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

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Jimmy Williams, Billy Williams and Jimmy Williams Jr.

Any history of our club would begin by mentioning the name of Jimmy Williams on the first page, because in the first minute of our first ever senior match, he was the man to notch Featherstone Rovers’ first ever points. Signed in 1918 when Rovers were a junior club, Jimmy Williams was a stylish stand-off, just coming into his prime as a players when Rovers entered the league. He was a gifted footballer, who occasionally appeared in other back positions, but wherever he played, it was his tactical awareness and kicking ability that stood out. As well as that first minute drop-goal, he went on to score 330 points (30 tries and 120 goals) in 211 senior games between 1921 and 1929. After leaving Featherstone, he was involved with trying to set up a rugby league club in the North-east. In 1934 he was appointed the first coach of Newcastle RLFC, but unfortunately, they lasted only two seasons. Jimmy Williams was also a keen local cricketer.

Billy Williams was Jimmy’s older brother, and although he played some games for the Rovers after joining in 1912, including two appearances in the second-row in Rovers’ inaugural season, it was as team trainer that Billy made his mark. Responsible for getting the lads fit and keeping them fit, Billy Williams was in many ways ahead of his time. In the immediate post-war years when the concept of the modern team coach began to evolve, Billy took the title of club physio, a position he officially held until 1962 when he gave way to his son. In reality Billy never retired, and was always there helping out with his son. There’s a lovely photo of Rovers players from the Championship squad of 1977 with Billy. At his death in 1980, he was still there, 68 years after first having joined the Rovers. Billy was also a renowned boxer in his day.

Billy’s son Jimmy Williams took over from his father as club physio in 1962, and set about emulating his record of service to the club. It’s amazing to think just how many players would have passed through he his hands over the years. With Jimmy looking after the players, Rovers won every honour in the game, including five visits to Wembley. He served in an official capacity until the 1993 season. What an unbelievable record of service to the club between father and son.

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