Featherstone Rovers - a team at the heart of a community
Featherstone Rovers is not just a rugby club, it plays an important part in the life of the local community.
This was never more apparent than on Friday July 16 when the team set off in the coach on the way to Wembley to take part in the final of the 1895 cup.
A final that was in jeopardy until almost the last minute due to players’ positive Covid tests.
Hundreds of supporters lined the roads out of the town and cheered them on their way.
In fact stand off Nu Brown said in a radio interview the day after winning the trophy that it was one of the highlights of the final.
He said it really hit him how important it was for the town and for the area and what going back to Wembley after an absence of so many years meant to such a lot of people.
Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell has a long history with the club. He played for two seasons in the late 1980s, came on board as an investor in 2007 and took over the chairman’s role in 2010.
The 56-year-old electrical contractor has invested a lot of his time as well as his money in the club over many years
He said: “Initially back in 2006/07 my aim was to get the team promoted out of the third tier and to make the business viable which has enabled the club to establish itself as the next club in line for Super League.
Unfortunately the RFL brought in the franchise model when we were without doubt the best team with four consecutive League Championships and numerous Grand Finals to back that up “When I drive through the town and see so many people of all ages with Featherstone shirts on it makes what we do worthwhile to see the pride in everyone being associated with this remarkable club/town.
“After the miners’ strike of 1984-1985 a lot of mining towns were forgotten about but because Featherstone had its rugby team it kept its identity and its pride.
“We have a fantastic fan base that really get behind the team and we can get up to 3,000 at a home game under normal conditions.
“When we go away from home, percentage-wise I doubt any other team would struggle to match with the number of fans we take away from home with us in proportion to our home gates.
“I’ve seen us go away with 800-900 fans and often have more at the game than the home team do.”
This support, among other things, was one of reasons the club felt they should have got the coveted 12th place in the 2021 Super League when Toronto Wolfpack withdrew: it was eventually awarded to Leigh Centurians.
Mr Campbell said: “It was a big disappointment, but I wasn’t surprised.
“I felt the process was flawed - for the judges to not come out and visit the clubs who were bidding was ridiculous, especially when you consider what was at stake.
“We have a lot to offer Super League. We’ve always had competitive teams here at ‘Fev’ and with the investment that we would have made in the team there’s no doubt we would have upset the odds on many weekends.
“We would have invested and spent the full salary cap, we don’t rely on just the one benefactor. We own our ground and have invested heavily in the stadium which allows us to retain every penny spent at the club.’
The hope is that if the team continue to play well they will be in with a chance to win promotion to the 2022 Super League.
Mr Campbell added: We are unbeaten in the league for two years and are a great team to watch.
“Some of the rugby this year has been outstanding.
“We just need to keep winning and we need to beat Toulouse on Sunday, hopefully in front of a packed house.”