Happy Birthday Former Robin Harold Ellerby

Category: The Club

Happy Birthday Former Robin Harold Ellerby

Former Hull Kingston Rovers three-quarter and full-back Harold Ellerby celebrates his 85th birthday today. He is not the oldest surviving Rovers player, but his claim to fame is as the club’s youngest-ever captain.

Ellerby was born in Hull on 23rd November 1935 and joined Rovers junior set-up, working his way up through the ‘A’ team. He still has his original contract from when he signed for Rovers for a £75 fee on 14th April 1953, showing that as a first-teamer he would be entitled to match pay of £4 for a win and £2 for a loss. Six days later, he made a try-scoring first team debut at centre in a home defeat by Bradford Northern in the penultimate match of the 1952/53 season.

After that single appearance, National Service overseas intervened, and Ellerby next played for the first team in 1956/57. By that time, Rovers had Terry Buckle at full-back, a settled three-quarter line in Brian Shaw, Norman Hancock, Brian Coulson and Arthur Garry, and Ellerby had to settle for a place as ‘A’ team captain. On Boxing Day 1956 however, for the home game against Bramley, regular stand off-half Peter Key was missing through injury sustained in the Christmas Day derby. Coulson was moved to half-back replace him, and Ellerby came in at centre. The pair were switched round for the home game with York three days later, but for the visit of Keighley on 2nd January, Ellerby was switched to full-back, where he remained for the rest of the season, despite the team’s indifferent form over that time.

Ellerby must have made a good impression, because when captain Arthur Bedford departed during the close season, he was elected as captain for the 1957/58 season. So, on 17th August 1957, at the age of just 21 years and nine months, Ellerby became the Robins’ youngest appointed captain when he led the side out at Dewsbury for the opening game of the campaign. He marked the occasion with two tries in Rovers 22-14 win. A short spell of injury apart, Ellerby retained his place until Christmas, when despite contributing to a 21-20 win at Castleford on 21st December, he was told by new coach Colin Hutton that he would not be required for the Christmas double-header against York. But Sid Stark was injured in the first game on Christmas Day, and Ellerby got a late call-up to play on the wing in the Boxing Day game at York. Not expecting to be called upon, he had partaken of some Christmas cheer the previous day, and was perhaps not at his best in the game. He was far from alone in that though, as the Robins slumped to a 32-3 defeat, but he did not fit into Hutton’s plans, and it was to be the end of his first team career at Rovers.

In all, Harold Ellerby, Heritage number 564, played 36 first team games for the Robins, scoring three tries, and he retains the distinction of being the youngest man to be appointed Rovers captain. After his last first team appearance he was placed on the transfer list and subsequently moved to Keighley, for whom he made just the one first team appearance in 1959, before being briefly loaned to Doncaster.

But perhaps the best spell of his rugby career came when he returned to amateur rugby in Hull as a key member of the Ambassador side that won the Yorkshire Cup in five seasons in succession in the 1960s. He subsequently remained involved in rugby league, acting as player-coach at Reckitts into his forties. A quiet and unassuming character, Ellerby was a docker by trade, and a gentleman to all who have known him. We wish him a very happy birthday and continued health and happiness.

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