During the difficult 2005 season, young coach Gary Price was struggling to impose his ideas on a side that was losing too many games and slipping down the table. After a run of four straight losses, he left the club, and in came a familiar figure who needed no introduction to Rovers fans. Former star player David Hobbs had first signed for Faetherstone Rovers as a young back-rower in 1978, and had gone on to achieve just about everything in the game, including international caps, a Great Britain tour in 1984 and of course the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 1983.
Hobbs had previously coached at Bradford Northern (as player-coach) and also at Wakefield Trinity in the nineties, as well as having been director of rugby at Halifax BlueSox. With very few games left to play with in 2005 Rovers needed an immediate reversal of fortunes to stave off relegation and that was not to be forthcoming. Hobbs’ first match in charge ended in a heavy defeat at Whitehaven, which was followed by another drubbing at home to Batley, and by the end of the season, Rovers were down to the second division, the first time that the had ever found itself at the third tier of rugby league. In 2006, the intention was to bounce straight back up. However, National League Two proved to be very competitive, and an expected promotion push never materialised. Inconsistent form meant Rovers were never really in the running for the title. Instead Dewsbury and Sheffield went up and Rovers finished fourth in the table. The playoffs finished with a very disappointing home defeat against Swinton.
So it was back to the drawing board for the 2007 season, and after recruiting Field, Handforth, Handford, Kain and Whittle, Hobbs got it right second time. A competitive performance saw us finish runners up in the league to new boys Celtic Crusaders. They went up automatically, but we had to continue our form into the playoffs. To widespread relief, and in scenes of great joy at Headingley, we won the promotion playoff final against Oldham and moved back to National League One.
Once again, the step up proved difficult, and mid-season in our first year back results had not been as favourable as hoped. David Hobbs stepped down, and Reserve team coach Danny Evans took over for the remainder of the season, with assistance from former player Jon Sharp, who was between jobs having lost his position at Huddersfield.
David Hobbs was in charge for a total of 93 games, a figure beaten by only eight other coaches in the history of the club; Peter Fox (304), Harold Moxon (264), Eric Batten (210), Bill Sherwood (204), Laurie Gant (181), Alan Agar (131), Johnny Malpass (123) and now Daryl Powell.