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Title: ... p85 - Roger Millward Memories on The Dodger by East of Hull is Red, Hull

Roger is easily the best player to pull on the famous red and white Hull Kingston Rovers Shirt

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East of Hull is Red, Hull

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28/10/2004

Roger Millward

Position: Half Back.

Time at HKR: Player: 1966-81 Coach: 1977-91.

Previous Clubs: Castleford, Cronulla.

What can be said about Roger that hasn't already been said? There is no question that Roger is easily the best player to pull on the famous red and white Hull Kingston Rovers shirt and possibly the best player to ever wear the Great Britain shirt.

Not only has he been the most successful Rovers player but also the most successful coach in the history of
the club.

Roger first came to prominence when his brilliant, unorthodox playing style (which, would in years to come, earn him the nickname of "Roger the Dodger" by the late TV commentator Eddie Waring) was a feature of a series of televised under 17 international matches where Roger made a number of appearances in both half-back positions and on the wing.

Roger signed professional for Castleford in September 1964, and made his first team debut at Dewsbury on October 3rd the same year.

Unable to command a regular first team place because of Castleford's experienced test half backs, Alan Hardisty and Keith Hepworth, he still came to the attention of the International Selectors before being transferred to
Hull Kingston Rovers on August 8th, 1966 when he was only 18 years old for the sum of £6,000.

He made his debut for the Robins at Hunslet on August 15th, the first of over 400 appearances for the club.
Roger had already established himself on the International stage becoming one of the youngest ever players to make his full Great Britain debut in March 1966 against France and then in the early stages of his career with Rovers, he became one of Rovers youngest international players when he was named in the 1968 GB World Cup Squad after finishing the season as top try scorer with 38 tries, he also picked up the Supporters "Player of the Year" award for his achievements during the season.

Roger had already earned his first major domestic honour when he picked up a Floodlit Trophy winners medal with Castleford in 1965/66. In his first year at Rovers he picked up a Yorkshire Cup winners medal and the following year helped Rovers retain the cup, the first of many honours both as player and coach with Rovers.

In 1969 Roger was appointed club captain at the age of only 21 and in the same year he was named as the Hull KR supporters "Player of the Year" and more importantly the overall Rugby League Players No 6 "Player of
the Year".

Whilst at Craven Park, Rogers international career flourished, he was already a recognised Great Britain player by the age of 22 and went on to make 47 appearances including 29 Tests for Great Britain. Roger
toured with Great Britain five times and once with England and captained both sides in World Cup Competitions.

During the mid-1970's, Roger helped to turn Hull KR into a force to be reckoned with in the world of Rugby League but still the major honours eluded him, as Rovers only managed to pick up a further two Yorkshire
Cup winners medals in 1971/72 and 1974/75 and a runners-up medal in 1975/76.

During this time Roger picked up a further two Supporters "Player of the Year" awards in 1974/75 and 1975/76, his testimonial year with the club in which he broke the clubs all time try scoring record with 160 tries.

During the close season of 1976 he had a spell down under with Australian club Cronulla.

Millward brought his wealth of experience to the Sharks, which was the fourth of six visits he made to Australia during the 1970's. Cronulla under the coaching of John Raper in 1976 were struggling for class players and they secured Millward. He played in 14 games for the Cronulla Sharks, scoring one try and kicking 17 goals for 37 points.

In 1977 a new revolution started for both Roger and Rovers. After the unfortunate death of Rovers coach Harry Poole, Roger was named Hull Kingston Rovers' player-coach and in his first season guided the club to their first ever BBC2 Floodlit Trophy victory and, yet again was named as the Supporters "Player of the Year". The Floodlit trophy proved to be the turning point for Rovers as they went from being the best to proving they where the best by winning every major honour in the game of Rugby League.

In 1978/79 Roger guided Rovers to their first Division One Championship since 1925 and the following year he achieved his ambition by playing in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley becoming the first Rovers player to coach and captain a Rovers side to a Challenge Cup victory as Rovers beat Hull 10-5.

Roger broke his jaw midway through the first half but played on for the full 80 minutes and still managed a smile when he took the trophy from Her Majesty thee Queen Mother.

Roger Millwards long and illustrious playing career ended with an off-the-ball incident whilst playing for Rovers' A team against Batley A on October 4th, 1980. The incident left Roger with a broken jaw at the hands of someone who wasn't even fit to tie his boot laces.

This was Rogers fourth broken jaw in the space of ten months. The game was his come-back after having his jaw broken by Hull hooker Ron Wileman, who crashed into him with a late, high tackle, in th Challenge Cup Final earlier in the same year.

Ironically, after years of striving to achieve his ambition of playing in a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, it was to be his last senior game.

By the end his career Roger had gained 47 international appearances together with 20 tries. 406 Hull KR appearances, 207 tries, 600+ goals and a total of 1825 points making him the third highest points scorer in
Rovers history.

Rogers total of 207 tries for the Robins is a club record, beating the previous best by Gilbert Austin, a winger in the 1920's, by almost 50. Never scoring more than three tries in a match, Roger performed the hat-trick with Rovers on eleven occasions, once for Castleford and twice for Britain on the 1970 tour. Roger twice kicked ten goals or more in a match, both in 1972/73. His best tally was eleven goals in a 58-5 defeat of Hunslet in August, 1972. In the same match he scored three tries for a personal best of 31 points.

After acieving nearly every major honour as a player, Roger continued as coach of Hull Kingston Rovers throughout the 1980's and early 1990's as they dominated the English game upto the mid 1980's.

In 1980/81 he took Rovers back to Wembley for the Challenge Cup Final as they went all the way to try and regain the Trophy but just failed at the final hurdle, Rovers also lost in the final of the Yorkshire Cup that season but it wasn't all doom and gloom as Millward guided Rovers to their Premiership Trophy.

In the next two years Roger couldn't inspire Rovers to a trophy but yet again he took them all the way to the final of the John Player Trophy and guided them to the runners-up spot in Division One, Millward did
pick up an medal himself though when he was named in the Queens new year honours list and Roger received the M.B.E. for his services to Rugby League and sport in Great Britain.

After building up a strong squad throughout the early 80's Roger's leadership shone through in 1983/84 as Rovers proved they where the best in the business by becoming the first team to win the League Championship - Premiership double as Rovers where crowned "Rugby League Team of the Year".

Then the following season they nearly did again. After winning the John Player Trophy for the first time and then becoming Division One Champions for the fifth time only the Premiership remained but it wasn't to be as Rovers lost in the final, earlier in the season Rovers had also lost in the Yorkshire Cup Final.

The 1985/86 season saw Rogers last major final as a Rovers manager.

Millward took Rovers to a victory in the Yorkshire Cup final before they where defeated in the John Player Final and the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, that proved to be Rovers last major final as the team that had dominated the English game faded away, Roger stood loyal with Rovers as the club from Division to Division but after the club was relegated to the 2nd Division Roger decided it was the right time to bring to an end his 25 year association with the club.

Never before and probably never again has their been a player or a coach that has had such an immense talent as Roger and stayed loyal to a club for as long as he did.

When asked about his most memorable match it was not surprising that Roger had more than one. His first not surprisingly was the 1980 Challenge Cup Final victory against Hull FC.

The second was the match against the Australian touring side of 1967 where Roger, at only 20 years of age
scored a great hat-trick as Rovers beat the tourists 27-15.

Roger Millward now lives in Kippax near Leeds, with his wife Carol and is employed as a Premises Manager by Royds Comprehensive School, above Rothwell Sports Centre. At present he has severed his involvement with the game of rugby but he still attends matches, mainly Castleford Tigers.


Appears in the following pages ....P85_Roger MILLWARD
Date of posting ... 10-May-2004
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