Continuing Martin Stewart’s series on Hunslet’s heritage numbers, from the launch of the club in 1883 to the present day…
Competitive rugby was suspended at the end of the 1914-15 season; however, clubs were allowed to arrange friendly fixtures.
The results of these were compiled into unofficial Merit Tables in the papers.
As many men enlisted to fight in the War, or were working long hours in reserved occupations, clubs found it difficult to raise teams and this is reflected in the number of players who made their debut during the War – over 70 in three seasons.
Season 1917-18 and a short campaign in 1918 were played 12-a-side.
York turned up at Parkside for one match with only six players, as more than half their team had signed up to fight. Hunslet rounded up a few reserves to help them out and an appeal to the crowd raised a couple of volunteers to ensure they turned out with a full complement.
Guest players were also allowed to be selected, the most noteworthy of these was Jonty Parkin from Wakefield Trinity who later went on to tour Australasia three times, twice as captain. Billy Batten’s brother, Eddie, played 21 games while Dinny Campbell was an ex Australian RU international who played over 250 games for Leeds.
Players who only play in friendlies are not normally allocated a heritage number but we feel the Great War should be an exception to this as many played their full Hunslet career during the conflict. Players who played on after the war for Hunslet will be listed as they make their `official’ debuts.
Hunslet’s positions in the unofficial league tables were
1915-16: 14th played 34, won 13, drawn 4, lost 17
1916-17: 18th played 30, won 12, drawn 3, lost 15
1917-18: 15th played 30, won 11, drawn 1, lost 18
In 1918 a six-team short season was played between September and January. Hunslet finished third; played 15, won 6, drawn 1, lost 8.
Full competitive matches recommenced at the start of 1919.