Tributes to Featherstone Rovers’ Jackie Fennell and Gary Waterworth

Jackie Fennell
Jackie Fennell

Featherstone Rovers have paid tribute to two former players who died over the new year.

A minute’s silence was held at the club’s away fixture at Dewsbury Rams in memory of fullback Jackie Fennell and winger Gary Waterworth.

Gary Waterworth

Gary Waterworth

Fennell played in Featherstone’s 1959 Yorkshire Cup Final victory against Hull and made 323 appearances for the club.

During his time at the Rovers, Fennel scored exactly 1,000 points and was only the second player ever, after Jim Denton, to achieve that milestone.

He also held the club record goal tally, at 455, until it was broken by his former teammates Terry Clawson and Don Fox.

Former club secretary Ron Bailey said: “I have seen Fennell agitated on the football field, but never lose his temper. He has been out of touch but never stopped trying.

“He has been one of an outclassed team, but never despaired.

“It always seemed that a Featherstone jersey compelled him to give of his best. His greatest attribute was a virtue common to all outstanding ball players - his timing.

“It had to compensate for a lack of inches, a lack of pounds and a comparative lack of pace against fliers, but it seldom failed to make up for all three.

“How else does he halt the heaviest forward, break through the thickest ruck and stand as a model to all aspiring goal-kickers?

“Nor is it without significance that Fennell won back the first-team position from which he was dislodged.

“Not only did he win it back, but he held it with the characteristics of persistence, courage and modesty which made him such an outstanding club man.”

A hat-trick on Gary Waterworth’s debut at home against Dewsbury on August 30, 1961 sent him on the way to 33 tries in 68 appearances for Rovers.

After converting from rugby union, he gained almost immediate recognition, representing Yorkshire less than two months after his professional debut and earning selection as reserve winger for Great Britain.

His career was cut short by injuries just three seasons into his time with Featherstone, but his impact was clear with Harold Moxon, who coached Rovers to victories against Australia and in a Yorkshire Cup Final, describing him as the fastest finisher he had ever seen at Featherstone.