough to seal the Championship.

ON THIS DAY in 1997 the Rhinos announced the signing of Andy Hay from Sheffield Eagles. Andy was an integral part of the Rhinos squad which made the inaugural Grand Final in 1998 and likewise coming off the bench in the Challenge Cup Final in 1999. Andy was a tremendous try scorer for the club with his powerful running style which has seen him score three hat-tricks in his time at the club, two in 1999 season (against Widnes in the cup and Bradford in the league) and then he scored four tries against London in the opening game of the 2002 season. He started a total of 125 games for the club with 40 substitute appearances also. In total he scored 50 tries. At the end of the 2002 season Andy was released from the final year of his contract and signed for Widnes Vikings.

ON THIS DAY in 1999 Leeds travelled to Salford to play the Reds for the first time that season. Just three games prior to this fixture the team had captured the Challenge Cup but had then been brought down to earth with a 62-18 defeat to St Helens. They bounced back from this loss to beat Wakefield and in this game claimed another victory. Marcus St Hilaire, Ryan Sheridan, Anthony Farrell and Darren Fleary all scored a try each and Francis Cummins kicked two conversions, whilst Iestyn Harris added the rest of the points with three conversions, to bring the final score to 38-30.

ON THIS DAY in 2006, Leeds took on Hull FC at Headingley. Tony Smith’s side were in a run of indifferent form and suffered a heavy home defeat to the Airlie Birds with former Rhino Gareth Raynor scoring a hat trick.

ON THIS DAY in 2007, Leeds were eliminated from the Challenge Cup at home by Wigan. Leeds had taken the lead early on through Clinton Toopi but Wigan managed to get in front and kept themselves at arms length with regular scores including one for former Rhino Mark Calderwood. The Rhinos gave themselves hope with a late try but Wigan held on to win 22-18 and knock the Rhinos out of the Cup.

ON THIS DAY in 2016, Leeds endured a new low in a bitterly disappointing season as they lost out to Castleford Tigers 52-12 at Headingley. The Tigers assault was led by Luke Gale, who was in imperious form against Leeds as the Rhinos were in the middle of a seven game losing run that ultimately condemned the Champions to the Qualifiers at the end of the season.

ON THIS DAY in 1934, former Leeds hooker Bernard Prior was born. Originally from Hunslet, he had been expected to sign for his the Parksiders as a junior but opted instead to come across the city to join Leeds in 1951.

In September 1956 he made his debut and became a mainstay of the side. He memorably scored a crucial try in Leeds’ win over Australia in his debut season. He dominated the scrum in the Challenge Cup semi final win over Whitehaven to send help send Keith McLellan’s team to Wembley to face Barrow on the eve of his 23rd birthday. The measured pass, timed to perfection, that sent fullback Pat Quinn diving over to open the account against Barrow; the final whistle, that brought tears of joy and a winner’s medal to set alongside one for the Yorkshire League Championship. Some birthday!

He remained at Leeds until midway through the 1960-61 campaign, with youngster Barry Simms having secured the number nine shirt, so when loose-forward Brian Shaw was signed in a sensational £13,500 deal, Hunslet were only too happy to welcome back their ‘prodigal son’ in part-exchange.

Nor was their faith misplaced, for during his five-year stint (149 appearances) Bernard played no small part in helping to generate a long-awaited Parkside revival: in 1962, a Yorkshire Cup Final win over Hull Kingston Rovers; in 1963, the Division Two championship; honour in defeat in two Finals in 1965, the first at Wembley in the classic end-to-end clash with Wigan, and the second as Yorkshire Cup runners-up to Bradford Northern. Then, in March 1966, and certainly not before time, came international recognition with a Test appearance against France at Central Park

And how he responded at the age of 32, when Trinity dialled PRIOR for possession, making 27 appearances in Belle Vue colours, and heeling so consistently in the 1967 Championship Final replay that St Helens were humbled by 21 points to 9 at Station Road, following the 7 – 7 draw at Headingley.

He passed away in June 2012.