When Bill Sherwood arrived at Post Office Road it was the beginning of a relationship with Featherstone Rovers that covered many years in different capacities, with spells as a player, as a coach and as a committee man. Although born in Castleford, Bill had signed for Bradford Northern as a youngster where he operated mostly at stand-off. However, from the start of his time at Rovers he played at loose forward. The 1930s were tough times for our club, which was still struggling from the retirement of the likes of Jack Hirst and the Denton brothers. Any promising young players coming through were quickly sold to pay the bills. In his role as pack leader and goal kicker, Sherwood had to take on the responsibility of holding the whole team together. It wasn’t until 1937 when Abraham Bullock became president that this sell-sell-sell policy was eased to allow some good players to stay at the club. Within three years, Rovers had tangible success to show for it. It was the highlight of Sherwood’s playing career when Rovers reached the 1940 Yorkshire Cup Final. He kicked three goals as Rovers beat Wakefield 12-9 to claim their first piece of silverware in senior rugby. Bill played on during the difficult war period and his final playing record was 205 games, scoring 571 points from 33 tries and 236 goals. This figure now leaves him 15th on Rovers’ all-time goal list, but at the time when he finished he was second only to Jim Denton.
Bill retired in November 1945, and was offered the job of team trainer. When he took over the responsibility for coaching, the post was very different to today. Featherstone, like many other clubs, had a selection committee, so the team line up was decided in the boardroom, not on the training field. Sherwood’s responsibilities lay with fitness and conditioning and to a certain extent playing tactics, although the players themselves would have a big say in how they organised themselves on the field. Bill Sherwood enjoyed only a 33% success rate as Rovers coach in the immediate post-war years, as Rovers once again struggled to hold onto and develop local players sufficiently to make a competitive team. Indeed, Sherwood was replaced for a season in 1947, but returned the following year when results had not improved. When Rovers went for another coach again in 1951, Bill Sherwood was co-opted onto the committee where he served for a number of years.