Pride of place in any fan’s collection purely for sentimental reasons would have to go to the Wembley programmes from our Challenge Cup final successes, reminders of some of our happiest days. In reality, for a collector these programmes are always easy to come by because so many were printed, and therefore cheap to buy. Here we look at the 1967 final when we played today’s opponents Barrow.
The cover design is identical to other finals from 1964 to 1968 and for a shilling (5p) you get a twenty page souvenir produced by the Rugby Football League, although six pages are given to advertising, so in the modern sense, the reading material is a bit thin. The front page of the Cup final issue from that era always had a picture of the Queen on the inside cover. Just for good measure in 1967 we’ve got a portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh too. Of course, her Majesty actually turned out for this final, one of only two finals she’s ever been to. Once she found out Rovers had beaten Leeds in the semi, I’m sure she couldn’t resist the opportunity to meet Mal Dixon and the rest of the lads.
Inside are the Rovers pen pictures, and another peculiarity of the age was the way that players were given their formal full names in their profiles. Hence, Rovers team included Kenneth Greatorex, Michael Smith, Leslie Tonks and Arnold Morgan. However, Jim Thompson and Tom Smales didn’t get the same treatment.
The Featherstone Rovers profile includes the usual praise of our club being a team of local lads full of pride and passion who are always prepared to give youth their chance. One point that irks is the constant references to Rovers as the ‘Colliers’. Now there can be no doubting the long-standing and strong connection between the club and the coal-mining industry, but I’ve never heard any fan of ours ever actually refer to the club as the ‘Colliers’; I always saw it as a nickname imposed from outside.
There’s no ‘shipbuilder’ references in the Barrow article, but their star players are on their Sunday best too; Edward Tees, William Burgess and Gerald Smith.
Towards the back pages a small ad pointed out that the Cup final was Southerners’ only annual opportunity to watch RL, but that in 1967 they could get a second helping as Great Britain were to take on Australia at the White City Stadium in November. You could get tickets for 10 shillings (50p). In the event the international drew a respectable crowd of 17,445, but it was to be some time before London became anything other than solely the Cup final venue for RL fans.