With Rovers in the Second Division for the first time ever and looking to bounce straight back, they naturally turned to an experienced coach with a reputation for guiding sides to promotion. That man was Paul Daley. He had enjoyed a modest playing career as a scrum-half at Hunslet, as well as Bradford, Halifax and Hull KR, and after finishing playing he took over coaching at Hunslet in 1974. They were a club near the foot of Division Two but within three years Daley had steered them to promotion. He then took over at York and took them up too in 1979. Fortunately for Featherstone Rovers, Paul Daley proved himself the man for the job and he secured his third promotion in four season whilst at Post Office Road. It should be pointed out that Rovers had a relatively strong team with a lot of quality players. However, the games still had to be won, and the championship was secured with no drama and with some considerable style, so Rovers were back in the big time.
Unfortunately our return to the first division proved to be a struggle and with the impression that Daley was not getting the best out of a talented bunch of players he was sacked in January 1981. He had been given just five months to prove himself in the top flight, and was quickly replaced by legendary ex-player Vince Farrar. In truth Rovers had not made too bad a start to the campaign and were lying mid-table, but such is the position of coach and a run of defeats in January had cost Daley his job.
Unemployed for just three months, Paul Daley went back to Hunslet where he stayed for four and a half seasons more. He took Hunslet to promotion again in 1984 (his fourth career promotion). Once again he though he failed to keep this newly promoted side in the first division.
The following season 1986/87 with Rovers in trouble again after a poor start to the league campaign, George Pienaizek was sacked and Paul Daley was called in again. It proved to be a mistake as Rovers were relegated. From the outset this seemed to be an odd decision. Rovers needed to appoint a coach to dig the side out of a relegation fight, but chose a man who had a merited reputation as a promotion specialist but had struggled in the top flight. Daley did his best and was unlucky on occasions as Rovers fell just short in important fixtures. In the end though Rovers were relegated for the second time in their history. As it was Paul Daley wasn’t given the opportunity to rectify his mistake and take Rovers back up in 1988. Instead he was sacked for the second time and replaced by Peter Fox in the summer of 1987.
After this disappointment, Paul Daley then moved to Batley and coached there for three seasons completing a very respectable coaching career spanning some sixteen years and four clubs, an admirable record of longevity given the precarious nature of rugby league coaching. At Featherstone he will be remembered as the man who took us up in his first spell but failed to keep us there in his second.
Paul Daley’s coaching record:
79/80: Won 23 Drew 2 Lost 6.
80/81: Won 12 Lost 11.
86/7: Won 7 Lost 16.
TOTAL: Won 42 Drew 2 Lost 33 = 55.84%.