Before the turn of the century, it was quite difficult to get a book published, even on a subject as obviously fascinating as Featherstone Rovers. The print runs that publishers demanded before they were prepared to risk publication were so high as to make production infeasible. New printing techniques and the advance of technology changed all that and one forward thinking company that sprung up was Tempus Publishing (now known as The History Press) who specialised in pictorial local histories. They linked up with former Rovers secretary Ron Bailey to produce a number of books, the first of which was this. It was published in 2001, costing £10.99 and has 128 pages. As the title suggests, it’s full of photographs of the club; action shots of matches, portraits of players and team groups. It also scanned programme covers, newspaper cuttings, and even an annual balance sheet too. The photographs themselves come from a wide range of sources, though most would appear to be from the club’s and the author’s own collections. Mr. Bailey provides a short overview as an introduction to each decade, as well as the captions and explanations of all the photographs used.
Readers will have personal favourites from their own particular golden era, mine being Graham Steadman scoring at Old Trafford. Our three Wembley triumphs are covered in detail, many of the shots of Vince Farrar crashing through tacklers to score and Steve Quinn slotting that late penalty will be familiar to many fans. Although the earliest action photographs in the book date from about 1950, the pictures previous to that date give a real flavour of times past. Probably sepia in their original, but re-produced here in black and white, these old photos are perhaps the most evocative in all the book; the 1940 Yorkshire Cup winners, the baby-faced ‘Prince of Centres’, Jack Hirst and the clean-cut Denton brothers.
Ron Bailey was Rovers club secretary from 1955 to 1967 so it is perhaps inevitable that that particular period is covered in more detail than others. However, given that there are so many more photographic sources available these days, the selection of photos for the modern section is a little disappointing.
That said, this book is obviously an indispensable for any Rovers fan who likes to reminisce about the past (older fans) and learn about the club’s past (younger fans). Peter Fox in the trilby, Jimmy Williams and his pipe, president George Johnson, Freddie Miller lining up the goal and Tex Hudson with the Cup are all iconic images of our famous club.