On This Day 24 January
62 years ago, on 24 January 1959, Former Halfax and Great Britain hooker Alvin Ackerley made his Rovers debut in a 16-5 home win over Bramley.
Over the years following WWII, Rovers enjoyed considerable riches in the hooking position, with the likes of Joe Ramsden, Sam Smith, Peter Flanagan and David Watkinson to name just a few. Ranking alongside those was Alvin Ackerley.
Born in Cumbria in 1927, Ackerley made his name with Workington Town after the war, before moving south to be a key member of the fearsome Halifax pack of the 1950s. Although he was by then 30 years of age, it was a shock when the Thrum Hall club allowed Ackerley to leave, following a pay dispute. Signing him for a bargain £750 fee on New Year’s Day 1959 was a huge coup for the Robins. An established international who had captained the great Halifax side in the 1950s, Ackerley had Championship medals and Wembley final appearances to his name.
Squat, broad-shouldered and of powerful build, Ackerley soon made a great impression at Craven Park. A seasoned professional who never gave less than 100%, he was a complete all-round performer in his position. Seldom beaten in the scrums, he was a hard tackler and a constant threat from the acting half position, whose presence in Rovers’ front row commanded respect from all opponents.
Ackerley’s finest hour in a Rovers shirt was when he responded to the club’s pleas to reverse his decision to retire, and turned out against star-studded cup-holders St Helens on 2 December 1961. He was carried off in the first half, only to return a few minutes later, and went on to have an outstanding game, repeatedly slicing through the St Helens’ defence from the acting-half position, and leading his side to a famous 12-5 win.
At the end of that season, Ackerley announced his retirement for good. He made his final appearance for Rovers at Wakefield in April 1962, after playing in exactly 100 matches for the Robins. He was not able to help Rovers to any trophy success in his time at the club, but he did a huge amount to transform the Robins from ‘also-rans’ to serious trophy contenders. He also played a big part in the development of his replacement, the young Peter Flanagan, who was to emulate his achievements at international level.
Sadly, Alvin Ackerley died, aged just 46, in late 1973, and was subsequently inducted into the Halifax ‘Hall of Fame’.
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