Just three months in to the 1999 season Kevin Hobbs had quit, and in came a much travelled new coach. Peter Roe had a long history behind him, having previously had success at Barrow, Keighley, Halifax and Swinton. It was to be hoped his experience of getting the best from his players on a limited budget would work at Featherstone where an expensive year in 1998 had ended in failure. Roe had the framework of a good squad to deal with, with plenty of young talent coming through; Jamie Rooney and Jamie Stokes in the backs, and Stuart Dickens, Neil Lowe and Steve Dooler in the forwards. Seasoned professionals such as Hitro Okesene, Richard Slater and Brendon Tuuta added steel to the pack and Roe set about his task.
His first game in charge was a 24-all draw against Dewsbury, but Rovers were soon stringing together an excellent run of results. They won 11 of their remaining 13 league fixtures including an impressive win over Hull KR on the final day of the season to secure 5th spot and a playoff place. An excellent 17-4 win at Leigh in the first round of the playoffs raised hopes which were dashed by losing to eventual champions Hunslet 17-9 in the semi-finals.
In the off-season Rovers lost Okesene, Tuuta retired and Simonds went back to Australia. Recruitment for the following season included Michael Rhodes from Australia, Maea David and Matt Lambert. Roe had certainly found a formula that brought Rovers a very consistent set of results. They managed 20 wins from 28 league fixtures without pulling off any truly spectacular results. Three consecutive big wins as the playoffs approached augured well, but then we lost 32-0 at Oldham. Our final league position was the same 5th spot we had achieved in 1999. In the playoffs Widnes were beaten in the first round in front of the “RL Raw” cameras, before defeat to eventual champions Dewsbury ended our interest. Young talent was now the backbone of the team with 23 tries from winger Jamie Stokes and 331 points from Jamie Rooney at scrum-half. Danny Evans, Stuart Dickens and Neil Lowe led the go forward, with Richard Chapman directing operations.
With no major changes of personnel 2001 had a familiar look about it. A respectable league campaign, a league finish of 5th, twenty-odd tries from Stokes, a sackful of goals from Rooney and a second round playoff defeat to Leigh.
Peter Roe’s good work at Featherstone had not gone unnoticed and at the end of the season Super League club Wakefield made Roe an offer he couldn’t refuse for 2002, and he parted ways with Featherstone on amicable terms. As often happens the move didn’t really work out and Roe was soon back in the national leagues, coaching at Swinton, Barrow and Keighley all for the second time.
Rovers had time to get their choice of coach right for the start of 2002 and gave a first head coach opportunity to Ian Fairhurst after a number of seasons as Roe’s number two.
Peter Roe’s coaching record:
1999: Won 12 Drew 1 Lost 3
2000: Won 22 Drew 1 Lost 9
2001: Won 19 Drew 2 Lost 11
Total: Won 53 Drew 4 Lost 23 = 68.75%