Born and bred south of the river and educated at Bewerley Street School, at a time when Edgar Meeks, the Hunslet Vice-Chairman, was Headmaster, and Harry Jepson a member of Staff, Syd Hynes would surely have been snapped up as a youngster by the Parkside club had he not been something of a late developer. As it was, straying from the fold after a spell with Hunslet Juniors, he eventually switched to ‘Union’, albeit with little real prospect, one would have thought, of ever catching the eye whilst playing, mostly at serum-half, with unfashionable Leeds NALGO. Not that he had any intention of waiting on events indefinitely. Making his way to Headingley to ask for trials, he played two of his four ‘A’ team games at No 7 and was promptly signed as a professional in October 1964, some three months after celebrating his 21st birthday.
The key of the door at last! And a master-key at that! Developing into a tenacious, no-quarter-asked-or-given centre of quick-witted resource and lively imagination, he was destined to play an increasingly prominent role from 1966 onwards, as the Loiners climbed from a barren valley of desolation to enjoy eight fabulous seasons on fertile uplands of matchless endeavour, with trophies merely the by-product of rugby as superb as any ever witnessed at Headingley. League Leaders on five occasions and Yorkshire Champions on four, of the fourteen Finals they, contested he missed only the 1972 League Championship.
As for representative honours, the first of his four appearances for Yorkshire, in September 1968, followed in due course by a couple of debut tries for England versus Wales, opened the way for a dream Tour in 1970, with several Australian clubs bidding in vain for his services and a place in the Great Britain side virtually guaranteed until injuries intervened in 1971
Honours of every description, medals galore, his 32nd birthday only a matter of weeks away, and a gammy knee to prove it. In June 1975, immediately following the completion of Roy Francis’ second term at Headingley, came Syd’s bombshell appointment as the first, and currently still the only player-coach in the history of the Club. Nor had he long to wait before registering his first success, taking over at serum-half in the Yorkshire Cup Final, (he had his NALGO card, of course), and countering the wiles of Roger Millward as the Loiners put paid to Hull Kingston Rovers by 15 points to 11. That, however, ended the ‘honeymoon’, with no further cause for celebration until victory over Featherstone Rovers in the 1976 Final gave him his sixth Yorkshire Cup-winner’s medal, and his last as a player, for just five weeks later an injury sustained in a 3rd Round John Player match against Castleford precipitated the decision to hang up his boots and concentrate on coaching.
355 appearances, thrills and spills, peaks of glory, troughs of doldrum despair, hero and villain! Always only too ready to ‘make his presence felt’ if need be, even at risk of incurring the referee’s displeasure, the shadow of notoriety cast by his dismissal midway through the second half of the 1971 Wembley Final was a regrettable smudge on a canvas with so many highlights. The reduction of Eric Ashton, Wigan’s renowned C-in-C, to puppet-on-a-string serfdom at Station Road in the 1968 Challenge Cup semi-final, the electrifying magic of those double-bluff scissor variations with winger Alan Smith, the burst on to Bill Ramsey’s reverse pass, to leave Mantle and Karalius in his wake and sail over alongside the posts in the BBC 2 Floodlit Final. Success as a stop-gap goal-kicker, particularly in ’72-73, with eight against both Wigan and Bramley, and seven more against Hull, the outrageous dummy, bought by all and sundry, friend and foe alike, at Salford in 1975. Ecstasy, just three months later, as he broke clear in the Premiership Final, yet only to collapse with a pulled hamstring even as he touched down and, for his part, the one moment to treasure above all others: seizing on Mal Reilly’s astute grubber-kick and going between the posts in the crucial 3rd Test at Sydney in 1970. So many games, so many memories.
And now, it was a case of ‘watch and pray’ from the coaching sidelines. Not that the Almighty seemed to be particularly interested! At all events, somewhat the worse for wear and sadly in need of more than fine tuning, Headingley’s creaking bandwagon proceeded to break down time and again in the various competitions. Even so, three years running, Harry Houdini Hynes, escapologist-extraordinary, contrived to silence his critics and confound the disciples of gloom and doom with a miraculous end-of-season spectacular in May 1977, that marvellous Wembley triumph by 16 points to 7 over Widnes a year later, it was Wembley again with St Helens the victims as the Loiners rallied heroically to wipe out a ten-point deficit and retain the Cup in a breathtaking climax. Then, in May 1979 with pride already in pawn and honour in hock, came the hour of redemption against Bradford Northern in the Premiership Final at Fartown. Furthermore, before he resigned in April 1981 he notched up two more Yorkshire Cup successes, over Halifax and Hull Kingston Rovers, to finish with a proud record as player-coach and coach: seven Finals, and never on the losing side!