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

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.

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