Debut: Vs St Helens (H) 28th November 1959
Honours: Championship (Winner: 1961), League Leaders’ Shield (1960-61), Yorkshire League (1960-61)
When Jack Fairbank signed for Leeds in November 1959 from Huddersfield, he was just the enforcer the Loiners were looking for. A genuine character, he was important in giving the pack its edge.
Traditionally, the Leeds forwards were seen as a malleable unit that opposing sixes could intimidate, get amongst and put off their game but not so with Jack. As so many of the ’61 side have said, if there was trouble ahead, Jack was the perfect man to send in to sort it out. Of farming stock, his physical prowess was much to do with his work there and he was not one for conventions. On away trips to Lancashire he would be picked up on the way and with club etiquette demanding the wearing of blazer and tie. On one such occasion it is said that he wandered straight from the fields in his muddied working clothes but was refused admittance on to the coach by the management who left without him.
Always his own man, it is also said that for the 1961 Championship final at Odsal, he requested to be allowed to make his own way down to the ground from his work place not far above it rather than travel over to Headingley and come back on the bus with the team. On the field, although his menace was most remarked upon, he was a fine footballer with a high knee action running style that made him difficult to tackle. In the title winning side he formed a superb back three in the pack which, in the final, immediately got on top of their opposite numbers. He also crossed for the vital opening try, powering over by the posts having taken a slipped pass from second row partner Dennis Goodwin after fifteen minutes.
He could also be an adept ball handler, setting up a fine chance for centre Vince Hattee just after the break. In all he played 98 times for Leeds, making his debut in a home win over St Helens in November 1959 and was described by team manger over the period, Ken Dalby as, ‘boisterous; finesse and fury went hand in hand.’ His first of 17 tries came in a win over York in April 1960, the second a week later, on Easter Saturday, in a Headingley defeat of Bramley. His most prolific run was during the championship winning season when he scored in four consecutive matches in April, the last at Hull, the only occasion that he crossed in a match when Leeds lost.
The following year, when he was a member of the side that was defeated in the Yorkshire Cup final against holders Wakefield at Odsal, he posted his only two try hauls; at home to Leigh and a week later when Hull K.R. were dispatched in the first round of the county competition.