Monday, 14 January 2013

Freddie Miller

The early 1950s saw a perceptible shift in the history of Featherstone Rovers. In a concerted effort to put the struggles of the 1930s and 40s behind them, the club decided to retain as much talent as possible and build a winning team. In January 1950 Rovers made one of their most significant purchases ever.


1950 Freddie Miller


 In many ways, Freddie Miller was an unlikely looking hero. He was a big man, and at 35 years old had been on the books of Hull FC for seventeen years, the last few of which had been somewhat injury-dogged. He could have been forgiven for coming to Featherstone for a couple of gentle seasons before easing into retirement. Instead, his commanding presence, experience and general aura inspired his team-mates to believe in themselves and the club improved immeasurably in three short years before Miller’s retirement in November 1952. The bald statistics say that he played 92 games for the club, kicked 245 goals and scored two tries, but that would be a woefully inadequate tribute to the impact he had.

 In terms of his playing style, Freddie Miller was a product of his times. Safe under the high ball, his number one weapon was his powerful boot, which he used in kicking duels with the opposition full-back to pen opponents back in their own territory. Ally that to tenacious tackling from a young and keen pack of forwards and that is the blueprint for a defensive structure that served Rovers very well. His ability to turn penalties into points was unrivalled. When he arrived, the Featherstone goals in a season record stood at 55 by Lockwood in 1935, the only time a Rovers kicker had ever landed more than 50. In his first full season Miller clocked 97. In his second 101. He was simply phenomenal.
 
The zenith of Freddie’s career was our Challenge Cup run in 1952. He kicked four goals in an epic quarter final against Wigan, but his semi-final performance on a heavy Headingley pitch against Leigh was masterful. His three precious penalty goals in a try-less game made all the difference and sent Miller, at the grand old age of 37, to his first ever Wembley final. Little wonder the cover of Rovers’ Wembley brochure had a cartoon with “Miller’s Magic Boot” on it. He kicked a couple at Wembley too as Rovers came off second best to Workington.

 After retiring, he suffered from ill health and died at the tragically young age of 45 in 1960, just eight years after hanging up his boots. In a fitting tribute, the club built the Freddie Miller Memorial Gate at the entrance of the stadium for future generations to know the name of one the club’s true legends. 



1 comment:

  1. I've passed through the Freddie Miller gate so many times on match days without having any background information on him. Thanks for this, Mark

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