Leeds Rhinos nostalgia: All-rounder Schofield was class act at Leeds

Garry Schofield.
Garry Schofield.
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FANS OF Hull FC have never liked Leeds very much, but that dislike went up to a new level in October, 1987, when Garry Schofield finally signed for his home city club.

Leeds paid Hull a world record fee for the Great Britain international, who went on to become the Headingley club’s leading player over a nine-year period leading up to the start of Super League.

Despite being a Leeds lad, Schofield was booed by Hull supporters whenever he returned to the Boulevard throughout the rest of his career.

Born in Hunslet, Schofield began playing with the local Parkside club, was a Great Britain Lions tourist to New Zealand 1983 and joined Hull on his return.

He made his debut at 18 and became the youngest player to top the English game’s try-scoring chart, with 38 touchdowns in his first season as a professional.

He made his first Test appearance the following year, had three summer stints with Aussie club Balmain – and later one at Western Suburbs – and was a Challenge Cup runner-up in 1986.

After Leeds paid £155,000 for his services, Schofield underlined his status as one of the finest poachers in world rugby with a breathtaking interception try in a 1988 Yorkshire Cup final win over Castleford at Elland Road.

Heartbreakingly, that proved to be the only winner’s medal Schofield earned during his Leeds career.

He was a runner-up in the John Player Special Trophy in 1988 and at Wembley in 1994 and 1995, by which time he had evolved from try-scoring centre to creative stand-off, boasting one of the best all-round games in the world.

He remained an instinctive support player, with clever hands and a fine short kicking game.

Those talents were recognised when he was named Man of Steel in 1991.

He was awarded an OBE three years later.

Probably his finest 80 minutes came in 1992 when he captained Great Britain to an epic 33-10 Test win over Australia in Melbourne.

Schofield scored 147 tries in 251 games for Leeds and also earned 46 international caps.

He stunned Leeds fans by leaving the club in 1996, just before Super League kicked-off, to join Huddersfield Giants, where he progressed from player to coach.

He later had spells as a player at Doncaster and Bramley and was briefly coach of Barrow Raiders.

Known to younger fans as an outspoken and controversial pundit, to those who saw him in his prime Schofield will always be remembered as one of Leeds’ finest players of all time.

Matt Parcell.

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