Death of Featherstone Rovers legend Mullaney

Joe Mullaney scored 85 tries in 319 appearances for Rovers.
Joe Mullaney scored 85 tries in 319 appearances for Rovers.

Former Featherstone Rovers captain Joe Mullaney, who scored 85 tries in 319 appearances for the club in an illustrious 12-year career spanning 1953 to 1965, has died after a long illness at the age of 81.

Stand-off Mullaney became one of Featherstone’s all-time greats after signing for them from Sharlston Rovers in 1953.

He was renowned for his tremendous skill, leadership qualities and sportsmanship.

His half-back partnership with another Rovers legend Don Fox was one of the most successful in the club’s history.

Mullaney made his senior debut for Rovers at Bradford on August 15, 1953.

He was selected for Yorkshire the following year and helped them win the County Championship.

In 1955, he played for England against Other Nationalities and made another Yorkshire appearance against the touring New Zealanders.

He would undoubtedly have made more representative appearances had his career not been blighted by several ill-timed injuries.

Mullaney played in one of Featherstone’s most famous matches in front of club record crowd of 17,531 on March 21, 1959, when scored two tries and kicked a drop goal in a 20-6 victory over St Helens at Post Office Road in the Challenge Cup third round.

It was a repeat of the previous season’s 5-0 third round win over cup favourites St Helens.

Mullaney had the disappointment of being on the losing Rovers side in the 1955, 1958, 1959 and 1960 Challenge Cup semi-finals.

However, he had the joy of leading them to a thrilling 15-14 win over Hull at Headingley in the Yorkshire Cup final on October 31, 1959.

Less than two weeks later on November 11, he led Rovers to a 23-15 victory over the Australian touring team.

It was Featherstone’s first win against the touring Aussies.