Featherstone Rovers go into tonight’s clash against Leeds Rhinos with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and confidence.
Jon Sharp’s side finished in the Championship’s top four last year, earning their right to face off against four Super League and the best of the best from their own league. Despite the seven-game league not going too well, the club as a whole will have learnt from the experience and they go to Headingley tonight with almost the same set of players and a playing style which can be easy on the eye.
However, things weren’t as bright just a few years ago. After the departure of their highly successful coach Daryl Powell to Castleford Tigers, the Rovers started 2014 with a bit of uncertainty both on and off the field. John Bastian didn’t have the best time as coach while the arrival of Faisal Nahaboo – and his rather unusual statements – just isn’t worth talking about. Andy Hay steered the Featherstone ship to a Grand Final but were defeated by Leigh Centurions. 2015 saw the Rovers finish outside of the top four but win the Championship Shield against London Broncos. That proved to be a sign of the success which has followed.
Since missing out on the inaugural Qualifiers, Jon Sharp led the Rovers to the top four in 2016 and they look well on their way to doing the same again. With a superb recruitment drive which hasn’t failed as of yet, Featherstone have some Championship stalwarts in their ranks that are helping the club reach the heights many thought weren’t achievable. The LD Nutrition Stadium has been improved recently thanks to the work of volunteers who have supported the club through thick and thin. The money gained through last year’s success has been reinvested into the squad and with the likes of Jason Walton, Keal Carlile, Michael Knowles and Misi Taulapapa all joining the club, it’s easy to see why the team is now a force to be reckoned with in the second tier.
But, as the title says, Featherstone Rovers are on the up and not just the playing side. With in-house match commentaries alongside multi-camera coverage, this part-time team is creating coverage for their fans which is Super League standard to say the least.
Not taking the result of tonight’s match into account, there’s a lot of things to be happy about if you’re a Featherstone Rovers fan right about now.