Debut: Vs Wakefield Trinity (A) 15th December 1974
Honours: Challenge Cup (Winner: 1977, 1978), Yorkshire Cup (Winner: 1975-76, 1976-77, 1979-80), Premiership (Winner: 1978-79)
Neil Hague achieved something few others could claim, to play in every backs jersey for Leeds. He always put the team first, often the victim of a utility tag which mitigated against regular inclusion. Some of the winners’ medals he gathered in a glorious 14 year career of over 400 games bears that selflessness out; full-back in two Yorkshire Cups and a Premiership, right wing and left centre in other county success and right centre in consecutive Wembley triumphs.
And yet his favoured position was stand off. He made his first team debut in December 1974, barely a year after signing, coming on as a sub in a defeat at Belle Vue. A month later, he made his first start at York. But the student and former Leeds Supporters player and then Colt, was also superb for team spirit, epitomising the phrase ‘one of the lads.’ It is illustrated by a tale he tells of his early years when coached by Roy Francis, who he returned to the club for the season that included Hague’s bow. “I used to drink in the True Briton and I dropped in one Friday night. I was playing for the ‘A’ team the next day, ordered a pint and the man in front of me at the bar turned round and said, “That’ll be a shandy will it?” It was Roy and from that day on he called me Tetley.” One of the things Francis liked about his young star in the making was his tendency for the unorthodox, the maverick, which was also admired by his successor Syd Hynes, who he had played alongside when he broke through.
He scored his first try in a 17-16 win at Dewsbury in mid-march 1975 and, by the following season was a regular, picking up his first medal in the Yorkshire Cup win over Hull K.R. He loved the Challenge Cup and was superb as Leeds looked to retain the trophy in 1978. He was a try scorer in an excellent, surprise 28-2 win at Wakefield in the second round and wrapped up the spoils in a terrific tussle with Bradford in the quarter final, with over 18,500 packing in at Headingley. In the tensest of semis against Featherstone at Odsal, he crossed again and was an important part of the second half revival that secured a last gasp win over Saints in the decider.
In 1978-9, he was switched to full back in an injury crisis and was Player of the Season at Leeds, coming into contention for the Ashes squad, selected before he had won a Premiership final. He made four appearances for Yorkshire (in 1977, ‘80 and ‘81), one off the bench, and was awarded a testimonial in 1984 which yielded £18,125. Often unsung, he made 57 consecutive appearances between 1982 and ’83 and finished his career with Halifax and then York whilst also coaching at East Leeds.
He is the uncle of Anthony and David Gibbons.