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Featherstone Rovers pre-season series of games has a tasty look to it...with an added dash of poignancy and intrigue as they look forward to taking on newly promoted Hunslet Hawks, a resurgent Oldham, Super League Leeds Rhinos, and Dewsbury Rams at the Bigfellas Stadium.
The Timetable of games is:
Hawks: Boxing Day kick off 11am
Oldham: Saturday 15th January kick off 5.30pm
Rhinos: Sunday 23.1. kick off 3pm
Rams: 29.1 kick off 3pm
The first game of the series against The Hawks is packed with that intrigue, poignancy and interest. It is being played for The Gareth Swift Trophy in memory of the young Rovers player who was killed in a car accident in the summer. The Hawks' side is packed with ex Rovers' players; most of whom are fondly remembered by Rovers fans, including former hooker and now Hawk's stalwart Richard Chapman who is looking forward to re-visiting his former club. He said;
"I can't wait to start playing again. Playing at Rovers in this game, and in the Championship means a lot to me. I have fond memories of Rovers, and I hope their fans feel the same about me. I think there's only Stu Dickens left in the squad from when I was there. What a bloke. It will be a bit special meeting up again. A lot of our lads played for Rovers, and left for different reasons. I'm sure we'll all be given a top welcome because I know all of us gave 100%, when we were there."
Coach Paul March, was caught up in the emotion as well, but his feelings were leavened with the practicalities involved, telling me;
"We've been training for six weeks now. We are fully aware of the challenge that faces us with this step up. This game, against arguably the best team in the competition is just about the ultimate way we can gauge how far we have come. I'm aware of the emotions of this game, a fixture which will continue for the next three years, and know exactly where Chappy and the rest of the ex Rovers lads will be coming from, although I'm certain it will be played in a fine spirit as befits the occasion. I think the fans will be provided with some great entertainment to whet their appetites for what should be an enthralling season."