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

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Paul Coventry and Jamie Coventry

Paul Coventry
Paul Coventry was a regular fixture in the Rovers three-quarter line throughout the 1970s, Rovers’ most successful decade on the playing field. After making his debut in September 1970, it was a pretty sure bet that in any Rovers line-up you’d find Paul on the wing or at centre. In fact, in his 301 games he played 89 games on the left wing, 92 games at left centre, 41 games at right centre, 47 games on the right wing, 17 at stand-off and 15 off the bench for good measure. This gives you some idea of his versatility. In the 1973 Wembley final, he played on the wing outside Mick Smith, but the following year a broken arm kept him out of a second trip to Wembley. He came back from that and other injuries to play his part in Rovers’ Championship winning season. He enjoyed a benefit during the season 1981/82 awarded for eleven years of service, and left the following year to finish his career at Wakefield Trinity, where he linked up with former team-mate Harold Box. Without ever recording a huge try total in any season (his best season was 14 tries in 1973), he steadily accumulated 86 tries for Featherstone, which leaves him 18th on Rovers all-time try scoring list. Paul of course still serves Rovers nowadays, previously as club chairman, now as stadium co-ordinator.

Paul’s nephew Jamie started his professional career at Wheldon Road, his dad John having played for Castleford in the 70’s. However Jamie moved to Huddersfield and then came to Featherstone without making his mark there. His Rovers debut was on the wing in a big win against Leigh in April 1998. Showing some of his uncle’s versatility, Jamie played that year at full-back, wing, centre and of course was our stand-off in the Premiership final against Wakefield. His partnership with Ty Fallins at half-back during that thrilling run to the final brought the best out of Jamie. Over the next three years he was used as a utility back. After more than 50 starts in the Rovers team he left to join Batley, rejoining Rovers for a spell during the 2002 season, and then again last season at centre, before a nasty jaw injury caused his premature retirement. Jamie Coventry played at total of 76 games for Featherstone (18 off the bench) and scored 12 tries.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Jackie Fennell and Dale Fennell

Jackie Fennell
Jackie Fennell signed for Featherstone in 1952, part of a richly talented group of Sharlston lads. He quickly established himself in the Rovers first team, and after having played most of his junior football at stand-off eventually settled at fullback for Rovers. Although he never won representative honours, Rovers fans knew his worth, and the club came to depend on his solid contributions in both attack and defence. Without being the biggest or fastest player, very few opponents ever seemed to get past Jackie, and his career total of exactly 1,000 points was a testimony to his timely attacks and steady goalkicking. What a fantastic clubman Jackie was, part of that illustrious but unlucky generation of Rovers teams that were so successful in the late 50s and early 60s, but never made it to Wembley. When Gary Cooper was switched to fullback in 1964, Jackie’s career was virtually over, and his last game was against Batley in April 1965. See here:

Dale Fennell
Just over a decade later in August 1975 Jackie’s son Dale made his Rovers debut at scrum-half at St.Helens. He made a promising start, showing some crafty touches, but his opportunities were limited that year up against Peter Banner and Phil Butler. The following season he established himself, and what a season it was. In only his second year Dale emulated his dad by picking up a Championship medal when Rovers took out the title in April. Dale helped himself to eight tries along the way. He was Rovers first choice scrum-half for the next two seasons as the going got progressively tougher because Rovers Championship winning pack was broken up by transfers. Rovers went down in 1979 and Dale lost his place to Terry Hudson. After 96 games in a Rovers shirt Dale left for Wakefield Trinity, later playing also for Bradford Northern. See here:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Graham Harris and Billy Harris

Two front row brothers who went from Featherstone to Wembley.

The Featherstone Rovers front row was a formidable place to try and break into throughout the 1960s and 1970s.When the popular Milan Kosanovic, picked up a back injury at the end of 1966, a ready made replacement was waiting on the doorstep, as always seemed to be the case in those days. Graham Harris signed for Rovers in the summer of 1966 from the same junior side as Jimmy Thompson, and made his debut on December 17th at home to Leeds. When Kosanovic recovered, it was the youngster Harris who won a fierce battle to be Rovers hooker. He played a leading role in Rovers’ Cup quarter and semi-finals, and got the nod for the big day at Wembley. He made the number nine shirt his own for the next two seasons until he picked up a serious injury and along came another promising youngster, Vince Farrar. Graham Harris was a smart hooker, whose main job was to win the ball, but he was also lively and intelligent in the loose. He played a total of 63 games (two off the bench) for Featherstone, scoring nine tries and six drop goals.

In the summer of 1967, Rovers announced the signing of George Harris, Graham’s brother, although he was better known throughout his Rovers career as Billy. He had to wait some years for his first team debut, but after some hard graft in the A team, Billy finally got his chance in September 1972 against Bradford. He played at prop alongside Les Tonks and Keith Bridges following an injury to Vince Farrar. Despite playing 30 games that season, Billy lost out when it came to the Challenge Cup Final. The following season however, he came back stronger, playing 36 games and was rewarded with the number ten jersey at Wembley. Billy was a strong runner and a forceful presence in the pack in the days when scrummaging had a real bearing on the outcome of a game. After playing a total of 93 games (seven as a sub) and scoring 12 tries, his final game was at the end of the 1974/75 season. With the emergence of Mick Gibbins, and the move of Jimmy Thompson to the front row, Rovers didn’t call on the dependable services of Billy Harris again.

Friday, 1 February 2013

David Hobbs and Kevin Hobbs

Two brothers who both became Rovers head coach.

David Hobbs
 David Hobbs will always have a special place in the hearts of all Rovers fans, for those of us old enough (30 years ago folks!) could never possibly forget the 1983 cup-final at Wembley, when David’s two tries played such a big role in our win. Nor should we forget his winning drop goal which was mysteriously disallowed before Steve Quinn settled things. That day he became Featherstone’s third Lance Todd Trophy winner after Carl Dooler and Steve Nash. David started his Featherstone career in 1978 as a strong running centre with a prodigious goal kick on him too. In a short time he was operating in the second row, and his record of 66 tries in 205 games (33 as sub.) is a testimony to what a dangerous wide runner he was. He set a try scoring record for a forward of 21 in 1982, which was subsequently equalled by Peter Smith. Quinn’s presence in the team limited Hobbs’ kicking options, but he still managed 105 and 15 drops. He became Rovers’ 12th GB International in 1984 and toured Australia that summer. He won eight of his twelve caps with us, some of them at prop. David was sold to Oldham at the height of the miners’ strike in 1985 to ease our financial worries. Later in his career at both Oldham and Bradford he was a ball-handling prop, before coaching at Bradford and Wakefield. He then became Rovers head coach in 2006, see here:

Kevin Hobbs
Kevin Hobbs may have only managed a more modest 30 games for Rovers, but was a good servant to both the first and second team around the same time as his brother. Whilst David made his debut against Castleford on Easter Monday 1978, Kevin had made his debut the previous September on the wing against Hunslet. The first time they played together was against Warrington in December 1978. The opening day of the league season  in August 1981 against Castleford was the only time both brothers scored tries in the same game. Kevin went on to become Rovers assistant coach to Steve Sims and later Gary Price, and of course held the top job himself for a short while in 1999. See here:

The family connection doesn’t end there, as David and Kevin’s father Derrick Hobbs served as club secretary at Featherstone for eleven years, taking over from Ron Bailey in 1967 before giving way to Terry Jones in 1978.