200 club – No 17 – Chris Charles

29
Apr
Category: Uncategorised

200 club – No 17 – Chris Charles

Born in March 1976, Chris Charles watched some great players for the Robins from the terraces as a boy. Although by 1994 the club had fallen on difficult times, George Fairbairn persuaded him that year to turn down Hull FC to sign as an Academy player for the club he had always supported. It was one of the best pieces of business that Fairbairn conducted.

Charles marked his first team debut as a substitute at home to Sheffield Eagles in April 1994 with a drop goal, and made two more appearances before sharing in his team-mates agony as Rovers were relegated from the old Division 1 at the end of that season. In 1994/95, under new coach Steve Crooks, Charles started to get a regular place after a try-scoring Boxing Day performance at Keighley – initially from the bench, but towards the end of the season, at second row and loose-forward.

In yet another rugby league reorganisation at the end of that season, as part of the move to Super League and summer rugby, Rovers ended up in the third tier of British rugby league for the only time, in the short 1995/96 season. Charles’ opportunities that season were limited by the arrival of former New Zealand international Sam Stewart, but in 1996, he made 20 appearances in the team that won promotion to National League Division 1. Stewart departed at the end of that season, and from the start of the 1997 season, Charles was Rovers regular loose-forward for all but one of the next six seasons.

This period included a Wembley appearance for the one-and-only Challenge Cup Plate final against Hunslet Hawks in 1997. It was an experience that he still regards as one of the highlights of his career – topped by a great performance to annihilate Hunslet Hawks on the day.

But Rovers were in administration by then, and there is no doubt that Charles’ time at the club was one of the most difficult periods in Rovers’ history. The 2000 season was the one in which Rovers emerged from administration, and in that season Charles played most of his football in the second row. In 2001 he returned to loose-forward, and retained that position as club captain in 2002. Charles took his captaincy responsibilities very seriously, and had that season some serious concerns about player welfare issues. Against this background, he could not agree a new contract at Craven Park at the end of the season, and after a short loan spell with Castleford, moved to try his luck in Super League with Salford Red Devils. He played his last game for the Robins in a play-off elimination semi-final defeat at home to Oldham on 15 September 2002, kicking three goals in an 11-19 defeat. In that final season, he kicked 138 goals and scored 15 tries for a total of 336 points.

In all, Chris Charles played in 231 games for Hull Kingston Rovers, kicking 301 goals, three drop-goals and scoring 41 tries for a total of 769 career points, which puts him tenth on Rovers all-time list. He was a very talented all-round loose-forward, but what stood out most was his sheer commitment, consistency and work ethic. He was a man who always gave 100%, and who was described as a model professional. In the opinion of many, including the writer, Rovers have not had a better loose-forward in the years since he left the club.

After four seasons at Salford, during which time he won an England cap, he moved to Castleford, for whom he had a short loan spell at the end of the 2002 season, and helped them gain promotion to Super League in 2007.

Charles, who is a fireman by occupation, continues to live in the area and still follows Rovers’ fortunes.

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