During the forth week of training underground we trainees were queuing to be ‘rung out of the pit’. There was always an amount of jostling to be among the twelve to get into the first cage. As most were trying to get to the front of the queue I managed to edge my way near the front. A voice directly behind me said, “You get on that cage before me I’ll have you on top”.
I recognised the voice but pretended not to hear him. I was tempted to ‘hang’ back, but there was no way I would lose face in front of all the others who had heard the threat; the person who uttered the threat was Brian Greatorix I had heard that he had signed professional forms for Castleford Rugby League Club as a prop forward and I was slightly in awe of him. Although he was as tall as I and about my weight he looked, to me, ‘rather hard’. I got on the cage, secretly wishing that he would also manage to get on the same cage, he did not, and he was resigned to the second one.
I was already getting washed when Brian entered the showers; I was hoping he had forgotten the incident but no. He uttered in front of everybody within earshot, “I told you what would happen if you got on the cage before me, you’ve got it to have”. I mumbled something but I didn’t feel too confident to say much. The upshot of it all was that most of the course congregated just outside of the pit premises, a ring of people was formed and the fight began.
I tried boxing him and because he obviously had some boxing experience I didn’t feel very successful. He must have tried the same thing with the same result that in the end we both stood toe to toe slugging at each other. My blows on him were full blooded and on target, but his also were the same on me. My punches did not seem to be having any effect on him but his were on me. We seemed to be ‘at it’ for ages when we both seemed to step back before a further onslaught. As we stood back he said something to the effect “You’ve obviously done some of this before”, meaning fighting, I immediately recognised this as, and he was willing to talk.
My answer was “So have you, do you still want to carry on?”
“Call it a draw then,” he offered. I was more than thankful to call it off. My answer was an immediate, “Yes”. I had just had the hardest fight of my life, inside the ring or out and I was relieved to get out of it evens.
The surrounding spectators broke out into spontaneous clapping which in itself was unusual; at least they had enjoyed it. With that we both shook hands and went our separate ways, there was no animosity felt or given. Throughout the rest of our training we had a new found respect for each other. We both bore our black eyes and facial bruises with a little pride for most of the following week.
I grew to like Brian when I got to know him. We became quite good friends. He sometimes joined our group of mates during our evening weekend jaunts round Wakefield.