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

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Harold Moxon

On the whole the 1930s were dark days for the Rovers, full of struggle for survival in harsh economic times between two world wars, but honest hard-workers such as Allen Ward and Ray Hamer did their best to hold the side together. Early in 1938 the club had the great fortune to pick up another local lad from the Girnhill Lane juniors. He also happened to be the local cobbler. Within two years of his debut, Moxon achieved what no scrum-half at the club had done before, helping Featherstone Rovers to win their first ever silverware as a senior club. In a hard fought Yorkshire Cup final, Moxon was up against the well-respected Herbert Goodfellow, Sharlston born and star of the Wakefield team. Tenacious defence, inspiring teamwork and flashes of ball-handling brilliance, the hallmarks of many famous Rovers victories, brought the Cup to Featherstone for the first of only two such wins in our history. The second time we won it in 1959, Harold Moxon was our coach.

Harold went on to play a total of 112 games for the club in a career which was curtailed first by the war (he missed three years), and then by a broken ankle he got from crashing into the railings surrounding the pitch. He finished playing not long after witnessing at close quarters a serious accident on the field involving Wakefield player Frank Townsend who tragically died hours after the game. Harold was understandably badly affected by the incident and quit playing just weeks later. He was replaced at scrum-half by Jack Higgins, another talented footballer who had started his career in the early 1940’s when Moxon was absent. With Jimmy Russell in the reserves waiting for his chance, Rovers really were blessed with talent at that time.
Of course, Moxon’s contribution to the club ended up going way beyond a stint as the club’s scrum-half. He will be remembered as one of our greatest ever coaches, taking charge of the side from  1957 to 1963. His 264 games in charge was bettered only by Peter Fox, and his winning percentage of 63.83% is the fourth best in the club’s history. It’s a great shame that such consistency and hard work was never rewarded with a visit to Wembley. In six seasons Rovers lost four Challenge Cup semi-finals and one quarter-final. It’s still a mystery how that team never made it to the final.

With his cobbler’s shop that he ran with his brother on George Street, Moxon was part of another long tradition of links between the club’s players and local businesses. The whole story started with ale wholesaler George Johnson setting up Featherstone Rovers in 1902. Later, former wingman Ralph Asquith had a butcher’s shop on Station Lane for many years, as did Joe Hoyle. Another scrum-half Tommy Smales ran the Traveller’s Rest pub for many years and former chairman Bob Jackson had a radio rental shop.

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