Neil Fox (rugby league)
Neil Fox MBE (born 4 May 1939) is an English former professional rugby league footballer and player-coach who played in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and coached in the 1970s and 1980s. A left-footed goal-kicking three-quarter back, he set rugby league's all-time points record, scoring 6,220 points during his career. The brother of fellow rugby league players, Peter and Don Fox, Neil played for Yorkshire sides such as; Wakefield Trinity (Heritage № 629) (two spells), Bradford Northern (Heritage №) (two spells), Hull Kingston Rovers (Heritage №), York, Bramley and Huddersfield.
|Born||4 May 1939|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||13 st 7 lb (86 kg)|
He grew up supporting Huddersfield, and went on to sign for Wakefield Trinity at 16 years of age. Many believed he would follow in his elder brother Don's footsteps and sign for Featherstone Rovers.
In 1956, Fox became the joint fifth youngest player to make his début for Wakefield Trinity, aged 16 years and 3 months. Fox was selected for Yorkshire County XIII whilst at Wakefield Trinity during the 1958–59 and 1959-60 seasons. Fox played as a left-centre in Wakefield Trinity’s 17–12 victory over Australia in a 1956–57 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France match at Belle Vue, Wakefield on Monday 10 December 1956. Fox scored 2 goals in Wakefield Trinity's 20-24 defeat by Leeds in the 1958–59 Yorkshire Cup Final at Odsal Stadium, Bradford on Saturday 18 October 1958 during the 1958–59 season. He made his international début in 1959, playing for Great Britain.
Fox played left-centre, i.e. number 4, and scored two tries, and 7 goals in Wakefield Trinity's 38-5 victory over Hull FC in the 1959–60 Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London on 14 May 1960 in front of a crowd of 79,773. This was a new record for most points in a Challenge Cup Final. This feat was equalled by Iestyn Harris (1 try and 8 goals) in Leeds Rhinos' victory over the London Broncos in the 1999 Challenge Cup Final. The next week, Fox played as a left-centre in Wakefield Trinity's 3-27 defeat by Wigan in the 1959–60 Championship final at Odsal Stadium on Saturday 21 May 1960.
Fox played centre, and scored two tries and two goals, in the 16-10 victory over Huddersfield in the 1960–61 Yorkshire Cup Final during the 1960–61 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 29 October 1960. The following year, he again played left-centre, i.e. number 4, and scored 5 goals, in the 19-9 victory over Leeds in the 1961–62 Yorkshire Cup Final at Odsal Stadium on Saturday 11 November 1961.
Fox won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in the 1961–62 Challenge Cup Final. He scored a try and kicked 3 drop-goals in the 12-6 victory over Huddersfield at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 12 May 1962, in front of a crowd of 81,263. In 1962, Fox played in his only appearance for England.
Fox played left-centre, i.e. number 4, and scored 3 goals in the 21-9 victory over St. Helens in the 1966-67 Championship Final replay during the 1966–67 season at Station Road, Swinton on Wednesday 10 May 1967, scored a try and 2 goals the 17-10 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers in the Championship Final during the 1967-68 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 4 May 1968. 1968 was the final year Fox played for Yorkshire, having made 17 appearances since his début in 1958.
Off the field, circa-1968, Fox owned a Turf accountant's business in Goldthorpe. He left Wakefield Trinity for the first time in 1969, joining Bradford Northern. In 1969 he played in his final international match for Great Britain.
Fox returned to Wakefield Trinity in 1970, where he moved to loose forward and became the coach. He scored a goal in Wakefield Trinity's 11-22 defeat by Halifax in the 1971–72 Player's No.6 Trophy Final at Odsal Stadium on Saturday 22 January 1972.
He played second row in Wakefield Trinity's 13-16 loss to Hull in the 1974–75 Yorkshire Cup Final at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 26 October 1974. He was substituted during the match, despite scoring 2 goals.
For the 1974-75 season, Fox joined Hull Kingston Rovers. He won the White Rose Trophy as man of the match in Hull KR's 11-15 defeat by Leeds in the 1975–76 Yorkshire Cup on Saturday 15 November 1975. Playing at right second row, Fox scored a try and kicked two goals during the match at Odsal Stadium.
During the 1978–79 season, Fox played as a second-row, and scored 3 goals in Bradford Northern's 18-8 victory over York in the 1978–79 Yorkshire Cup Final at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 28 October 1978. Fox holds the most goals in RFL Yorkshire Cup Finals with 19, and the most points with 53 points. Fox, Alex Murphy and Mark Forster are the only British rugby league footballers to have had two Testimonial matches. Fox's were both at Wakefield Trinity, in 1966 and 1979.
He was player-coach of Huddersfield Underbank Rangers, and achieved a Holliday Cup and promotion double in 1981-82. Fox retired with the record for most points scored in Anglo-Australian test match history until overtaken by Mal Meninga in 1992.
Neil Fox appears to have scored no drop-goals (or field-goals as they are currently known in Australasia) for Wakefield Trinity, but prior to the 1974–75 season all goals, whether; conversions, penalties, or drop-goals, scored 2-points, consequently prior to this date drop-goals were often not explicitly documented, therefore '0' drop-goals may indicate drop-goals not recorded, rather than no drop-goals scored.
In the 1983 Birthday Honours, Fox was made a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to rugby league. Fox was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame in 1989. On 30 August 2005 Fox, along with Billy Boston and Mick Sullivan, opened the Rugby League Heritage Centre.
In 2005 his autobiography was published by London League Publications Ltd.
On Thursday 20 August 2009, at a ceremony at Wheldon Road, the home of Castleford, Fox was named as part of the "Arriva Yorkshire Rugby League Dream Team" and had a bus named after him by Arriva Yorkshire. In 2010 he was awarded the Freedom of the City of Wakefield. The Wakefield Eastern Relief Road, opened in 2017, was named Neil Fox Way in his honour.
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- "Great Britain Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- "Rugby League Hall of Fame - Neil Fox". RLHallofFame.org.uk. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Birth details at freebmd.org.uk". freebmd.org.uk. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- Lindley, John (1960). Dreadnoughts - A HISTORY OF Wakefield Trinity F. C. 1873 - 1960 [Page118]. John Lindley Son & Co Ltd. ISBN n/a
- Briggs, Cyril & Edwards, Barry (12 May 1962). The Rugby League Challenge Cup Competition - Final Tie - Huddersfield v Wakefield Trinity - Match Programme. Wembley Stadium Ltd. ISBN n/a
- "1959-1960 Championship Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- Hoole, Les (2004). Wakefield Trinity RLFC - FIFTY GREAT GAMES. Breedon Books. ISBN 1-85983-429-9
- Gallaway, Jack (2003). Origin: Rugby League's Greatest Contest 1980 - 2002. Australia: University of Queensland Press. pp. 177–78. ISBN 0-7022-3383-8.
- "No. 49375" (PDF). The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1983. p. B13.
- "Arriva Yorkshire Rugby League Dream Team". Arriva Yorkshire. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- Wakefield Council, Council asks residents to name new relief road: Press Release PR 8568, issued 2 June 2017, accessed 6 November 2018