PAUL Johnson, who has just stepped down as co-coach of Hipperholme-based amateur RL club Whitehall Warriors, has been presented with an award by the Pennine Amateur Rugby League.
Committee member for Oldham, Anita Halliwell, presented him with the Division Five Club Person of the Year award at last week’s league dinner at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford,
While both he and fellow veteran Stuart Syme take a back seat, they have handed over to Richard Casanove.
Johnson, 58, began his rugby career at Bradshaw in the under-19s in 1971 and also represented Halifax U19s the same season in a three town tournament which included Huddersfield and Bradford.
Bradshaw folded at the end of the season and he gave up playing for some years until a friend started playing at Halifax RUFC and he went along. He stayed 10 years, three of which he was second team captain and also played some first team games, captaining the side once.
He then ‘retired’ but was persuaded back by former Halifax and Siddal stand-off Mal Burks to play in the workshops for the Museum team that included John Lawless, Jake Burks and Simon Greenwood among others.
He played for two years and ‘retired’ again before spending six years coaching juniors at Siddal, mainly because his son played there, but even after he had left Paul stayed a couple of years but gave up when they struggled to get an U12s team on the field
“In 2005 my son Andrew came home and told me Whitehall were starting a team led by David `Bomber’ Beaumont who I had worked with several years earlier so I went along to keep fit,” said Paul.
“ I found myself playing in the fifth or sixth game against Thornhill Trojans in the Yorkshire Cup and kept on playing as and when needed.
“After the team folded half way in the 2008/9 season I thought that was it, but through the hard work of Alex Scargill they reformed. I was asked to do pre-season until a coach from Bradford appeared to take over!
“He still hasn’t turned up, so I continued for the season with Stuart Syme, as my assistant, until the end of this past season.”
Paul is one of the founder members of the Siddal Masters team.