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

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Cyril Woolford

In the summer of 1956 Rovers picked up wingman Cyril Woolford for the bargain sum of just £400. It turned out to be one the shrewdest transfer market moves the club ever made. Having started his career at Castleford, where he played for six years, Woolford then went to Doncaster where he spent a further three seasons. So by the time he arrived at Featherstone Cyril had a wealth of experience, but there was no doubt that his best years were yet to come. He grabbed two tries on his Featherstone debut against Leeds and never looked back.

For their £400 investment Rovers got whole-hearted endeavour from a player with plenty of speed who was raw-boned and hard to tackle. He was fearless with the ball in hand, but was prepared to put everything into his defence too, with some solid textbook tackling. Over the following five seasons he rarely missed a match. This was a period during which Rovers enjoyed unprecedented success, winning the Yorkshire Cup in 1959 when Cyril, as vice-captain, grabbed one of Rovers’ tries. In the Challenge Cup he could perhaps have cause to rue his luck that he never went to Wembley, losing in the semi-finals of 1958, 1959 and 1960. Whilst Cyril was a fixture on the left flank, there was no shortage of promising local youngsters who played right wing during this time. Dennis Scholes had two good years, Barry Charlesworth was a one-season wonder in 1960, Brian Kinsey played over four seasons without fully establishing himself, and perhaps the most recognisable wing partner of the era was Frank Smith, whose 101 games brought him 52 tries. That classic three-quarter line up of Smith, Ken Greatorex, Jim Hunt and Woolford is fondly remembered by older fans.

Woolford’s efforts brought representative recognition when he won his Yorkshire county cap in 1957 playing, as he occasionally did, at centre. His year by year try tallies were a fair reflection of his consistent approach. In all he managed 88 tries in 185 games for Featherstone Rovers, but without doubt his vintage year was 1959/60 when he broke the club try scoring record which had belonged to Eric Batten. His record of 31 tries that year stood for over thirty years until a phenomenal year from Paul Newlove (albeit at second division level) shattered the record. No player has passed 31 tries since 1992/3.

Cyril’s career came to an end when he retired in the summer of 1961. 25 years later his son Neil followed him into the Rovers first team and played 45 games on the wing in the mid-eighties.

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