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

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Charlie Stone

Although Featherstone Rovers have produced a host of great forwards throughout their history, it’s hard to think of a better combination of talents than our Championship winning pack of 1977. The front row of Thompson, Bridges and Farrar could strike fear into any opposition. The back row of Stone, Smith and Bell contained three players who offered the forward drive, exemplary tackling and ball handling skills which made them all capable of playing in the loose forward role. 

Charlie Stone
As the local area is such a hotbed of rugby league, it has been a rare occurrence for Featherstone Rovers to need to raid rugby union for players. Indeed, most of the players at Old Promfetians RUFC (what a name!) would have been pretty familiar with the thirteen–a-side code despite preferring to play Union. It was at this Pontefract based club where young Charlie Stone was playing when Rovers signed him up in October 1970. After three first team games, in which is looked a promising prospect, he promptly returned his signing–on fee to the club and went back to playing rugby union! The following season though he came back to Featherstone, under new coach Peter Fox, and this talented young back-row forward flourished from then on.

Charlie Stone was a big but mobile forward, with a good turn of pace. He could handle the ball well, and relished his eighty minute tackling stints. Little wonder then that he became an integral part of that much vaunted Rovers pack which took Featherstone to Wembley twice and to the top of the rugby league ladder in 1977. Throughout that period, Charlie Stone was a constant figure. In the 1973 final he played loose forward. In the 1974 final, he was substitute forward, coming on for Jimmy Thompson. In our Championship season of 1976/77 he operated mostly at loose forward and the year after, Charlie played more at second-row with Keith Bell at thirteen. 

No sooner had we won the league than that wonderful pack began to disintegrate. Thompson and Bridges went to Bradford and in the summer of 1978 Stone followed Vince Farrar to Hull. Also there was Stone’s brother-in-law John Newlove and later Keith Bridges. Hull FC enjoyed a lot of success using that strong Featherstone connection. Charlie added three more Wembley appearances to his record, by then playing mostly at prop. After losing the 1980 final, he won the Cup with Hull in 1982 but lost again in 1983 in a famous Featherstone victory! He also picked up a Championship medal with Hull that year. During the summer Charlie came back to Featherstone and played one final year under Allan Agar, rolling back the years with some vintage displays at prop forward. After a season at Bradford, again under Peter Fox, he retired in 1985. 
Five Challenge Cup finals, two Championships with different clubs, and numerous other finals in more than a decade of top flight of rugby league, Charlie Stone enjoyed an admirable career. He played a total of 263 games for Featherstone and scored 26 tries.

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