Jamie Stokes had actually made his debut in 1996 but managed just 17 games in his first three seasons as he was brought along slowly by David Ward and Steve Sims. His first match was off the bench against Whitehaven in July 1996 and he made an immediate impact, grabbing two tries, and showing his trademark speed off the mark and eye for the line that would bring him so many more. He served his apprenticeship in a very good Academy and reserve side that included the likes of Jamie Rooney, Steve Dooler, Stuart Dickens, and Neil Lowe. It wasn’t until 1999 that he finally got an extended run in the side coached by Peter Roe, and Jamie repaid the faith shown in him with quality try scoring, good hands, and an appetite for the hard work of bringing the ball away from acting half-back.
He was a permanent fixture in the first team for the next six seasons, rarely absent through injury, displaying a high level of consistency. His major asset though of course was his pace and he was difficult to catch over any distance. Despite having an array of centre partners, including Martin Law, Richard Newlove, Chris Spurr, Brendon O’Meara, and Fred Zitter, his try tally always remained impressively high. He was the club’s top try scorer in 2000, 2001 and 2003and his season by season totals went 18, 23, 21, 10, 22 and 16. Among numerous long distance tries and hatricks, one outstanding effort against Doncaster in 2003 stands out for me when he scooped the ball up from acting half-back inside his own 25 and then mesmerised the whole Doncaster team with a mazy run before accelerating clear to score.
When he reached 100 tries in his career during the 2003 season, he was at the time the third fastest player ever to reach that number, as it took him just 167 games. Only Martin Pearson and Paul Newlove and then recently Andy Kain have done it faster. Troubled for the first time in his career by a shoulder injury during 2004, this turned out to be his final season and after that he joined Batley. He played a further four seasons at Mount Pleasant before retiring. His Featherstone Rovers career total stood at 117 tries from 197 games, seventh on our all-time list.
Testament to Jamie’s consistency and durability would be a quick look at the number of players who filled the opposite wing during the same 1999 to 2004 time period when he played. Matt Bramald, Ian Thompson, Adrian Flynn, James Ford and Matt Wray all made their mark.