Eric Batten & Freddy Miller


In 1951 Rovers were at a low ebb. Bob Jackson the chairman at the time, pulled off a master stroke of business when he signed Eric Batten to become the player/coach at Post Office Road. Eric was the son of the famous international andlegendary Billy Batten. Soon after his arrival, Freddie Miller was also signed from Hull. Miller was thought to be at the end of his career at Hull but the two veterans turned Featherstone Rovers round. Eric Batten had tremendous experience both at club and international level and this harnessed to his fitness ideas ( he was a fitness fanatic) soon saw a very new look at Rovers. He was a great advocate of gaining fitness through skipping. He soon introduced this to his new team. The team responded splendidly. Another chore his players had to perform was running up and down the steep steps of the old stand, which required the utmost fitness to negotiate. One of his other traits was his crash tackles and hurdling! However it was only the crash tackles that the Rovers mastered!

Batten and Miller must have seemed like fathers to the local lads they gathered about them . Gradually he and Freddie moulded them into the fitness and skill he required.

In the New Year Challenge cup competition which started with a two-legged tie against Rochdale Hornets. There was victory in both legs. This was followed by victory over Batley(A) before 10000 supporters which as an attendance was topped by that for the game against Wigan in the next round at home - 15000!. In the semi-final at Headingly, before 35000 people, Rovers lead by Eric Batten Rovers defeated Leigh and so were at Wembley for the first time. Eric Batten's fairy story could not continue and they were beaten by the newly formed Working ton Town. However this first appearance at Wembley under Eric Batten signaled Rovers arrival as a cup fighting force. They were to appear in the semi-final stage of the competition 6 times in the next 10 years

It is said that no man ever made a greater impact on the Rovers than Eric Batten. He made 101 appearnces for Rovers and scored 60 tries before retiring in 1954, but staying on as coach. His actual playing career spanned the years 1933 to 1954 and he played in 630 matches. His total number of tries stands at 443. He was also the top RL try scorer on 4 occassions in his career. He appeared in 8 Wembley finals - 5 for Bradford Northern, 2 for Leeds and 1 for Rovers. It is not well known that Eric had a love of greyhounds, which he raced with considerable success. He also was a great sprinter and used to take part in the professional Powderhall sprints in Scotland.