Good Friday Derby Delight

On This Day... April 9

In 1909, Hull Kingston Rovers beat Hull FC 35-4 at Craven Street in the Good Friday derby, a record victory over their neighbours that stood for 15 years, until a 39-2 win at Craven Park in 1924.

Prolific try-scoring forward Bill Sandham scored two tries, and there were also two apiece for centre Phil Hughes and his winger Fred Barron, whilst skipper Alf ‘Bunker’ Carmichael kicked six goals.

Bill Westerdale played his last Rovers game in a 13-0 home win over Batley on this day in 1932. A stalwart in the forwards over 12 years, Bill’s 365 games for Rovers was a record at the time.

On 9 April 1989, Rovers lost 16-13 to Widnes in front of 7,844 spectators in the very last match at Craven Park, Holderness Road. In a game that was ‘top against bottom’ encounter, a spirited young Rovers side did their utmost to give the old ground the best possible send-off against title-chasing Widnes.

Despite falling behind to a converted Currier try in the seventh minute, and losing skipper Mike Smith in the 12th, Rovers gave as good as they got for most of the game. They slowly gained confidence, and Paul Lyman’s brilliant pass put Mike Fletcher in at the corner after 30 minutes. Seven minutes later, Graeme Hallas gathered Colin Armstrong’s pinpoint up-and-under to score, and Fletcher’s conversion put the Robins 10-6 ahead at the break.

Armstrong dropped a goal two minutes into the second half, and Fletcher’s penalty eight minutes later put Rovers 13-6 ahead. However, despite launching waves of attacks, the Robins could not crack open a desperate Widnes defence to put the game beyond doubt. Widnes though were not champions for nothing, and giant Tongan seconder-rower Koloto powered his way over in the 65th minute. From the kick-off, Tait scored in the corner after a six-man move, to put Widnes 16-13 ahead.

Rovers refused to lie down, but were left to reflect on the lack of penetration that stopped them turning all their efforts into points. Had they played with the same spirit and commitment throughout the season, they would surely have avoided relegation. After 1,264 competitive first team games in 66 years, the players, officials and supporters left the ground for the last time, and twelve months later the old ground was but a memory.

The Rovers team that day was – Andy Thompson; Graeme Hallas, Mike Fletcher Tony Sullivan, Richard Pratt; Mike Smith (sub: John Lydiat), Steve Robinson; Colin Armstrong, Lee Richardson, Malcolm Beall, Asuquo Ema, Des Harrison (sub: Craig O’Brien), Paul Fletcher