Through the wonders of the internet (facebook and twitter), I found out that two Featherstone players have their birthday today. Coincidentally I got to meet both of them recently, which is unusual for me as I hardly know any players or ex-players at all.
The first birthday boy, looking as young as he ever did, is Peter Smith. It hardly requires any words from me to describe the stature of this man’s achievements at our club and in the sport in general. But if words were necessary, then Immortal, Legend, All-time Great, are all appropriate to describe a back-rower who gave everything to our club over almost 20 years. He played over 400 games, won the League Championship and the Challenge Cup, played and toured for Great Britain. He was the best tackler I ever saw and scored over 100 tries for the club as a back row forward. He overcame crippling injuries to continue his career and was always an exemplary sportsman, rarely, if ever, giving away a penalty.
The other birthday boy, a year or two younger, is not a Featherstone lad, and had probably never heard of the place growing up in Sydney. He played for St.George and Parramatta and arrived here in January. Chances are he will be on his way at the end of the year. But Cameron King has been our best player and onfield organiser this year. He’s a charismatic leader who has a positive effect on his team-mates. Not the biggest man, he has put his body on the line this year with some incredible tackling stints as well as being leading try scorer with his close range drives from acting half-back.
I was invited to Peter’s house to interview him for a book I’m writing, and I briefly met Cam post-match when I asked him to pose for a photo with my nephew pitchside. Peter is such a knowledgeable, easy-going and modest man, it’s easy to forget just just how hard you have to be to reach the top level in rugby league. Cam came off the field, obviously shattered but with a smile on his face with all the time in the world and some kind words to absolutely make the day of a young Rovers fan (and his uncle).
Two players who are part of the rich history of Featherstone Rovers RLFC. I love our club.