Plasterer Steve Tyrer’s Halifax might be huge underdogs in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final with St Helens – but they have the same number of players with winners’ medals.
Runaway Super League leaders Saints have not lifted the trophy since 2008, with skipper James Roby the sole survivor from that team. Roby also played the season before when Catalans Dragons were beaten at Wembley – and Tyrer was 18th man.
The St Helens-born centre was preparing to play until the morning of the game, when Francis Meli recovered from illness to take his place in the side. But Tyrer still got a medal that year, and his part-time team are now aiming for one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history at Bolton this weekend.
Tyrer explained: “I’d played in a few of the rounds before. It was between me and Meli who was going to play and he was ill through the week.
“I was told to prepare as if I was playing but on the Saturday Franny was cleared and it was a bit heartbreaking. That was the closest I ever got to Wembley.”
Tyrer was released by his hometown club after loan spells at Crusaders, Salford and Widnes, before settling on the other side of the Pennines with Fax.
He is now second on the club’s all-time points scoring list after a prolific decade in the Championship, and didn’t think he get another chance to face Saints. But a rollercoaster cup run that has included a desperate win over League One Hunslet, knocking Super League London out and then edging a thrilling quarter-final with local rivals Bradford has changed that.
Now Fax – who are 50/1 outsiders for the game with some bookmakers – are looking to achieve Mission Impossible.
Tyrer admitted: “I just don’t see any weaknesses in their team. We’ve got to be realistic and if Saints turn up with right mindset then it’s simple, we don’t win the game. But if they have a bit of looseness in there or don’t show up, and we play at our absolute maximum then you never know.
“The Saints lads will have been in coffee shops and hot tubs all week while we’ve been grafting but that’s just the way it is.
“I’m hoping my boss gives me half a day on Friday to help, and as a group of players we’re going in preparing to win, there’s no way we’d do anything else.”
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