The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Friday, 17 March 2017

Martin Pearson

Following the controversial departure of Graham Steadman in the summer of 1989, Featherstone Rovers initially turned back to the reliable Alan Banks as their go-to man to cover stand-off. They also used youngster Ian Smales who was making a name for himself across the backline.  Another local youngster Tim Sharp also proved his utility value and regularly partnered Deryck Fox at half-back. 

Martin Pearson
With Smales equally at home in the three-quarters, the half backs or the back row, and with Sharp able to cover 6,7 and 13, Rovers then added another talented local youngster into the mixture. Sharlston bred Martin Pearson had joined Featherstone in 1989 and made his full debut (after some earlier games as a sub) at stand off against Sheffield in 1990. He marked his first start with eight goals in a close Rovers win and then landed a last minute match-winning touchline conversion against Leeds the week after. It was a sensational start and young Martin set about delivering on that early promise.

For the next two seasons Smales, Sharp and Pearson all seemed to swap around as coach Peter Fox was happy to mix and match. When Smales was at stand-off Martin would play on the wing, or cover for Chris Bibb at full-back. When Steve Martin arrived, Smales was settled into the back-row, Sharp lost favour and was transferred to York so Pearson got an extended run at stand-off. He rewarded his coach’s faith with a prolific season, grabbing 28 tries and 140 goals to smash Steve Quinn’s points in a season record.  When Chris Bibb got injured towards the end of the season Pearson switched to full-back where his pace and power were too much for second division defences.

To cover Pearson’s positional switch, Rovers picked up a bright young prospect from Leeds by the name of Francis Maloney. Short and stocky but with pace off the mark, Maloney enjoyed an influential spell until a knee injury ruled him out and Warrington came in with a big offer for his services. The coast was now clear for Pearson to enjoy an uninterrupted spell in the halves under new coach David Ward, but a serious knee injury cost him almost a complete season. Rovers covered that gap with two New Zealanders, both Mark Nixon and Brendon Tuuta partnering Mark Aston at half-back.

After the SKY revolution and enforced demotion, Rovers lost almost an entire first team squad, but Martin Pearson was one of the few players who stayed. He was a virtual ever present at stand-off during the Centenary season and in the first year of summer rugby. Both seasons he was top try scorer and top goal scorer. Inevitably Super League came calling and he served Halifax, Sheffield and Wakefield before trying his hand at rugby union in France. He played 166 games for Featherstone, 103 as starting stand-off. He scored 101 tries and kicked 470 goals. His 1338 points leaves him as our fifth greatest points scorer of all-time.

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