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

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Mick Gibbins

Like any front-row forward worth his weight, Mick Gibbins served a long apprenticeship in the reserve team before developing into a rock solid force which held the Featherstone front-row together during a transitional period at the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties. The reward for his labours was to go to Wembley in his benefit season and pick up a Challenge Cup winner’s medal. Gibbins made his debut in September 1971 at Rochdale and in that first season managed seven games as a second rower. Despite just one appearance the following year, he then became a first team regular, still used mainly in the second-row. From 1974/5 he began to play more regularly  as a prop, but even during our Championship-winning year of 1976/77 Mick’s contribution of 31 games was mostly as a second-row forward or off the bench. 

After winning Great Britain Under 24 honours in 1977, Gibbins looked set for a long interrupted run as Rovers number eight but it was around this time that this redoubtable player began to be plagued by a serious back injury. For a player who never took a backward step and relished his tackling duties, it must have been an immensely frustrating time to have to play on through the pain barrier. Once Thompson and Farrar had left, Mick’s front–row partner was often Jeff Townsend, Terry Clawson, Kevin Anderson or Alan Bence. Rovers then signed next week’s featured player Mick Morgan to partner Gibbins. Despite his injury struggles Gibbins won two Yorkshire caps in 1979.

After missing out on the Challenge Cup semi-finals of 1976 and 1978 there can be no doubt that the highlight of Mick’s career was winning at Wembley in 1983, the same year he was granted a testimonial. Of course he turned in another vintage display on the biggest stage. After that, he slipped seamlessly into the role of senior player in the first team: a coach’s dream who never complained, and offered a tremendously high work-rate every week on a consistent basis. In total Mick Gibbins played for Featherstone Rovers for sixteen years, the kind of service and longevity which Rovers fans had become accustomed to seeing from their front-row heroes, but which nevertheless was a phenomenal achievement. He played 333 games, and scored 12 tries. After a disagreement with coach George Pieniazek he left for the Boulevard and played four games for Hull before retiring.

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