Castleford hooker Bob Spurr (587) had played 323 games over fifteen years during a long career at Wheldon Road before he decided to take up Rovers’ offer of a new challenge aged 32. What Featherstone got was a dependable and likeable team player who won his fair share of ball from the scrum, worked hard on defence and had perfected the art of the ten yard scoot, those dashes from acting halfback which win valuable ground. Bob was a fitness fanatic and it told in his contribution to the team. In his first season he was an ever-present and didn’t miss a match until November 1984. At the end of his first season he won the club’s Player of the Season award.
Spurr was our first hooker after the introduction of the sixth tackle ‘handover’ rule in 1983 which was the beginning of a radical change in the role of the hooker. With many less scrums and against-the-head heels becoming increasingly uncommon, hookers had to adapt to survive. Spurr’s work-rate in the loose guaranteed his value to the team. Over the next three seasons he was challenged for his spot by Tony Staniforth (607) who came to Featherstone from Hunslet Parkside and then by Kiwi import Mark Roiall (611). Neither player could dislodge the evergreen Spurr.
As Bob came to the end of his career in the 1986/7 Rovers had a hooking crisis. It seemed that almost every week the number nine changed. Bob himself played six games that season, A team hooker Tony O’Toole (572) was given the occasional run, wily veteran Keith Bell (509) played a few games too, future club chairman Mark Campbell (618) converted from the second-row for some games, Martin Slater (631) was signed from Castleford but was not the answer and another local youngster Mark Hinchcliffe (639) got a chance. Unsurprisingly, this affected the team’s performance and at the end of the year, Rovers were relegated.
Bob Spurr had a short loan spell at Bradford, and then decided to retire, having played 108 games for Rovers and scoring 14 tries. He had proved to be a dependable and loyal servant, who then did some coaching with the Academy side before seeing both his sons make the grade professionally, Chris Spurr (784) playing 47 games for Rovers.