HECTOR HALSALL – SWINTON LEGEND OF ‘28
06 November 2020
Today we celebrate one of our club’s most famous sons, Hector Halsall, the legendary captain of Swinton’s most famous all-conquering team. It was exactly 100 years ago today that Hector made his Lions’ debut, following a relatively low-profile arrival from Wigan.
Halsall’s name is one of the most famous in our club’s history, as it is he that will be forever remembered as the captain of the immortal Swinton team which carried off “All Five Cups” in the 1927/1928 season – Championship, Challenge Cup, Lancashire League, Lancashire Cup and the Hospital Cup.
Ironically Hector came to the Lions from Wigan almost by accident in 1920, after Swinton had initially enquired about a different player. Hector, born at Wigan in 1900, soon established himself as a great defensive centre with a noted body swerve when in attack. He made his Swinton debut against St Helens Recreation on 6 November 1920, exactly a 100 years ago to this day.
Hector’s great leadership and sportsmanship qualities soon came to the fore, and he was appointed club skipper at the start of the 1922/23 season at the age of only 22. Hector then led the Lions to all of their major triumphs of the 1920s, except for the 1926 Challenge Cup Final victory that he missed through injury.
The unrivalled period of success actually started with a little heartbreak. In the 1923 Lancashire Cup final the Lions went down to St Helens Recreation at a frosty Central Park, then a season later Swinton’s favouritism counted for nothing when they lost narrowly to Hull KR in the Championship Final. Hector finally got his hands on silverware when Swinton defeated Wigan in the final of the 1925 Lancashire Cup, but had to watch injured from the sidelines as his team defeated Oldham later that campaign in the Challenge Cup final.
In season 1926/27 Swinton carried off the Championship for the first time in their history after defeating St Helens Recs in the final at Wilderspool. The Lions also reached the Challenge Cup final again, but match day injuries in the days before substitutes severely hampered them and Oldham got their revenge.
The best of course was yet to come. In the 1927/28 season Hector skippered the Lions to victory over Wigan again in the Lancashire Cup, to which they would add the Lancashire League title. Then Hector was captain again when the Lions defeated Warrington 5-3 in the 1928 Challenge Cup final at Wigan – the last before the event was taken to Wembley.
A few days later Hector scored a try in the Championship Final at Watersheddings against Featherstone Rovers, this being the game which marked the pinnacle of all the Lions’ achievements. That said and for good measure, Swinton also defeated Broughton Rangers in the final of the Salford Royal Hospital Cup.
Hector also won representative honours. He twice played for Lancashire, with his county debut coming against the New Zealand tourists early in 1927. Then on 4 January 1930, he was drafted into the Great Britain team that faced Australia in the deciding Ashes Test at Station Road, the Lions’ new ground that had opened 10 months earlier under his captaincy.
Hector’s playing career ended with a game versus Widnes on 22 February 1930, at which point his Swinton stats consisted of an impressive 369 appearances, 55 tries and 17 goals. Hector remained in the town for a while longer, and was landlord of the Buckley Arms on Partington Lane between 1929 and 1933.
Hector also had coaching spells at Leigh and more latterly Barrow, whom he led to the 1938 Challenge Cup Final. Hector died in September 1966, at the age of 66.