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|Full name||Hull Kingston Rovers|
Rugby Football Club
Kingston upon Hull
|Key people|| Neil Hudgell (Chair)|
Craig Sandercock (Coach)
|Full name||Hull Kingston Rovers|
Rugby Football Club
Kingston upon Hull
|Key people|| Neil Hudgell (Chair)|
Craig Sandercock (Coach)
Hull Kingston Rovers or Hull KR is an English professional rugby league football club based in Hull, England. The club formed in 1882 and currently competes in Super League, having won promotion from National League One in 2006. Hull KR is one of two professional rugby league teams in the city along with Hull FC, who originated from the west side of the city, while Hull KR is based in east side of the city at New Craven Park. The River Hull is usually seen as the divide between the two clubs in the city. Hull KR's nickname is 'The Robins' which originates from their traditional playing colours of red and white.
Hull Kingston Rovers began in 1882 when a group of apprentice boilermakers in the Hessle Road area of Hull came together to start a team, Kingston Amateurs. The club's colours were agreed to be red jerseys with a blue band across the chest, white shorts and red socks. Their first ground was a piece of wasteland in Albert Street, the club started playing in the Hull and District League in the Autumn of 1883. By 1885 Kingston Amateurs had played at three grounds, Albert Street, Anlaby Road and finally Chalk Lane. The club name was also changed to Kingston Rovers as they entered the Times Cup in the 1885/86 season. A number of clubs joined the league and the club entered the new Hull and District Rugby Union Cup, losing to Hull A in the final. The club won its first trophy in the 1887/88 season by winning the Times Cup, beating Selby A in the final. The Rovers moved to their fourth ground, down Hessle Road.
In 1888/89, 6,000 fans turned up to the cup game against Hull A at the Holderness Road ground, which ended as a draw. The Rovers went through the next season losing just two games, defeating Britannia in the Times Cup final.
Rovers beat Hull A for the first time in 1889/90, and moved to their fifth ground, again down Hessle Road. The Red and Whites won the Times Cup for the third year running in 1891/92 beating York A in the final. 1892 saw Rovers play at The Boulevard for the first time and they leased the ground for three years from the following season. Only one away win was recorded this season and six home wins, but Rovers entered the Yorkshire Cup for the first time although they were knocked out by Dewsbury in the second round. In 1893 Rovers played out of The Boulevard, and they lost to Bradford Northern that season in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup. Amos Law, a drop kicker joined the club from Cleckheaton and Huddersfield, while George William Lofthouse played at the age of 14; the youngest ever player to turn out for the senior side.
In 1895 the Northern Football Union was founded, when the leading rugby union sides in the North of England broke away to form a league of their own, comprising 22 clubs. Rovers, then nicknamed "the redbreasts" did not join the new organisation and were instead promoted to the second division of the RFU finishing joint second. They moved to their first ground in East Hull in Craven Street off Holderness Road. In 1896/97, they were denied a place in the first division when several sides resigned but when the West Riding Club dropped out, Rovers moved up.
Hull KR amalgamated their resources with Albany Soccer Club (later to become Hull City A.F.C.). Rovers won the Yorkshire Cup for the first time beating Shipley 11–5 in the final. The club also won the league competition and beat the rest of the league 26–8 in a challenge match. Rovers applied to join the Northern Union and played their first match under the new code in 1897/98.
Rovers were elected into the inaugural Yorkshire Second competition in 1898/99 winning all 17 matches. A club record of 19 consecutive league play-off and cup wins was set in that season with the club subsequently defeating Heckmondwike in a promotion/relegation match to qualify for the Yorkshire Senior Competition. Hull Kingston Rovers were thus admitted into full membership of the Yorkshire Northern Union and finished 6th out of 16 beating Hull 8–2 in the first local derby on 16 September 1899, in front of a 14,000 crowd.
In 1901/02, the top Yorkshire clubs formed their own 'super league' and Rovers played in the Lancashire League finishing 5th out of 13. Hull Kingston Rovers were one of the new teams to join the second division and finished joint second.
In 1904/05, Rovers reached the Challenge Cup final losing 0–6 to Warrington in front of a crowd of 19,638. In the first round on 4 March 1905, Rovers beat Brookland Rovers 73–5 with G.H. 'Tich' West scoring 53 of the points with 11 tries and 10 goals, still a club and world rugby league record. In 1906/07 they reached the final of the Yorkshire Cup only to lose to Bradford Park Avenue 5–8.
In 1908, Rovers gained a memorable 21–16 win over the first touring Australian side. In 1911/12 they finished 3rd out of 27 but lost 10–22 to Huddersfield in the final of the Yorkshire Cup. In 1912/13 Rovers finished 3rd again out of 26 clubs and lost to Wigan in the Championship semi final play-off and finished runners-up in the Yorkshire League Championship.
Leagues were suspended in 1915 due to the First World War. When an official regional league resumed on 18 January 1919, Rovers finished 19th out of 25. In 1920/21, Rovers finished top of the Rugby League but lost 14–16 to Hull in the play-off final at Headingley. They had their revenge in the Yorkshire Cup final beating Hull 2–0 to win their first cup as a professional side.
Rovers then moved to their second ground in East Hull Old Craven Park, behind the tram and bus depot on the eastern end of Holderness Road in 1922. The land cost £18,281 and included 14 tennis courts. They lost their first match at the new ground 0-0-0 to 0–1–3 Wakefield Trinity on 2 September 1922, Albert Rosenfeld scoring Trinity's try. The club finished 4th out of 27 in the league and they won the League Championship Cup beating Huddersfield 15–5. In season 123/4 Gilbert Austin voluntarily ended a run of 190 consecutive appearances when he was selected to play for Yorkshire, which he considered a great honour.
1924/25 saw Rovers finish 2nd in the league, win the League Championship Cup, the Yorkshire League Cup, were semi-finalists in the Yorkshire Cup and runners-up in the Challenge Cup final. In 1925/26 Rovers finished 6th and won the Yorkshire League Championship. In 1926/27 the club finished 6th out of 29 but managed to beat a touring New Zealand side 20–15.
Hull Kingston Rovers sold Craven Park for £10,750 to the Greyhound Racing Company in 1938 due to financial difficulties, securing a 21-year lease to continue playing there.
Leagues were again suspended during the Second World War. When the league resumed in 1945 Rovers finished 18th out of 27. Between 1947 and 1957, Rovers finished between 17th and 29th in the league. Colin Hutton was Hull KR coach from 1957–70. In 1958 the club's fortunes started improving, finishing 18th out of 30. In 1959/60 the club finished 13th out of 30, the first time the club had finished in the top half of the table since 1930/31 – the players shared a bonus of £500 to share.
In 1961/62, the club won 17 successive matches and finished 8th out of 30. In 1962, the league was split into East and West of the Pennines; Huddersfield and Hull Kingston Rovers met at Headingley, Leeds in the first final of the Eastern Division Championship on Saturday 10 November 1962. Reigning champions, Huddersfield were favourites to lift the Eastern Division title, especially as Rovers were missing five first choice players with injuries. The Robins, however, set the early pace and were 10–0 up after 30 minutes. Despite a rally by Huddersfield, Rovers hung on to win 13–10. Rovers win was their first trophy for more than 30 years. In 1962/63 as two division rugby returned, they finished the season tenth out of sixteen in Division 1.
In 1963/64, Rovers reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley for the first time, losing 5–13 to Widnes in front of 84,488 fans. A return to Division One rugby was made in 1964/65 when Rovers finished 8th out of 30. In 1965/66 Rovers finished 12th out of 30. Rovers finished second in 1966/67, their highest place for over 40 years and the Yorkshire Cup was won with a 25–12 victory over Featherstone Rovers.
The club bought Roger Millward from Castleford on 8 August 1966 for the sum of £6,000. Rovers won the Mackeson Trophy for being the top points scorers in the Rugby League. Rovers won the Yorkshire Cup for the second year running in 1967/68, beating Hull 8–7 in the final; the first all-Hull final in 47 years. The club finished third in the league and lost 10–17 to Wakefield Trinity in the play-off final; Rovers were runners-up in the Yorkshire League and beat the Australians 27–15 with Millward scoring a hat-trick.
Johnny Whiteley joined Hull Kingston Rovers as coach in 1970 and stayed until 1972.
In the early 1970s Hull KR purchased a site at Winchester Avenue with the aim of building a new stadium. The plans never came to fruition and the site was later sold to a private developer. The profit made from this land was used to buy back Craven Park with greyhound racing continuing as a subsidiary concern.
New Zealand visited Craven Park on 8 September 1971. The Kiwis, playing their third game in five days, were unable to match the Robins, who beat the Kiwis 12–10.
Rovers won a further two Yorkshire Cup winners medals in 1971/72 and 1974/75. In 1973/74 the club was relegated to Division 2 when they finished 14 out of 16 in Division 1. Rovers gained promotion back to Division 1 the next year and won the Yorkshire Cup for the sixth time beating Wakefield Trinity 16–13 in the final. They also reached the semi-finals of the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, the John Player Trophy and the Premiership Trophy. In 1975/76 the club were runners-up in the Yorkshire Cup losing 11–15 to Leeds.
Coach Harry Poole died in 1976/77, and Millward took over as temporary player-coach and in his first season guided the club to their first ever BBC2 Floodlit Trophy victory as the Robins beat St Helens 26–11. The club finished 4th out of 16 in the league.
Phil Hogan was transferred to Hull KR in 1978 for a then world record fee of £35,000. Rovers topped the league for the first time since 1925. In 1979/80, under coach Roger Millward, Hull KR achieved a famous defeat of neighbours Hull F.C., by a margin of 10–5 in the final of the Challenge Cup, at Wembley in front of 95,000 fans. A makeshift sign was left on the A63 (the major westerly road out of Hull) that read "last one out turn the lights off!" due to most of the city travelling to Wembley for the final. Also, a '10–5' bar is now situated inside Craven Park.
Steve Hubbard scored nine out of the ten points for Rovers. Millward played the full game, despite having his jaw broken early in the game. Earlier in the same season, Rovers had lost in the final of the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy against Hull.
In 1980/81, Millward retired as a player after having his jaw broken for the third time, the club finished 3rd in the league but lost 18–9 to Widnes in the final of the Challenge Cup in front of 94,496. Rovers lost in the final of the Yorkshire Cup 7–8 to Leeds but won the Premiership Trophy beating Hull 11–7. International full back George Fairbairn was signed from Wigan suring the summer of 1981 for a then world record fee of £72.500. In 1981/82 Rovers finished 4th in the league and lost in the final of the John Player Trophy 4–12 against Hull.
In 1982/83 Rovers finished as runners-up in the league. In 1983/84 Rovers were crowned champions of the 1st Division and went on to win the Divisional Premiership beating Castleford 18–10 in the final at Headingley; becoming the first team to win the Championship / Premiership double. In 1984–85 they nearly repeated the feat winning the Division 1 Championship but narrowly missing out in the final of the Premiership. Rovers also won the John Player Trophy beating Hull 12–0 in the final at Boothferry Park but lost 12–29 to Hull in the final of the Yorkshire Cup.
On 25 August 1985, professional rugby league was played for the first time on the Isle of Man. The Charity Shield between Hull Kingston Rovers and Challenge Cup winners Wigan drew a crowd of 4,066 to the Douglas Bowl. The final score was 34–6 to Wigan.
In 1985/86, Millward took Rovers to their sixth win in the Yorkshire Cup before they were defeated in the John Player Final and the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley narrowly losing 15–14 to Castleford. This proved to be Rovers last major final to date, as the team that had part dominated the English game faded away.
By the late 1980s, time had taken its toll on Craven Park stadium, following the Bradford City stadium fire, capacity was restricted and the cost of safety work spiraled. Major renovations were needed to bring it up to scratch. Large amounts of money were spent on the ground each year repairing sections but once one section was repaired another would fall into disrepair. In 1988/89, their last full season at Craven Park, Rovers were relegated to the 2nd Division and Millward decided to stand down as coach. Wright Properties Ltd purchased Craven Park from the club and the final game was played there on 9 April 1989.
A new stadium, New Craven Park, was built on a site off Preston Road. New Craven Park was officially opened on Sunday 24 September 1989 as Rovers beat Trafford Borough 48–8 in front of 8,500 spectators. Rovers started the new era convincingly, and were crowned Second Division champions with promotion back to the top flight.
George Fairbairn was brought in as a player-coach in 1992 for a record fee of £72,500. In 1994/5, Rovers were relegated to the third division despite finishing mid table.
In 1996, the first tier of British rugby league clubs played the inaugural Super League season and changed from a winter to a summer season. When the Super League competition had been proposed, it was suggested Hull Kingston Rovers should merge with Hull F.C. to form 'Humberside' and compete in the Super League. This was resisted but despite finishing top of the Third Division, they were not promoted. As the sport in Britain entered a new era, it would be ten years before Rovers rose again to the top level of the game.
Rovers were again crowned champions of the now renamed Second Division in 1996 and were this time promoted to the First Division. Rovers made some impact in 1997 and finished 8th. Rovers also won the only Challenge Cup Plate beating Hunslet Hawks 60–14 at Wembley.
Rovers finished second in the league in 1998, and came close to a Grand Final spot with a Super League spot at stake. The Robins were expected to go one better in 1999 and topped the table for most of the season before their run ended and the final six games saw them drop from first place to sixth, missing out on a play-off place. Disappointment followed the year after when the Robins finished in seventh place in the league after a mid-season collapse and exited the play-offs in the first round.
Don Robinson took control in 2001 and Gary Wilkinson became head coach. Despite reaching the National Cup final and finishing fourth in the league, Wilkinson made way for the club's first overseas coach, Steve Linnane.
Under Linnane, the Robins came within eighty minutes of their first Grand Final appearance in 2002, after a largely successful end to the season, while the arrival of former player Nick Halafihi as chief executive, boosted the club's off-field activities.
In 2004 the club appointed Mal Reilly as Director of Rugby and Martin Hall as first team coach after Steve Linnane's resignation. But Reilly left the club mid way through the season, while Hall took the club to the play-off semi-final before leaving once the season had finished. Halafihi also left the club.
Harvey Howard was appointed first team coach and Paul Lakin appointed chief executive in late 2004. Howard was dismissed shortly before the Northern Rail Cup Final, which Rovers went on to win 18–16 over Castleford Tigers, with the Robins utilising the temporary player-coaching abilities of James Webster.
Permanently taking over from Howard was the former Toulouse coach, Justin Morgan. October 2005 who saw the club still in the National League, after failing to get past the semi final stage of the NL1 play-offs. Rovers also started a number of ground improvements, including the laying of a new pitch, and widening of the playing surface. They also made some significant signings for the 2006 season.
Up to that time unbeaten in their 2006 fixtures, in early June they were drawn to meet Super League side Warrington Wolves, in the quarter final of the Challenge Cup. It was arguably their biggest fixture for some years. Against all the odds the Robins won, 40–36, their best result in the competition since their 1980 Challenge Cup win against local rivals Hull F.C. This result also created a new club record of 18 consecutive wins. The victory set up a semi final tie against Super League leaders, St Helens.
Rovers also progressed to the final of the Northern Rail Cup for the second successive season, against Leigh Centurions at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool on 16 July. Leigh Centurions won this game 22–18, thus ending Rovers' twenty four match unbeaten run. The club's Challenge Cup campaign also came to an abrupt halt, Rovers gamely succumbing 50–0 to triple-winning St Helens at The Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield.
September 2006 saw Rovers crowned National League One Minor Premier winners, and qualify for an automatic place in the NL1 play-off semi final at Craven Park against Widnes Vikings whom they beat 29–22 to reach the first Grand Final in their history, which they won 29–16, earning a place in the following season's Super League competition.
After close-season signings and an overseas training camp, Rovers made a better than expected start to their first Super League campaign, winning their first two games – Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at home and Huddersfield Giants away. After suffering a reversal to Harlequins RL, they then had an away win (26–16) at Wigan, followed by a hard-fought victory at home to in-form Leeds, to go joint top of the early season table. However, inconsistent form, injuries and the effects of the first Super League sending-off (after 96 games) saw Rovers slip to near the bottom, despite a historic double away win over Wigan, and beating local rivals Hull F.C. at the Millennium Magic weekend. Improved late season results, including the safety-clinching win in the derby against Hull F.C. by the shock margin of 6–42 (played at the KC Stadium), ensured Super League status for another campaign.
Hull KR made significant changes to their squad for the 2008 season, which saw eleven new players brought in and a number of players released or sold. On 2 May the club announced that former captain James Webster had been released from the final six months of his contract due to a three to four-month lay off with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by new signing Michael Dobson, who was formerly a target of Hull F.C. The Canberra Raiders scrum half took squad number 26, and made his début against Harlequins RL on 25 May, scoring two tries. Rovers finished one point away from a play-off place.
2009 saw further consolidation of Hull KR's Super League status with away victores at St Helens, Wigan and Warrington in a seven match winning run, taking Rovers briefly to the top position in the table. A less successful spell followed, due to inconsistency, injuries and international calls, but by mid August 2009 Rovers were fourth in the table, five points clear of the next placed side.
* Announced on 29 November 2013.
|2013 Hull Kingston Rovers squad|
|First team squad||Coaching staff|
Updated: 29 November 2013
|Nat||Name||Signed From||Contract Length||Date|
|Jason Netherton||Unattached||End of Season||June 2013|
|Michael Weyman||St George Illawarra Dragons||2 Years||July 2013|
|Neville Costigan||Newcastle Knights||2 Years||July 2013|
|Kris Keating||Canterbury Bulldogs||3 Years||August 2013|
|Jamie Langley||Bradford Bulls||1 Year||September 2013|
|Enoch Maki||Port Moresby Vipers||? Years||October 2013|
|Francis Paniu||Rabaul Gurias||? Years||October 2013|
|Kevin Larroyer||Catalans Dragons||1 Year Loan||October 2013|
|Justin Poore||Wakefield Wildcats||2 Years||November 2013|
|Ben Cockayne||Wakefield Wildcats||2 Years||November 2013|
|Name||Sold To||Contract Length||Date|
|Michael Dobson||Newcastle Knights||1 Year||June 2013|
|Mickey Paea||Hull FC||2 Years||June 2013|
|Sam Latus||York City Knights||½ Year||July 2013|
|Ryan O'Hara||Lezignan Sangliers||July 2013|
|Richard Beaumont||St Helens||2 Years||August 2013|
|Cory Paterson||Wests Tigers||1 Year||August 2013|
|Lincoln Withers||Australia||September 2013|
|Evarn Tuimavave||Released||TBA||October 2013|
|Alex Brown||Leigh Centurions||1 Year||October 2013|
|Nat||Staff Name||Position||Previous Club|
|Phil Lowe||Football Director|
|Craig Sandercock||Head coach||Newcastle Knights|
|Chris Chester||Assistant Coach||Castleford Tigers|
|Shaun Briscoe||Under 19's Coach||Widnes Vikings|
|Paul Hatton||High Performance Manager|
|William "Billy" Mallinson||Strength & Conditioner||Hull F.C.|
|Ian Kelly||Head Physio|
|Sue Thompson||Player's Welfare|
|Peter Grayburn||Player Performance Manager|
|Martin Dunn||Head of Youth Development||Hull F.C.|
|Alan Fellows||Kit Man|
These players have either; won Challenge Cup, Rugby Football League Championship, Yorkshire Cup, Yorkshire League, played during Super League, have received a Testimonial match, were international representatives before, or after, their time at Hull Kingston Rovers, or are notable outside of rugby league. Figures in (brackets) are total club appearances