Player Profile: Elliott Whitehead

Elliott Whitehead

Date of Birth: 04/09/1989
Position: Second Row
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 15st 3.84lb

Elliott Whitehead was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire.  He began playing in the amateur game for West Bowling Juniors and worked as an electrician alongside his rugby.  In 2008 he was called up to the England Academy Touring Team to Australia.  He couldn’t get the time off work to play in the tour, so he quit his electrician’s job to pursue his rugby career.

His decision to take up rugby full-time did pay off – his performance in the tour, teamed with his exemplary attitude in the Bulls Academy in 2009 (He won the award for Players’ Player of the Year) had earned him a first grade football debut by June 2009.  He came on as a sub against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in a 36-22 victory.  He went on to play 7 Super League matches that season and scored his first try against Celtic Crusaders – it was only his 2nd start for the Bulls in his favoured Second Row position.  Bradford won the away tie 34-12.

2010 was even better for Elliott, as he featured in all but one of Bradford’s Super League matches.  19 of those appearances were from starting Second Row positions too.  Between the age of 20 and 21, Whitehead had already cemented a place in Bradford’s first grade squad.  He scored 8 tries in the league that season and was tipped as one of the most exciting prospects in the English rugby league.

He also played a part in the 2010 Challenge Cup – he scored a try in Bradford’s victory over Dewsbury Rams and went on to play in the following two games of the competition (The Bulls were knocked out in the quarter-final by Warrington, in a tightly contested 26-22 defeat).

Despite Bradford’s disappointing 2010 campaign, Whitehead had a great year on a personal level.  He also signed a three year contract extension at the end of the season, committing him to his local side until 2013.  The only shadow on Elliott’s record came in round 22 of the season, when he received a formal caution for stamping on the hand of Salford’s Luke Adamson in the 61st minute of the game.

Club History: Hull FC

Hull FC was created in 1865 by a group of ex-schoolboys from York.  The boys used to meet at Young Men’s Fellowship at St. Mary’s Church in Lowgate, where the vicar and his five sons were also involved.  The club initially took on local tradesmen and when they merged with another club (Hull White Star) the club was recognised as a big enough club to be a founding member of the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, which effectively made Hull FC one of the first ever 20 rugby league teams.

The club gradually became a big name in the world of rugby and by 1908 was competing in its first Challenge Cup final.  Unfortunately, Hull lost the final and went on to consecutively lose in the next two seasons as well.  In 1913 the club lost another final (Yorkshire Cup) and it almost seemed as if the club was cursed.  However in 1914, Hull reached their fourth Challenge Cup final in six years and marked the occasion with a well overdue victory.

With one major trophy to their name, the team that was once just a vicar, a couple of schoolboys and a few plumbers were making leaps and bounds come the First World War.  After the cease fire, Hull FC won their first Championship in the 1919-20 season.

For once, Hull were going into a Challenge Cup final as favourites in 1921, this time it was against their local rivals Hull Kingston Rovers.  It was the club’s fifth participation in a Challenge Cup final and was their fourth loss.  Ironically, they faced Hull KR again in the Championship Grand Final and this time -triumphed.  With back-to-back Championships come the end of 1921, Hull FC were finally being recognised as a major force in the game, despite their unlucky reputation in cup finals.

It would be over a decade before the club was honoured with any more silverware when Hull won their third Championship in 1936.  Hull FC lost four more Yorkshire Cup finals before they lifted another trophy in 1956, which was yet another Championship.  The club now had a reputation for winning leagues and losing cup finals.

The following year (1957), Hull FC were crowned European Club Champions.  They bagged another Championship in ’58 and managed to shrug off their Challenge Cup demons in 1959 and 1960.

The club had a knack of finding its way to major Cup Finals and topping up their trophy cabinet with a few league titles along the way.  The second part of that ‘knack’ filtered away after 1958 though and for the next 20 years the club was either losing finals or tumbling down the Championship ladder.

Coming out of the 70’s with top fight status again, the club managed a championship win in 1983 – on the back of a Challenge Cup victory in ‘82.  They won the John Player Trophy in 1982 as well and the 80’s was more than just a reintroduction to top tier rugby, it was a brief but prosperous period for the club.  They won the first ever BBC2 Floodlit Trophy in 1980 before going on to eat up three Yorkshire Cups throughout the decade and they seemed to be back on track going into the 90’s.

Hull won the Premiership in 1991 but soon slipped back into losing ways at the most unfortunate time: The Super League had just been introduced in 1996 and by finishing 10th in the preliminary season, Hull FC didn’t qualify for a place.  The club changed their name to the Hull Sharks for this new era in rugby league and when they bounced back in 1997 under Phil Sigsworth with w Division One title, the Sharks were granted a place among the top European clubs in the Super League.

When financial misfortune struck the club in 1999, Gateshead Thunder came to the rescue and took over the club.  They went back to using the traditional Hull FC brand and fully committed themselves to the cause with many players moving to Hull and Gateshead Thunder itself moving their home games to The Boulevard.

The club finally said farewell to The Boulevard in 2003 after 107 years playing there.  They moved to the KC Stadium, sharing the ground with the local football side.

The major highlight of the noughties came in 2005 when Hull FC defeated Leeds Rhinos in the challenge cup final at the Millennium Stadium.  There was a chance of even more celebrations in 2006 when the club reached their first ever super league grand final, St Helen’s killed the party mood however with a demoralising 26-4 victory.

Despite reaching the play-offs a couple of times in those post millennium Super League years, the club failed to capitalise on their opportunities and that Challenge Cup final back in 2005 was the only real positive to come out of the decade after the £44 million pound ground move of course.

Club Honours

Six time Championship Winners (1919–20, 1920–21, 1935–36, 1955–56, 1957–58, 1982–83)
Premiership Winners (1990–91)
Three time Division Two Championship Winners (1976–77, 1978–79, 1996–97)
Three time Challenge Cup Winners (1913–14, 1981–82, 2004–05)
John Player Trophy Winners (1981–82)
BBC2 Floodlit Trophy Winners (1979–80)
Five time Yorkshire Cup Winners (1923–24, 1969–70, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85)
Four Time Yorkshire League Winners (1918–19, 1922–23, 1926–27, 1935–36)
European Club Champions (1956-1957)
Five time Eastern Division Championship Winners (1926-27, 1927–28, 1929–30, 1933–34, 1935–36)

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hull_F.C.
http://www.hullfc.com/hullfc/contents/?page_id=472

Club History: Featherstone Rovers

Featherstone Rovers was formed in 1902, reportedly by local coal miners.  The team played at the Featherstone Main Colliery Welfare Ground until 1908 when they moved to Post Office Road.

The club went about their business fairly quietly in the years leading up to WWI and in 1913 just before the war-time suspension of rugby in Britain, Featherstone Rovers merged with Purston White Horse.

Post-ceasefire in the 1920’s, Featherstone were still a ‘quiet’ club.  However, they managed a Yorkshire Cup final appearance in 1929, losing to Leeds.  They narrowly missed out on a Yorkshire League title in the same season too.

10 years later, they varnished over their disappointment in the 20’s with a Yorkshire Cup victory in 1939/40.  The timing was a little unfortunate as their first major trophy was followed by the Second World War and Featherstone’s momentum would inevitably be halted.

Resuming play after 1945, the Rovers’ main aim was to sustain a place in top tiers of the game.  In 1952 they played in the first ever televised Challenge Cup Final against Workington town.  Sadly, they couldn’t mark the occasion with a victory.

It would be over a decade before Rovers were in a major cup final again.  Despite finishing way in the bottom half of the table, Featherstone won their first Challenge Cup final in 1967.  They won the competition again in 1974.

A couple of seasons later, Rovers would be crowned Division One Champions in 1977.  Somehow the Champions slipped into Division Two the season afterwards.  They rebounded straight back up into the Championship in 1980 though and would go on to win another Challenge Cup in 1983.

They typically got on with their game quietly in the seasons that followed and after a poor display in the 1991/92 season, Featherstone were relegated to Division Two once again.  Repeating their resurrection from 1980, the club bounced straight back up into Division One.

When the Super League was created in 1995, Featherstone were just like every other club desperate for a place in the competition.  Not surprisingly, Rovers missed out but it was their misfortune in 1998 which was most heartbreaking – they were beaten 24-22 by local rivals Wakefield in the promotion-deciding inaugural Division One Grand Final.

The club was in a dark period in their history, which was further darkened in 2002 when they were forced into administration.  The club were relegated down to National League Two by 2005 and required help from the ‘Friends of Featherstone’, a group who raised money to bring in top quality players, who could in turn ensure Rovers’ promotion back into National League One.

It took two years to achieve their goal and in 2007, Featherstone were playing National League One football.

Plans were made to completely transform Featherstone’s home ground in 2008 (ironically 100 years after they moved into Post Office Road).

Again, the club went ‘quiet’ again for the latter stages of the noughties.  They didn’t apply for a Super League License in 2009 and instead vowed to concentrate on getting a larger fan base and more sustainability before submitting an application.