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

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Gary Price February 2004 to July 2005.

 Rovers decided to make a fresh start at the beginning of 2004 and they appointed a young coach with little experience but plenty of potential.  Gary Price was familiar to Featherstone fans, having played for the club as a second-row forward in two separate spells in the nineties.  He also had experience playing for Wakefield, his hometown club, and in Australia at South Sydney.

Before the season began Rovers lost veterans Nathan Graham and Brendan O’Meara as well as promising youngsters Richard Whiting and Andy Bailey from their 2003 squad, and so Gary Price added a host of new players including Nathan Batty, Richard Blakeway and Matty Wray.  His primary aim was to take Rovers back into play-off rugby having missed out at the end of the previous campaign, which had cost Andy Kelly his job. Results were mixed at first. Some poor displays in the Arriva Trains Cup saw Rovers win just three of their eight fixtures but still qualify for the playoffs where we lost to York for the fourth straight time. Price must have been sick of the sight of York as he struggled to cope with the demands of National League One coaching. The league campaign began with two straight 50 point hammerings at Oldham & Leigh and fans could sense a long season ahead. Slowly Rovers began to find their way, as they recruited Frenchmen Fred Zitter and midfield general Max Greseque. There were casualties too as long serving hooker Richard Chapman left and Paul Darley took over at hooker. Results did improve though and Rovers clinched a playoff spot in 5th. They then won a high scoring thriller at Oldham, pipped Hull KR 19-18 and stood improbably 80 minutes from the grand final with a trip to Whitehaven. It wasn’t to be, the side ran out of energy and ideas in Cumbria, but Price had done enough to suggest the team he was moulding could build on that playoff form.

2005 started in reverse to 2004 with encouraging early results including two very competitive games against title favourite Castleford. Defensive frailties were exposed by Bradford who posted a record club defeat on Rovers and successive 40 point defeats in the league at Hull KR and Whitehaven left question marks over the defence that were never answered. A run of four straight league defeats in June and July cost Gary Price his job after just over a season and a half in charge.  An enormous and embarrassing hammering by Hull KR at home left no-one in doubt as to the struggle that lay ahead to avoid relegation, a battle the club would go on to lose.

Gary Price was a young coach with fresh ideas, not afraid to take bold and unpopular decisions with regard to playing personnel. Inevitably though it is onfield results that count and when too many started to go against Price, he was, like so many of his predecessors down the years,  never going to be given sufficient time to see his project through.

Gary Price’s coaching record:

2004: Won 17 Drew 1 Lost 15
2005: Won 7 Drew 3 Lost 10

Total: Won 24 Drew 4 Lost 26 = 49.06%

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