Broken Arm? No Problem – John Player Trophy
Thirty-six years ago today, on 26 January 1985, Rovers won the John Player Trophy with an impressive performance on a near-frozen Boothferry Park, to beat arch-rivals Hull FC 12-0. Three months before, on the same ground against the same opponents in the Yorkshire Cup final, Rovers had stormed into an early lead but had capitulated badly. This time, there was no let-up.
Rovers again established an early grip on the game. George Fairbairn, who had an uncharacteristic off-day with his kicking, missed a penalty in the second minute, but after 13 minutes Gavin Miller’s brilliantly delayed pass gave Ian Robinson a chance to put David Laws in. Evans knocked the pass down, but Gary Prohm was there to gather the ball and go over. Then, in the 17th minute, Phil Hogan swept through a gap from Miller’s pass and burst through a tackle to score, and it was 8-0 to the Robins.
Rovers controlled the rest of the half, and although they lost some of their sharpness in the second half, they comfortably held onto their lead. Then, with eight minutes to go, Miller’s long pass to Robinson saw him cut inside and pass to the supporting Hogan, who beat three men before looping out a long pass to Garry Clark on the right wing, who went in unopposed. At 12-0, Rovers efficiently closed out the game to bring home the trophy.
Man-of-the-match Paul Harkin controlled the game with his astute passing and tactical kicking. The Rovers pack, brilliantly led by skipper David Watkinson, put in a powerful effort in both attack and defence, and the Airlie Birds, despite the majority of possession, were unable to penetrate some very solid Rovers’ defence.
The large Rovers contingent in the competition-record crowd celebrated as Watkinson lifted the trophy – his first as captain – and coach Roger Millward, who had been unhappy about the decision that the game should go ahead, was justifiably proud of his team’s performance.
The Rovers team on the day was – George Fairbairn; Garry Clark, Ian Robinson, Gary Prohm, David Laws; Mike Smith, Paul Harkin; Mark Broadhurst, David Watkinson, Zook Ema, Chris Burton, Phil Hogan, Gavin Miller. Subs (not used): John Lydiat, Len Casey
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