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

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Testimonials and Benefit Seasons.

Club Captain Liam Finn was recently granted a rugby league testimonial for ten years’ service to the sport. The tradition of the benefit year for players who have given ten years service to a single club really came into force after the war, and as such many loyal servants from the pre-war period missed out on that end-of-career pay day. Before 1945 testimonials seem to have been granted on a very ad hoc basis consisting of just one designated league fixture with a portion of the receipts going to the player concerned. Names such as Jim Denton, Ernie Barraclough, Jack Hirst all put in at least a decade of service each, but there is no documentation of them having received a benefit or testimonial. Some players were luckier.  In 1929 a joint testimonial match was declared for Arthur Haigh and Jimmy Williams. Previously John Willie Higson had a benefit in 1921 and three years later Billy Seymour.

It was quite common in those days for players whose careers had been cut short by injury to receive a testimonial fixture as recompense. Thus Jack Higgins had a benefit played for him in 1946 after a serious injury forced his retirement. The following year a game was arranged for the widow of Wakefield player Frank Townsend who tragically died in a match against Rovers at Post Office Road in 1947.

After the war that fine servant Frank Hemmingway was the first player to qualify for what we would recognise now as a benefit season in 1949/50. A feature of the club in the 1950s was unsurprisingly local lads signing for their hometown team and playing the majority of their career there. Thus, eight different players enjoyed a benefit season during the fifties.

50-1    Walt Tennant
51-2    Jimmy Russell & Jack Blackburn
54-5    Jack Ogden
55-6    Fred Hulme
57-8    Ken Welburn
58-9    Alan Tennant
59-60     Cliff Lambert

The pattern was similar in the 1960s. Again, seven benefits in that decade, including two of Featherstone’s most loyal servants sharing a testimonial year. Surely two such great players deserved separate seasons.

60-1    Willis Fawley
62-3    Jack Fennell
63-4    Don Fox & Joe Mullaney
67-8    Malcolm Dixon
68-9    Ken Greatorex
69-70    Stan Nicholsen

The seventies were a fine decade too. There were just two seasons when no benefit was held.

71-2    Arnie Morgan
72-3    Les Tonks
73-4    Keith Cotton
74-5    Mick Smith
75-6    Vince Farrar
76-7    Jimmy Thompson
77-8    John Newlove
79-80  Harold Box

In the eighties, such was the backlog of players who had played ten seasons, Keith Bell had to wait thirteen years for his benefit.

80-1    Ken Kellett
81-2    Paul Coventry
82-3    Mick Gibbins
83-4    John Marsden
84-5    Keith Bell
85-6    Peter Smith
86-7    Steve Quinn
89-90  Gary Siddall

In the nineties we had just two beneficiaries reflecting the changing times. Freedom of contract and the abolition of the old retain-and-transfer system meant that players started to move around a lot more between clubs.

91-2    Nigel Barker
95-6   Chris Bibb

Since then, that trend has continued although three players have proved themselves loyal clubmen by sticking out ten years.

2002    Danny Evans
2006    Steve Dooler
2007    Stuart Dickens

No comments:

Post a Comment