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

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Ivor Lingard

Where could Featherstone Rovers look for a replacement for the incomparable Joe Mullaney in the number six jersey? The very same village that had produced Joe also produced his successor. Sharlston born Ivor Lingard was signed by Rovers in early 1961. Ivor was immediately faced with the same tough task as a number of talented half-backs had faced at Post Office Road since the early 1950s. How could he break into a Rovers team where Don Fox and Joe Mullaney had a mortgage on those all-important positions for years? The answer was slowly, but surely.

Ivor Lingard
Ivor made his debut within three months of signing for Featherstone, getting three matches to show his worth towards the end of the 1961/2 season as Mullaney was rested. He wasn’t the only player with his eye on that coveted stand-off spot. Roy Bell was another talented youngster hoping for a chance. The following year Lingard picked up more and more games as injuries took a toll on Mullaney’s magnificent career. Roy Bell was sold to Wakefield and by April 1962 Ivor was first choice at stand-off partnering Don Fox at half-back and was part of a team that went to within a whisker of Wembley, losing a tight semi-final to Wakefield. As Ivor had replaced Joe at stand-off, so Carl Dooler gradually replaced Don at scrum-half. Thus those two great Sharlston-born half-backs had been finally replaced by two great Sharlston-born half-backs. They seemed set to take Rovers forward throughout the sixties under new coach Johnny Malpass.
However, after three successful seasons, Ivor took the unprecedented step of emigrating to Australia in January 1964. Then, as in modern day rugby, only the biggest names in the British game could hope to make it at the top level in Australia. For example, James Graham, Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and Adrian Morley all made the grade. Plenty more very good British players didn’t make it. Ivor Lingard, some fifty years ago, was an unqualified success. He signed for Parramatta Eels in the NSW Premiership where he spent the rest of his career. In many ways Ivor was ahead of his time as it became very trendy during the 1970s for Aussie clubs to import British talent, with such as Mal Reilly, Tommy Bishop and Mick “Stevo” Stephenson heading out to Sydney.
During his six years in the first team, Ivor was a model of consistency, appearing in 90 games for Parramatta, scoring 20 tries. He was noted down under for his perfect execution of the “Cumberland Throw” tackle, a common enough technique in England, but quite unusual in Australia, the art of using the leg to simultaneously trip and wrestle a bigger opponent to the floor. In 1970 he was an ever present in the first team, playing all 22 games, but by 1972 had retired and started to coach the junior teams at Parramatta. He got as far as head coach for the U23s side in 1975.

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