When Whitehaven came to play Rovers in April 1971 it was the first time the two clubs had met in league fixtures for 12 years. The match programme of the game was a pocket sized edition costing two and a half pence in “new” money, recently changed from 6d in old money. Youngsters, you'll have to ask your grandparents about decimalisation!
With just 12 pages, it represented one of the thinnest reads Rovers had put out, a trend reflected in the programmes of many other clubs in the early 1970s. The truth was this was not the best time for match publications, most clubs putting little effort into production and content. In this particular issue, after listing the teams, the season’s statistics, the fixtures and a number of adverts, there were just two and a half pages of text. Irvin Saxton was the only columnist in the programme. This noted historian had had a statistics page in the Rovers programme for a number of seasons, and in this issue he highlighted how evenly the try scoring of season 1970/71 had been shared between a number of players. John Newlove and Vince Farrar were top of the charts with 12 each and only Dave Hartley (11) had also reached double figures. In the event, Hartley grabbed four tries against Haven to end the season at the top of the charts with 15.
Despite having only 12 pages, there were still four pages of adverts for, among other things, Players Number 6 cigarettes, South Yorkshire Motors Ltd, and you could get a year’s subscription to the Rugby Leaguer newspaper for £1/15 shillings (around £1.75). The inside cover was dedicated to lamenting Rovers league form in 1971 which was not as good as it had been in previous years. Recently appointed new first team coach Peter Fox had only just managed to break a bad run of results which saw the team languishing in 20th position in the league. After a run of eight games without a win, Rovers had won the last three on the trot. This game was played on the 20th of April and as such was the final league game of the season and it came on the back of a good win against Castleford on Easter Monday.
The match itself was quite memorable in that Rovers managed to beat a long standing club record. Their 65-5 win broke the points in a match record which had stood for 7 years. Remarkably, that remained Rovers record score for a full 16 years until we beat Barrow 66-14 in 1987.