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Neil Fox

Neil Fox

Neil Fox scored more points than any other player in the history of the game; 6,220 from 358 tries and 2,574 goals in 828 matches for his six clubs, his country and other representative sides. He also scored another 102 points when he was a player-coach in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1975.

He was one of the finest centre three-quarters rugby league has ever seen, but his last nine seasons were spent as a swift and canny forward, playing either at number thirteen or in the second row.

Before then, it had been unthinkable for a full decade that Great Britain should take the field without him, and no centre before him had ever played twenty-nine test matches in those colours. He was devastating up the middle at 6ft. and 15st., and his left boot put points on the board with the regularity of a metronome. When the other centre was Eric Ashton, the Lions were invariably in the driving seat.

Fox was one of three brothers from Sharlston, the Yorkshire pit village that also produced the Hall of Fame's Jonty Parkin a generation earlier - who all made their mark in the game; but Don and Peter started at Featherstone Rovers, like their father before them, whereas when Neil became a professional it was by signing for Wakefield Trinity in October 1955, when he was sixteen. He had already captained Yorkshire Schoolboys (and shown immense promise as a soccer player, too), and was at once made captain of Trinity's junior side before rapid promotion to the 'A' team. He got into the first team against Keighley in November 1956, and later that season was in the first Wakefield side to beat the Kangaroos since Jonty Parkin was in his prime: they won 17-12, and Fox kicked four goals.

From 1957-8 he was an automatic choice in the centre and the preferred goal-kicker, whose value was illustrated by a sequence of five victories in two weeks, when Wakefield scored 202 points, Fox's share being 106. By the end of that season, he had kicked 124 goals, which was a new club record; and he had equalled Dennis Boocker's four-year-old try-scoring record, with thirty-two. His 344 points were well ahead of anything a Wakefield player had run up before.

By the time he was finished at Belle Vue, the following club records would be his, and have remained his ever since: twelve goals in a match, against Batley in 1967 and Workington in 1970 (equalled by Bernard Ward in 1971); thirty-three points in a match, against Batley in 1967; 163 goals in a sea-son in 1961-2; 407 points in a season in 1961-2; 272 tries in his career in 1956-69 and 1970-74; 1,836 goals in his career in 1956-69 and 1970-74; 4,488 points in his career in 1956-69 and 1970-74.

Just after his twenty-first birthday in 1960, Fox kicked seven goals and scored two tries when Trinity demolished Hull 38-5 in the Challenge Cup Final, a record twenty points from one player at Wembley.

Two years later, Wakefield returned to the stadium and beat Huddersfield 12-6, Fox taking the Lance Todd award after scoring a try and dropping three goals. His hat-trick of Wembley appearances came in 1963, when Wigan were beaten 25-10, Fox contributing four conversions and a penalty. He was made captain the season after that, but relinquished it after the club had only won the Yorkshire Cup that year, because he felt it was affecting his form. It was therefore under Harold Poynton's captaincy that Trinity won their two championships, in 1966-7 and 1967-8; but Neil Fox was a vital member of those teams, though in the second season he missed many games through injury. He was also absent hurt when his brother Don won the Lance Todd trophy and kicked two goals, but missed the match winning 'sitter' in the 1968

At the start of the following season he left Wakefield for Bradford, but returned after less than a year, playing his last game for Trinity on 10 March, 1974, when he scored seven points against Hull KR. The remainder of his career was spent as both player and coach with Hull KR, York, Bramley, Huddersfield and Bradford again, as well as in Wellington. He finally hung up his boots on 19 August 1979, after kicking a couple of goals for Northern in a Yorkshire Cup win at Huddersfield.

See also Wakefield Trinity

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This page (nfox.htm) was last modified on Tuesday 24/04/2012