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

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Keith Bridges

When Peter Fox took over at first team coach, the battle for supremacy in the number nine shirt was an almighty three-way battle between three very talented players. In typical forthright fashion it didn’t take Fox long to make his mind up. He moved Vince Farrar definitively to prop forward, Dennis Morgan had to be content with A team rugby and later played for Doncaster and Bramley. The all-important ball-winning role went to Keith Bridges. Once established in the team, Bridges began to show his uncanny range of skills and quickly became recognised as fastest striker of the ball in the league. The weight of possession he could offer to his side was worth his place alone, but also good ball-handling skills in the loose and tireless defensive work made Keith Bridges a vital part of any team he played in. He formed a formidable front-row line up, first with Les Tonks and Jimmy Thompson, then Thompson and Vince Farrar. They were the platform on which Rovers built one of their best ever sides. Keith made his Great Britain debut in 1974 on the Lions tour to Australia. It was the first of his three Great Britain caps, but it was a tour shortened by injury in that debut game. He also won seven England caps and appeared in the 1975 World Cup squad alongside Steve Nash and Thompson.

          Keith went to Wembley twice with Featherstone in 1973 and 1974 (and later with Hull, against his home town team). The blatant thuggery that took concussed him in the 74 final was surely a major contribution to our defeat that day. In 1977 he picked up the first of his four championship medals. Within a year Rovers had made a big mistake by selling both Thompson (to Bradford and Farrar (to Hull). That and a year-long injury to Bridges saw Rovers relegated in 1979. The club cashed in and sold Keith to Bradford where he linked up with Fox and Thompson. £23,000 looked like plenty of money at the time but considering what he achieved, it was a giveaway price. Bridges won the Championship with Bradford in 1980 and 1981, and then in 1983 with Hull FC.

At the end of his distinguished Featherstone Rovers career Keith Bridges had played 235 games and scored 44 tries. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

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