Hull Kingston Rovers

Hull Kingston Rovers

Infobox rugby league team
clubname = Hull Kingston Rovers

fullname = Hull Kingston Rovers Rugby League Football Club
nickname = The Robins
location = Kingston upon Hull
founded = 1882
ground = New Craven Park
capacity = 10,000
chairman = flagicon|England Neil Hudgell
coach = flagicon|Australia Justin Morgan
captain = flagicon|Australia Mick Vella
league = Super League
lastyear = 2007
lastposition = 11th
leaguewins = 5
challengecups = 1
clubchampions =
website =

Hull Kingston Rovers or Hull KR is a British rugby league club playing in Super League (Europe), having won promotion from National League One in 2006. Their ground is New Craven Park in Hull, East Yorkshire. In Super League 2008 Hull KR will play in their traditional colours of white shirts with a red band. Hull KR's nickname is 'The Robins' which comes from their playing colours.cite web | author =Hull Kingston Rovers RLFC | title = Hull Kingston Rovers: Club History - Early 1900’s ... | work = Official Website | publisher = Hull Kingston Rovers RLFC| date = 2008| url =| accessdate =2008-02-26]


19th century

Hull Kingston Rovers began in 1882 when a group of boilermakers in the Hessle Road area of Hull came together to start a team, Kingston Amateurs. The club 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 for the first time in 1889/90, and moved to their fifth ground, again down Hessle Road. In 1892 Rovers played out of the Boulevard. They lost to Bradford in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup.

The Red and Whites won the Times Cup for the third year running in 1891/92 beating York A in the final. Rovers entered the Yorkshire Cup for the first time and they were knocked out by Dewsbury in the second round.

1892 saw Rovers play at the Boulevard and leased the ground for three years from the following season. Only one away win was recorded this season and six home wins, Rovers lost against Bradford in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup.

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 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 a club from the West Riding of Yorkshire dropped out and 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 Yorkshire Second competition replacing Heckmondwike in 1898/99 winning all 17 matches. A club record of 19 consecutive league play-off and cup wins was set in 1899/1900. Hull Kingston Rovers were admitted into full membership of the Yorkshire Northern Union and finished 6th out of 16 beating Hull 8-2 in the first local derby in front of a 14,000 crowd.

Early twentieth century

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 1906/07 they reached the final of the Yorkshire Cup only to lose to Bradford 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 World War one. 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. 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 Craven Park, behind the tram and bus depot on the eastern end of Holderness Road in 1922. They lost their first match at the new ground 3-0 to Wakefield Trinity on 2 September 1922. The club finished 4th out of 27 in the league and they won the League Championship Cup beating Huddersfield 15-5.

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.

In 1929/30 Rovers won the Yorkshire Cup beating Hunslet 13-7 in the final, and finished 6th in the league. In 1933/34 the club lost 4-10 to York in the Yorkshire Cup Final.

Hull Kingston Rovers sold Craven Park to the Greyhound Racing Company in 1930s due to financial difficulties, securing a long term lease to continue playing there.

Post World War II

Leagues were again suspended during World War II. 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. In 1958 the club 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.

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, they achieved this without losing a match. 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. The defeat, due partly to losing legendary Great Britain forward John Taylor to a controversial earlier supension, and to Widnes’s shrewd “Mastermind” tactical plan, which smothered speedy Rovers’ backs such as “The Cornish Express” Graham Paul, was an omen of the “Big Time” to come for Hull KR, as superbly demonstrated by the one time Widnes' cover was beaten by Rovers’ international stand-off half Alan Burwell, who ran from his own half for a fine individual try. It was not long before Rovers were beating the likes of Wigan and St Helens.

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 August 8, 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 club finished third in the league and lost 10-17 to Wakefield 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.

The seventies

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 Wednesday 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 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.

In 1977 a new revolution started for both Millward and Rovers. After the unfortunate death of Rovers coach Harry Poole, Millward was named both Hull Kingston Rovers' and, yet again, the Supporters "Player of the Year". The Floodlit Trophy proved to be the turning point for Rovers as they started out towards winning every major honour in the game of rugby league.

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 £33,000. 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 FC, 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.Fact|date=March 2007

Steve Hubbard scored nine out of the ten points for Rovers and is still a minor sporting celebrity in Hull today. Captain Roger 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.

The eighties and early nineties

In 1980/81, Roger Millward retired as a player after having his jaw broken for the fourth time, the club finished 3rd in the league and 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. 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 as the team that had dominated the English game faded away.

By the late 1980s, time had taken its toll on Craven Park stadium, following the Bradford fire, capacity was restricted and the cost of safety work spiraled. Major renovations were needed to bring it up to scratch. Massive 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 Roger 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.

In 1994/5, Rovers were relegated to the third division despite finishing mid table.

Super League era

When the Super League was formed, it was suggested that Hull Kingston Rovers should merge with Hull FC to form 'Humberside' and compete in the Super League. This was resisted but despite finishing top of the Third Division, they were not promoted.

Rovers were again crowned champions of the now renamed Second Division in 1996 and were this time promoted to the First Division. Rovers made a huge impact in 1997 and finished 8th. Rovers also won the first and only Challenge Cup Plate beating Hunslet Hawks 60-14 at Wembley Stadium. 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 6 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, whilst 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 (see 2005 Northern Rail Cup), 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. Hull Kingston Rovers also made some big 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 FC. 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 the 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 playoff 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 at home and Huddersfield 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 at Hull's KC Stadium by the shock margin of 42-6, 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 local rivals Hull FC. The Canberra Raiders scrum half took squad number 26, and made his debut against Harlequins RL on the 25 May, scoring two tries.

Craven Park Stadium Development

Hull KR have revealed the plans for the transformation that lies ahead for Craven Park Stadium. The club have secured a £7.2 million redevelopment of the ground’s North stand, including more than 2,500 seats, a 470-seater restaurant and fantastic corporate hospitality facilities.

The stand is set to be a multi-purpose facility that will house a business enterprise hub and learning centre, which club bosses hope will have an impact on the regeneration of east Hull.

Former Chief Executive Paul Lakin said: “The proposed redevelopment will provide a facility that east Hull has been crying out for many years. From a club perspective, the new stand will obviously provide fantastic match day facilities, but just as important will be the facilities we can provide to the community every day of the week.

“The development will form an integral part of the economic and social regeneration of this part of the city. We hope the stadium will become a focal point for the area to develop around.”

After submitting planning applications to Hull City Council for another extension to the south east of the ground, the north stand redevelopment and the relocation of temporary seating to the south stand, the club's confidence that the proposed redevelopment will bring the ground up to the standard required by the Rugby Football League for the new franchise system in the Super League was justified. If approved, the capacity will be increased to 12,000 for the 2009 season and further extended to more than 14,000 by 2010.

As developments progress there will be full and detailed information including the proposed drawings of the stadium available on the official club website: []

2008 Squad


Coaching Team

*Round 13 played at Millennium Stadium,Cardiff.

***engage Super League Grand Final to be played at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Notable Former players

* Anthony Sullivan
* Clive Sullivan

* Roger Millward
* David Bishop

* Paul Fletcher
* Phil Hogan

Major honours

*Championship: 1922-23, 1924-25, 1978-79, 1983-84, 1984-85" (5 times)"
*Challenge Cup: 1979-80
*Challenge Cup Plate: 1997
*Yorkshire League: 1924-25, 1925-26, 1966-67 "(3 times)"
*Yorkshire Cup: 1920-21, 1929-30, 1966-67, 1971-72, 1974-75, 1985-86 "(6 times)"
*BBC2 Floodlit Trophy: 1977-78
*National League One Champions: 2006
*Minor Premiership National League One: 2006
*Northern Rail Cup: 2005
*John Player Special Trophy: 1984-85
*Premiership: 1980-81, 1983-84


* [ Hull KR club history]

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ East Hull is Wonderful Fanzine]
* [ Unofficial Hull KR Fans Internet Forum]
* [ Hull KR Junior Robins]

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