Hull Kingston Rovers Chairman Neil Hudgell said he was happy with the club’s progress and described 2013 as ‘largely positive’ after the Robins finished their regular Super League season in the final playoff spot.
Craven Park has seen many changes both on and off the field recently as the club continues to reshape itself ahead of next season.
In August Antony Langley (Financial Director), Linton Brown (Director of Commercial Affairs) and Malcolm Scott (Development Director) joined Hudgell, Vice Chairman Rob Crossland, Chief Executive Mike Smith and Football Director Phil Lowe on the board with Colin Hutton remaining as Club President.
It is these three appointments that Hudgell believes puts the club in a stronger position to move forward.
Three weeks later the club announced a new four-year deal with Australia-based sportswear maker FI-TI, who have supplied on and off field apparel for NRL, Super League and A-League clubs as well as Ireland, Italy, Papua New Guinea and Samoa’s World Cup kits and training gear.
Head Coach Craig Sandercock began work on building his squad and had already announced the capture of Neville Costigan (Newcastle), Michael Weyman (St George) and Jamie Langley (Bradford) before awarding academy graduates Josh Guzdek and Connor Robinson with their first professional contracts. Kris Welham, Dave Hodgson, Graeme Horne and riding star Liam Salter all signed new deals as well.
Rovers then secured the services of Canterbury’s young scrum half Kris Keating as a direct replacement for talisman Michael Dobson, who returned to Australia after six years with the east Hull club.
There was more reshuffling behind the scenes as Joe Clutterbrook was promoted to General Manager and Craig Franklin joined as Marketing Manager in early October.
With the announcement that Craven Park would host two World Cup games, the brand new north stand, which will house both home and away supporters next year, was officially handed over in early October and CEO Mike Smith then confirmed that the club had devised a season pass membership scheme with differing benefits and the option to spread the cost of that over a flexible eight-month period.
In what has been labelled a ‘risk free’ move, Rovers signed PNG World Cup players Enoch Maki and Francis Paniu on one-year deals before confirming the signature of Catalan back rower Kevin Larroyer, and Wakefield due Justin Poore and Ben Cockayne, who returns to the club after a two-year stint in west Yorkshire. The club also re-signed Jason Netherton on a year’s deal and he was rightfully awarded a testimonial year after spending ten years with the club. Jonathan Walker also signed to team up with his twin brother, Adam.
Whilst the team started to take shape, Rovers confirmed in mid-November local signature solutions company ‘Design’ as the shirt chest sponsor with another Hull-based firm, AA Jones Electric as the home shorts sponsor while Excel LED’s insignia will be displayed on the away shorts.
In a youth focus shift, Player Performance Manager Pete Grayburn was appointed Head of Youth in place of Martin Dunn who has undertaken the new role of head of the Hull KR Community Trust with Rob Nickolay replacing Pete. And in demonstrating the club’s dedication to youth development, Macauley Hallet and Steven Holker, two more academy graduates signed professional terms for the first time.
At a recent fans’ forum, CEO Mike Smith announced that the board were very happy with season ticket sales, although a figure was not given. The new shirts will also be revealed at the club shop on Sunday 24th November.
Hull Kingston Rovers’ progress over the last six months has been very positive. The squad that Craig Sandercock has put together so far appears stronger than the last and the club are much more settled off the pitch in terms of structure and finance.
The Robin is well and truly rockin’…
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com