200 Club – No 4 – John ‘Mick’ Eastwood

Category: Heritage

200 Club – No 4 – John ‘Mick’ Eastwood

‘Mick’ Eastwood was born in the Sculcoates area of Hull in April 1911. He signed for Rovers from the old Barnsley United amateur club in East Hull and, after serving his apprenticeship in the ‘A’ team, he made a try-scoring first team debut at home to Halifax on 16 December 1933.

As an amateur, and in the ‘A’ team, Eastwood played mainly his preferred half-back positions, but he made his Rovers first team debut on the wing. Eastwood was an ever-present for the remainder of that season, and after 18 appearances on the wing he was given a chance at off-half for the last six games of the season – five of which Rovers won.

Eastwood kept his place the following season, playing on either wing or at off-half, until being left out after a 26-12 defeat at Boulevard on Christmas Day. He returned at full-back at the start of February, then played at scrum-half the following week, before making a further eight wing appearances in the remainder of the season – totalling 31 games in his first full season. During the following pre-war seasons, Eastwood continued to play mainly on the wing as Rovers were at the time quite well covered at half-back, whilst the three-quarter line was more of a problem. An issue for Eastwood too was that he was an unorthodox and individualistic player, although on the comparatively rare occasions that he played at off-half alongside ‘Scrubber’ Dale, the two formed an effective partnership.

By the end of 1937, Eastwood had played in both centre positions too, so in little over four years, he had represented Rovers in every back position. By the end of the 1938/39 season, centre had become his regular position, although he covered at scrum-half for Naylor in the last match before the war. Eastwood made occasional appearances for Rovers in the War League in 1939/40, and for Leeds the following season, but his war service then took him to a number of overseas postings. He sustained two injuries on active service, fortunately neither too serious, and returned to Rovers in 1945. But in common with many others whose careers were interrupted by the war, Eastwood’s return to rugby was short-lived, and at the age of 34, he made his final appearance for the Robins in a heavy defeat at Wakefield in January 1946.

In all, Mick Eastwood played 208 competitive first team games for Rovers, scoring 65 tries. Competitive and opportunistic, quick off the mark rather than an outright speedster, he was a dangerous attacking player, whilst his cover tackling thwarted a number of opposition attacks. Occasionally, his enthusiasm got the better of him, and there were occasional disciplinary issues. Perhaps like others before and since, his unorthodoxy and versatility counted against him, and he never managed to hold down a regular half-back berth. Nonetheless, his adaptability made him a very valuable asset for Rovers in difficult times.

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