Stand-offs come in all shapes and sizes, and local product Jimmy Williams was your prototype classical stand-off, with good hands for distribution and linking with the three-quarters, a good step for running and an excellent kicking game. He started at Featherstone in 1919 whilst Rovers were still a junior club and comfortably made the step up to the big league in 1921. At stand-off in our first ever senior match Jimmy slotted a drop goal to open the scoring at Odsal and so score Featherstone Rovers first ever points. 95 years and more than 58,000 points later, today’s scorers will always follow in Jimmy’s footsteps. That first year he formed an effective half-back combination with the experienced Joe Kirkham, but his most productive partnership came a couple of years later with Charlie Annable.
Williams’ career highlights undoubtedly both came in
the year 1928. In May he played in the Championship final versus Swinton at
Oldham. In October he played versus Leeds in the Yorkshire Cup final. Both
games were lost, but there was immense pride and satisfaction to be taken from
the fact that a newish club with very modest finances and a team full of local
lads could scale such heights so early in their senior history.
In all, Jimmy Williams played 211 games for Featherstone, scoring 30 tries and kicking 120 goals. Even today, only Joe Mullaney has worn the number six shirt more times than Jimmy. After his benefit match was played in 1929, he left for York before his retirement as a player. His departure together with the later losses of other mainstays of our Championship final team including the Denton brothers and Ernie Barraclough, signalled a sharp decline in the club’s fortunes.
When the RFL were looking to expand the game in 1936 they set up a fledgling club in Newcastle and Jimmy Williams was appointed trainer. The club only lasted two seasons and folded when the backers pulled out.
Jimmy’s younger brother Billy was a decent player in his time and an all-round sportsman and he served Featherstone Rovers as a physio and conditioner from the 1920s right through to the 1960s. Then Billy’s son Jim (named after his uncle) carried on the role through to the 1980s.