Bill Hudson’s coaching reign proved to be short lived, and Rovers played out the 1956/57 season without a coach. That summer the committee looked nearer to home for their next man, and appointed the local cobbler Harold Moxon. Looking at his record, a strong case could be made that Moxon was, quite simply, Featherstone’s best ever coach. He was in charge for six years and 264 games, the longest unbroken spell in Rovers’ history, although Peter Fox coached more over two spells. More importantly, they were six high quality seasons in which the side enjoyed a consistently high league position and unprecedented Cup success. The major mystery which surrounds Moxon’s tenure is how that talented team never made it to Wembley.
Harold Moxon, educated at George Street school, had signed for his local team as a young scrum-half in 1936 and enjoyed ten years as a player at Post Office Road, although military service in the war interrupted his career. The highlight of his playing days was his part in winning the 1940 Yorkshire Cup. After quitting, he turned to refereeing for a short time, before being appointed coach in 1957 at 40 years of age. In his first season in charge, Rovers finished a creditable 8th in the league, up from 15th the previous season. In subsequent years, Rovers came 13th, 5th, 9th, 3rd and 11th. Just to put those efforts into context, the club had previously managed a final league position inside the top ten on just three occasions (in 1928, 1955 and 1956) so this period was undoubtedly a golden age of Featherstone rugby.
Harold Moxon’s first assault on the Challenge Cup was in 1958, and Rovers got to the semi-finals for the third time in the club’s history, only to lose 8-2 to Workington. Semi-final Cup defeats would become a painfully familiar experience for Moxon, as Rovers reached the same stage in 1959, 1960 and 1962. Four semi’s in five years and every one ended in frustration. The one piece of silverware he picked up as coach was the Yorkshire Cup in 1959 after a tight victory over Hull. It remained the last time Rovers ever won that famous old trophy before it was abandoned in 1993. Just eleven days after that success, Rovers beat Australia 23-15 in a stirring tour match. With a playing staff that included the likes of Fennell, Woolford, Mullaney, Fox, Clawson and many others in the prime of their careers, the club commanded respect throughout the whole league. In 1962 Rovers competed for only the second time ever in the Top 4 Championship Playoffs where we were beaten by a mighty Wakefield side 13-8.
Moxon’s coaching career ended in the summer of 1963, with his achievements at the club unparalleled. He was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic coach whose love of the game rubbed off on his players and in the local community too. The quality of junior players who came through the ranks during this period was as high as it had ever been. Harold Moxon clearly built on the solid platform laid by Eric Batten to take the club to a higher level.
Harold Moxon’s coaching record:
57/8: Won 27-Drew 1-Lost 16
58/9: Won 21-Drew 3-Lost 19
59/60: Won 35-Lost 12
60/1: Won 26-Drew 1-Lost 14
61/2: Won 33-Drew 1-Lost 11
62/3: Won 22-Drew 3-Lost 19
Total: Won 164-Drew 9-Lost 91= 63.83%