The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Charlie Annable

When Rovers first joined the Northern Union in 1921 experienced campaigner Joe Kirkham was signed from Dewsbury to fill the vital scrum-half role. It would only be a matter of time however before Rovers began to develop their own talent in this position.

What would you say is the sign of a club’s most popular player in this day and age? Perhaps the number of replica jerseys you can spot amongst the crowd with his name or number on the back? Or the number of times he appears on the front cover of the matchday magazine? Back in the 1920s there was no club shop selling shirts and programmes were no more than flimsy team-sheets, but the fans’ idol would undoubtedly appear on a cigarette card. These stylish and highly collectable cards usually featured one player from every club in a set. Kids would trade and collect them, presumably at the expense of the health of their dads and uncles. Lord only knows how much damage they had to do to their lungs to get the full set. In 1926, Ogden’s cards picked out young scrum-half Charlie Annable in only his third season as a professional as our top player, and therefore cigarette card model. The boyish good looks and the rakish side parting were quite the fashion at the time. The pen portrait on the back of the card reads: “Charlie Annable has demonstrated to his club the value of local talent. He was born at Alverthorpe in Yorkshire, and as a youth he has time for development. He is an unorthodox worker of a scrum, for he is not merely content to get the ball but he kicks to touch to advantage, and at other times bursts round to receive a reverse pass. Though on the small side everything points to his receiving county honours.” Prophetic words indeed as Charlie went on to face the 1929 Australian tourists in Yorkshire’s colours, one of two county caps he won. He was unlucky not to win more representative honours, but at that time Wakefield Trinity had Sharlston-born superstar Jonty Parkin in their ranks.

Having arrived in 1924, Annable quickly set about making the scrum-half role his own for a number of years. In seven seasons in Rovers’ first team he played 196 games, though perhaps his biggest disappointment was breaking his collarbone in November 1927 which kept him out of the side’s marvellous run all the way to the Championship final. Jimmy Rudd filled in at ably scrum-half while Charlie was on the sidelines.

As so often happened throughout the club’s history there came a time when the committee felt they had to cash in on their talent and Annable was sold to Castleford for £400 in 1931. It was left to Wilf Evans and William Hayes to fill in the number seven shirt,  before the emergence in the mid 1930s of Allen Ward.

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