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Rhubarb Triangle

Generations who have shivered and been drenched on Post Office Road’s open terraces may not quite believe it, but Featherstone Rovers are confident they will soon have one of the best stadiums outside Super League.

Central to Rovers’ application for a Super League licence for 2015-17 is a ground revamp which will see two redundant stands from defunct Scarborough FC’s Seamer Road installed at the Railway End of Big Fellas Stadium.

Fans gathered on the old

Fev building big time terracing for a final picture ahead of last season’s qualifying semifinal play-off against Leigh and work is now well underway.

The scheme - which includes extending the pitch by 20 metres - received a massive boost when Rovers were awarded a £150,000 grant from the RFL facilities trust.

Featherstone chief executive Craig Poskitt claims the “unique and innovative project” will “vastly improve the experience for supporters of Featherstone Rovers and those of visiting fans” and bring in extra income from nonrugby related functions.

The club - Co-operative Championship league leaders for the last three seasons - plans to hire out their new corporate facilities for conferences and seminars, bringing in seven-daya-week income, all year round.

Rovers’ commercial manager Paul Taylor adds: “Our hospitality facilities on a match day are very good, but there is always room for improvement. Last season, particularly for the Challenge Cup fixtures against Castleford and Wigan and the more popular Championship games, we were struggling for space. The extension of quality hospitality areas will enable us to increase revenue streams further to enable us to grow even more.”

Peter Smith changed. It will be a different one to handle but we are excited about it and ready.

That’s why the camp is so important and we realise in these economic times how lucky we are to be going there for six days. It’s no holiday though and has three benefits. We access a great field to practice on; get lots more done in good weather and spend quality time together as a squad.

We’ve had a hit out too, literally as it turned out, on Boxing Day. It was enjoyable up to the skirmish that saw Justin Poore get sent off and the result was disappointing. But it was a great marker on the physical side and gave us something to review. The new pitch at Headingley was magnificent and a credit to Jason Booth and his ground staff - the fast track will suit Leeds. I picked up a try from the new ‘advantage’ rule. Danny Cowling showed great awareness and we have worked on anticipation. As for the experimental rules, I can see their merits. We have never been afraid to put the best brand on the field for the fans to watch.

Rhinos rule: Brad Singleton takes a tumble as Leeds beat Wakefield on Boxing Day bringing fans and sponsors into - or back to in some cases - the club is easy, once they see that things are being done differently now.

“I have no intention of Cas being an average club, that’s not what I want to be part of,” he adds. “I have been at St Helens and I understand what it takes to be a big club. You don’t have to be based in a massive city to have the best team. There’s a lot of industry around Cas. I am going into big companies and they are all Cas fans. We have got to show them that what we promise, we will deliver and if we do that, they are delighted to help us.

“This is a big club, but it has been allowed to drift. We need to create the right atmosphere and make sure when people come here they have fun. People want to get involved again. The support we’ve had from Cas businesses has been phenomenal and it is getting bigger and bigger.”

The target is 5,000 members by the start of the new season, but Fozzard reveals: “It’s not a case of ‘if we don’t reach that, we are going to go bust’. But we do want to spend up to the salary cap and to spend £1.8million we have to earn enough. Cas people want to support the club and the membership scheme is going really, really well.

“They’d be doing a lot better if we had more people to sell them, but at the moment we don’t have the staff. What we’ve done in a limited amount of time is amazing and I am sure we will be up around the 4,000 mark. To do that in the first year would be a real achievement and then next year we can build on that.”

Fozzard, naturally, has an eye on what is going on just down the road at Wakefield. But he admires rather than fears the progress being made by Tigers’ closest rivals. “They have got people on board with big ideas who want to be successful. It is great to see and we need to turn our club around as well.”

However well Fozzard may be doing, the commercial operation can only really thrive if the side produces the goods on the field. Even Fozzard admits he didn’t enjoy watching Tigers play towards the end of last season, when - amid an exodus of experienced players - they slumped to defeat in their final seven matches and won three of their last 16 league fixtures.

“The pride, commitment and passion wasn’t there,” is Fozzard’s verdict. He admits he understands why fans began to stay away, but insists: “This year I love how the team is looking. We have got a team full of fighters who will roll their sleeves up and have a go every single week.

“Guys like Lee Gilmour, Keith Mason and Jake Webster are all tough players and it’s good to have Michael Shenton - picturedleft- a Cas lad, back at the club. We definitely needed another front-rower and Keith more than fits that bill. He will make sure we don’t get pushed around and I really like some of the footballing ability we’ve got now. Rangi [Chase] on form will be great, especially with Jamie Ellis alongside him. Cas people want to support their club and they don’t mind if the team loses as long as they go down fighting. The team we’ve got now will do that.”

January 2013 Forty-20 27

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