The Self-isolation Chronicles: Hull KR

Self-isolation and social distancing is in full swing and boredom is beginning to emerge. At Total Rugby League, we hopefully have an antidote to prevent even just a fraction of you from falling out of love with the game. Plus, to be honest, we’re with you in the ‘hunting for things to do’ department, so count this as a filler of time for us too. Henceforth, we present the “Self-isolation Chronicles.”

It’s fairly straight forward, we post five random facts about each Super League club over the next few days. It’s your job to top them on social media or on the Total RL Forum. We’re on the lookout for the obscure.

The fact that Hull FC became the first Super League side to field a Greek-born player, at any level, when Doncaster’s Stefanos Bastas played for their reserves last year.

Alternatively, the fact that Catalans Dragons had to beat the bids of Toulouse Olympique and Villeneuve Leopards to join Super League in 2006.

Don’t just limit yourself to the post-1996 land of mergers and Sky TV, either, if you know anything about the Great Split in 1895 you will trump us fairly comprehensively. Today’s club: Hull KR.

1. Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s dad is a Paralympic gold medallist

New Zealand international Shaun Kenny-Dowall joined the Robins as their headline act for the 2020 season, in a new wave of recruitment drive for the club, but did you know his dad was a successful Paralympian? John Dowall represented New Zealand at the 1996 Paralympics, in Atlanta, and the 2000 edition in Sydney. In 1996, he competed in: discus, javelin, long jump and shot put. Four years later, he took part in: discus, pentathlon, and won silver in shot put and a gold medal in javelin, respectively. All that after losing leg after a lawnmower accident at the age of five, not bad at all.

2. You’ve been saying Stanley Gene’s name wrong for years.

All these years, we’ve been saying Stanley Gene (that’s jean, like Levi’s). You might be surprised to know, in his native Papua New Guinea, it’s pronounced Jennay (like the way Forest Gump says ‘Jenny’). Now that he’s back in the fold at Hull KR coaching, let’s pay the legend the respect he deserves. As for his age, he confirmed that at a birthday dinner in 2013, proving he was born on 11th May 1974. At least that’s what his birth certificate says…

3. They sacked two Academy coaches for having a pint.

The Robins infamously sacked Academy coaches Mick Crane and Des Harrison in 2003, The pair had worked for the club for almost three decades, combined, with club legend Harrison as first player and then Academy coach. The pair were embarrassingly caught by chief executive Nick Halafihi, who had shown the bar area to five Academy players to show them how professional the set-up was. Only to find Crane and Harrison sinking a pint, before a first-team game in which they were acting as assistants. They were duly sacked, a decision defended by head coach Steve Linnane.

4. They once trialled two American Football players.

One month before Hull KR’s famous 10-5 Wembley victory over inter-city rivals Hull FC, in 1980, they fielded two American players by the names of Tim Anchors and Pat Kelly in a first-team game against Widnes.

The pair had crossed over from Gridiron and were looking make their name in the 13-man code. Little is known of what happened to Kelly, but Anchors moved to Huddersfield under Maurice Bamford that year.

The back-rower, from Kansas City, was a tower of a man – emulated by a story told in Bamford’s own words: “I had a couple of lads at Huddersfield who were both fearsome characters. There was a big American called Tim Anchors and was a defensive line-backer in American Football. Tim was a cross between the Incredible Hulk, Big Daddy and the Loch Ness Monster. Anyway, he shared a house with another of our lads, Jimmy Johnson.

“Between them they bore the facial scars of many a rugby battle – broken noses, scar tissues, and cauliflower ears, and were definitely not a pretty sight. As they prepared to go out one Friday night, they heard a knock on the front door.

“It was the gasman looking for his money, as the collectors were always trying to catch them in. Jimmy and Timmy were at the bottom of the cellar steps, with the gasman going ‘Hello, anybody home?’ Suddenly, he opened the door to the cellar and the beam of light from his torch shone on to these big, stooping, scar-faced, Herman Munster-type forwards crouched in the blackness. A scream of fear erupted from the gasman, who fled for his life away from two giant ghouls standing there in the inky blackness. Apparently they had to revive the gasman with smelling salts in the grocer’s shop.”

5. Hull KR used to play in West Hull.

Non-Hullensians seem to have quite a bit of difficulty in judging whether Hull KR and Hull FC are East or West Hull. Well it’s simple. Hull KR are in the East of the city and Hull FC are in the West. It be couldn’t any simpler and that’s the way it always has been. Only it hasn’t. Hull KR used to play at the Boulevard, the later spiritual home of Hull FC, in the West of the city until 1895. Hull FC had offered to pay more rent than their rivals, and they were forced to move elsewhere. Before then, Hull FC had been playing in East Hull and were formed by a group of ex-schoolboys from York. Hull KR subsequently bought their old Southcoates ground on Craven Street, not to be confused with Old Craven Park. They didn’t move there until 1922. Not to be confused with New Craven Park (their current stadium), they moved there in 1989. That’s a different place too. All in East Hull, just not the same places. Like we said, it’s very simple.