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

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Mel Mason

Mick Smith  had been Rovers’ first choice stand-off for five successful seasons when coach Laurie Gant decided to give young Dave Kellett a run at stand-off. Kellett was a quality player who looked a good all-round package, but his promising career was cut short by a knee injury. For his part, Mick Smith switched to the wing to great effect and spent most of the rest of his playing days in the three-quarters. Then Chris Harding signed from Otley Rugby Union and he showed some classy touches without really settling. Rovers then came up with another option as half-back partner for mercurial scrum-half Steve Nash.
Mel Mason with Peter Fox
Melvyn Mason made his debut October 1970 as a teenager at Headingley against Leeds. Rovers were hammered and the young debutant went straight back to the A team. There was to be no doubt as to the absolute class of this youngster though and before the end of that season he had a more extended run in the first team. From that point, Mason developed his game quickly and over the next three seasons, which were some of the most successful in the club’s history, he was first choice stand-off. Quick and elusive, he was capable of breaking the line with his side-step and body-swerve and he also had the handling skills to link with his three-quarter line. 
Playing alongside Nash and behind a formidable pack of forwards, Mason had the platform to show the fans the full range of his silky skills, no better evidenced than in the 1973 Challenge Cup final at Wembley. Nash picked up the Lance Todd Trophy for a superb display, but he was aided by Mason’s constant probings, which cut Bradford up that famous afternoon
Although never a prolific try scorer, he enjoyed his best afternoon in February 1973 with five tries in a match against Bramley. Disappointingly, the following year niggling injuries led to him being interchanged at number six with erstwhile centre and club skipper John Newlove. Although he started 25 games that season Mason missed out on many big fixtures, including the Wembley final, despite having played in the semi-final against Leigh. By the start of the 1974/75 season he was first choice again but when Peter Fox turned definitively to Newlove as his number one stand-off, Mel knew that his Featherstone days were numbered. The first club who came in for his services was Leeds and he signed for them for £6,000 in January 1975.  In total he played 121 games and scored 34 tries for Rovers. 
Within four months Mel had proved his worth once more, winning the prestigious Harry Sunderland medal for a man of the match performance in the 1975 Premiership final for Leeds against St. Helens. Injury interrupted his progress at Headingley and in 1977 he moved to Barrow. His six years at Barrow brought him county honours with Cumbria, and he finished his playing career with a couple of season at Whitehaven.

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