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

Saturday, 25 February 2017

John Newlove

John Newlove’s career had started as a very talented three-quarter, alternating between centre and wing with ease. Signed from Ackworth as a teenager, he swiftly made his mark in the first team, and within months of turning professional helped Rovers win a Challenge Cup semi-final against Leigh. He failed to make the team for the 1967 final at Wembley but history shows his time would come. By the time the club got back to the final six years later, John was club skipper and a typically stylish display saw him grab two tries as Rovers romped home against Bradford. He also skippered the side at Wembley the following year as Rovers failed to reproduce their best form against Warrington.

John Newlove, Wembley 1973
It was between those two finals that coach Fox experimented with the possibility of moving Newlove to stand-off. Although he was initially reluctant to adapt to this new role within the team, John grew naturally into the stand-off position, half-back partner to first Peter Banner then Dale Fennell as Rovers became a real power within the game. His intelligence and ability to read the game allowed John to have much more of an influence over the team than was possible at centre, and his eye for a gap and penchant for interceptions became hallmarks of his game.

Although he was a natural leader, John gave up the captaincy in 1975 and handed over the responsibility to Vince Farrar, believing it was negatively affecting his game. When it came to Rovers’ Championship year in 1977, it was a great disappointment that Newlove suffered an injury which kept him out of the side in the run in to securing the title. The following season John then enjoyed a well-earned benefit year, but soon after that he was recruited by a free-spending Hull FC side who were beginning to rebuild. He joined ex-Rovers Charlie Stone, Vince Farrar and Graham Bray at the Boulevard. With Jimmy Thompson and Keith Bridges having left for Bradford, this represented an enormous talent exodus from Post Office Road. It came as little surprise that Rovers were relegated the season Newlove left in 1979.

John Newlove played twelve seasons in the first team at Featherstone covering a mammoth 381 games, 124 of them at stand-off, and the rest as a three-quarter. His 147 tries still makes him Rovers’ second highest try scorer ever after Don Fox. His contribution to the club’s cause was not at an end however, as all three of his sons, Shaun, Paul and Richard all went on to represent Featherstone Rovers. Between them, father and sons, they played 650 games and scored 341 tries. Some record.

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