Towards the end of his magnificent career, Cyril Kellett faced a strong challenge for his place from promising youngster Harold Box. By the time Kellett retired, Box was more than ready to take over.
1974 Harold Box.
Harold Box actually made his Rovers debut in early 1970. With Kellett nursing a broken ankle, the first team needed both a replacement full-back and a goal kicker. Box stepped up from the A team, landed six goals on his debut against Keighley and filled in quite ably for the rest of the year. When Kellett came back to fitness, Box had to bide his time, managing 18, then 19 then 12 first team appearances over the next three years, missing out on the 1973 Cup final. Harold’s breakthrough season came the year after, when he played 40 out of 45 games in a very successful year, which culminated with him playing for Rovers at full-back at Wembley against Warrington. He landed three goals, but Rovers lost a disappointing game 24-9.
From then on the number one shirt was his for the rest of the 1970s and he duly picked up a Championship medal in 1977. Although Rovers rapidly changed head coach in this period, the instantly recognisable face of Box remained a constant figure at full-back. A chunky and powerful runner of the ball, he was a committed defender with a neat turn of speed on attack. He was Rovers’ top goal kicker five years out of seven between 1971 and 1978 and his best return was 1973/74 when he landed 92 goals. The arrival of Steve Quinn inevitably limited his chances in that respect.
When Rovers went into the Second Division in 1979 it was time for Box’s testimonial after ten years’ loyal service, which raised a then-record amount. At the end of that season, after winning the Second Division Championship, Harold was transferred to Wakefield Trinity. He had played a grand total of 283 games, kicking 476 goals and scoring 1,123 points, not forgetting a very useful 57 tries. At the time that left him fourth on both our all-time goals list (he now lies 7th) and points list (he now lies 9th). Having qualified through his grandparents, Box also became Featherstone’s first Welsh international, representing his adopted country at the European Championships.
He held off challenges from two promising youngsters for his full-back shirt. One was Graeme Robinson, whose form in the reserves warranted a first team shot. In the end , Robinson left to form part of a new club at Carlisle. A young John Marsden also put in some promising displays at full-back before he eventually settled on the wing. Rovers began the 1980s hoping another young full-back would step up to the challenge.