Glorious mismash celebrating rich history of Hull Kingston Rovers

CRAMMING 140 years of history into one image, with countless references, is not the easiest of tasks.

That is why it is rarely attempted but Hull KR decided to commission one such piece in order to commemorate their next big anniversary.

The East Yorkshire club, founded in 1882, last night unveiled the result: a striking “mishmash” depiction, full of glorious memories, which bids to try and encapsulate the Robins’ entire lifespan.

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Designed by talented illustrator Alex Bennett, who is famed for his ‘Footy Mishmash’ poster series working with the likes of Manchester City and West Ham United, it is an impressive piece of work.

Incorporating major events, players, coaches and characters in the Robins’ rich history, it provides an instant snapshot of some memorable and famous images as well as some lesser known acknowledgements.

Icons such as the legendary Roger Millward – depicted meeting the Queen Mother ahead of the 1980 Challenge Cup final win at Wembley – revered Australian forward Gavin Miller, George Fairbairn, Paul Fletcher and Stanley Gene all feature.

John Dorahy, phoning his family back in Australia after the 1986 Challenge Cup semi-final win, the great Clive Sullivan lifting the Cup, a flag waving hailing ‘Phil Lowe Crushes Stone With His Hands’ and another declaring ‘Hull KR: No Merger, No Takeover’ are all wonderfully interwoven. But it is not just players who are hailed.

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Edward Klempka, the administrator from Price Waterhouse Coopers who came into the club in 1997 and turned down a bid which he thought would lead to KR being taken over by Hull FC, rightfully has his place, two years after sadly passing.

Anniversary montage: Hull KR mismash.Anniversary montage: Hull KR mismash.
Anniversary montage: Hull KR mismash.

So, too, do Keith Lyon and Adge Cutler, from the Rovers Supporters Group, who organised “Rovers on the March” in 2000, raising £50,000 to help the club avoid going bust.

Commissioned by KR ahead of its 140th birthday, the piece has been put together with suggestions from supporters following an appeal in January, with the final version taking more than 1,000 painstaking hours of drawing.

Bennett said: “I am excited to complete my first ever Rugby League project. When the Robins approached me last year, I was excited to get involved in a club with such a deep and fascinating history. I hope I have done all the stories and memories justice and given an accurate representation of all those special moments.

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“Who knows, hopefully I’ll get asked to update it for the 150th anniversary to add a couple of new trophies.”

KR’s head of marketing Craig Franklin added: “Whilst the club is moving forward and evolving on all fronts, ahead of our special anniversary we wanted to do something to recognise all those characters and people who have contributed so much to our history.

“To me, supporting a club is about so much more than just the on-field success. It’s the people you stand or sit next to season after season, the funny stories you hear, the cult heroes, that’s what it’s about.

“It’s nice to be able to recognise some of those unsung heroes, sponsors, volunteers and supporters that have done so much to contribute to our story, alongside players we all know and love who rightly take centre stage. We couldn’t fit absolutely everyone in the final piece, but I think we represent a good cross section of the club, the characters, and everything that makes us so special.”

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As the only prominent opposition player included, Rovers have also paid tribute to Rob Burrow, the Leeds Rhinos legend who has done so much to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease as he continues his own brave battle with the fatal condition. As a mark of respect for the diminutive scrum-half who traditionally caused them so many problems over his trophy-laden career, he is shown playing for Leeds as they inflicted a record-breaking 50-0 Challenge Cup final defeat on Rovers at Wembley in 2015.

Robins legend Scott Murrell is illustrated famously riding the King Billy Statue in Hull city centre, celebrating after the charismatic stand-off helped Rovers win promotion to Super League for the first time in 2006.

“It’s a real honour being included,” said the Keighley Cougars player, who made almost 200 appearances for KR.

“Although it’d have been nice to show me playing rather than being on the p***!”

Murrell regaled how those events unfolded.

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He said: “We’d been in Platform 1 after we’d won that final and then we went back to a pub which was run by one of the fans. I think it’d got to about eight o’clock in the morning and I just decided to take all my clothes off and get on the King Billy statue.

“I’d not realised it’s right opposite Hull Crown Court, though! I got a phone call from Neil (Hudgell) the next morning.

“He’d heard about it. Luckily, I managed to get out of any trouble. But a few people have said the mismash isn’t quite right - as I’ve got my playing kit on!

“It is great, though, and I really love what’s been done.”

Murrell’s team-mate Ben Cockayne is also illustrated, from being pictured in tears on the pitch after that famous 2006 Grand Final win over Widnes.

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Asked for his thoughts, he simply said: “Life would be a lot different if it wasn’t for Hull KR.”

For myriad reasons, it will be a sentiment no doubt echoed by all those fortunate enough to be captured by Bennett. There are well over 100 separate creations from Wilf Spaven, the club’s longest-serving chairman, and legendary coach and president Colin Hutton to John Prescott MP, current owner Hudgell and kitman Alan ‘Bonesy’ Fellows.

Going back more than a century, George ‘Tich’ West, who played from 1901-08 and scored a record 53 points against Brookland Rovers, is featured as well as the final scoreboard at the Old Craven Park.

The KR pack of Brian Tyson, Joby Shaw, Frank Fox, Bill Holliday and Frank Foster lining up at a scrum during a mud-laden victory at Headingley in the same year England won the football World Cup is an enduring image of what rugby league was once like.

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Of the many famous tries depicted, few will have been more rejoiced than Dave Hodgson’s 60m classic that won the derby against Hull at Magic Weekend in 2012 while - bringing it back to the modern day - Ryan Hall’s 200th career try against his former club Leeds Rhinos earlier this year also claims a spot.

Justin Morgan, Paul Harkin, Harry Poole, Clint Newton, Steve Hubbard, John Lydiat, Mose Masoe, Ben Galea... even Erasure and Maurice Blair’s gesture to Hull fans... the list goes on.

Supporters can purchase copies of the work via the club. There is a limited 140 individually numbered and signed prints available sized A1 and priced at £40.

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