Rugby League’s great innovators! That’s Hunslet who have, in addition to being the first to pull off several cup-winning feats or to feature in the finals of new competitions, have introduced a number of fresh concepts, many of which have stood the test of time for the sport as a whole.
The list – which may not be complete – includes:
1905-06 The first team to win the Yorkshire Cup, beating Halifax 13-3 at Bradford Park Avenue.
1907-08 The first team to win All Four Cups (Championship, Challenge Cup, Yorkshire League and Yorkshire Cup)
1911-12 Lucius Banks became the first black man – and the first American – to play Northern Union/Rugby League. Signed by Hunslet in January 1912, he played eleven games (plus three the following season) scoring five tries.
1937-38 The first club to `pad’ goal-posts. Hunslet’s were five feet high and were made of soft rubber.
1937-38 The first club to open a `publicity store’.
1937-38 The first team, together with opponents Leeds, to play a major final – the Championship Final – at a soccer ground. Leeds United’s Elland Road hosted a 54,000 crowd that witnessed an 8-2 win for the Parksiders. Hunslet’s posts were used for the occasion and fullback Jack Walkington may therefore have become the first man to kick a goal through his own posts…
1945-6 The first club to appoint a coach, former captain Jack Walkington taking his place in the dugout. Walkington quickly installed, at Parkside, what is believed to be Rugby League’s first `weights room’.
1958-59 The first club to switch a league game to a soccer ground, hosting Leeds at Leeds United’s Elland Road. Hunslet, who were championship runners-up to St Helens that season, won the Monday evening clash 15-8 before a crowd of 19,000. The attendance, which was viewed as “disappointing”, would probably have been much greater but for the wet weather.
1962-63 The first team to win Division Two on the reintroduction (in an aborted three-year experiment) of two divisions.
1970 Geoff Gunney became the first Rugby League player to be awarded the MBE
1973 The first club to have TV-aerial style goalposts (personally installed by Gunney), supported by a single stanchion on the dead-ball line.
1974-75 The first club to use a helicopter to dry out a pitch, ahead of the third round Challenge Cup tie against Warrington at Leeds Greyhound Stadium.
1986-87 The first team (with Swinton) to appear in the Division Two Premiership Final at Old Trafford.
1997 The first team (with Hull KR) to appear in the (one and only) Plate Final at Wembley.
2017 The first team to win the (one and only) Kingstone Press League 1 Shield.