On This Day: 31.03

31
Mar
Category: Heritage

On This Day: 31.03

On 31 March 1991, an abysmal 62-16 defeat at the hands of Sheffield Eagles in the Don Valley Stadium marked the end of Roger Millward’s 25-year association with Hull Kingston Rovers and the end of Mike Smith’s 15-year playing career at the club. Both men were great players who will for ever be assured of their place in club folklore, and who won every conceivable honour in their time with the Robins.

Roger Millward joined Rovers from Castleford and made his debut for the club as an 18-year old at Hunslet in August 1966. He went on to become the club’s greatest ever player; also taking over as coach on the death of Harry Poole in Match 1977. He remains the club’s most successful ever coach.

Local man Mike Smith progressed through the club’s Colts to make his first team debut at Barrow in March 1975 and went on to become a top-class centre, making an all-time club record 489 appearances, mostly at centre, but also at stand-off and loose-forward.

Amongst the other five players who also played their last games for the club that day were prop Bryan Neibling, who would have to be on any list of the clubs best imports from ‘down under’; hooker Chris Rudd, who spent most of his eight-year Rovers career as understudy to David Watkinson, but who was a very fine player in his own right; and winger Anthony Sullivan, son of Clive, whose last game it was for Rovers before moving on to have a distinguished career with St Helens.

 

Also on 31 March, five years later in the unlikely setting of Bridgend, another Rovers legend, Stanley Gene, made a two-try debut against the ill-fated South Wales club. For the next three and a bit years, Gene entertained the Rovers fans in a bleak era with 95 tries in 111 games before trying his luck in Super League, returning to the club when they achieved promotion in 2007.

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