How A Midland League Match Changed Hull KR's Fortunes In Every Way

Last updated : 04 January 2007 By James Lodge
Picture the scene, three Tigers Legends stood at the end of a bar enjoying a pint together: Jimmy Lodge, Tommy Bleakley and Geordie Maddison. With them is a fish merchant friend called Wilf Spaven. Tommy died tragically young. Wilf went on to become Chairman of the Robins and the Rugby League itself. He actually bought the bar in question (the Manor Club) and it was on its stage that Geordie Maddison collapsed and died. To Jimmy it was his refuge from the hurly burly of life. He and Wilf remained friends until his death.

Back in the 50's, Hull KR were in dire straits financially and effectively only survived on the income from greyhound racing.

Hull City Reserves played in the old Midland League which was a mixture of reserve teams of league clubs and non-league sides including Peterborough United. I remember the long trips on the team coach to such places as Wisbech, Kings Lynn and Boston United – and it is Boston which is the focus here.

On one visit, Jimmy Lodge noticed someone selling "raffle tickets" at the match and asked about them – they were what Boston United called their "Pools" and it was in effect a prize draw which raised quite substantial amounts for the club. They had devised it and ran it just for their benefit.

Over a pint, Jimmy and Wilf were chatting about various matters when the Boston scheme came to mind.

To cut the story short, many meetings were held (a couple I recall in the front room of our home) and Hull KR took what was really a franchise on the Boston scheme. Rovers Pools saved the club and helped build the foundation for the success the club had during the 60's and 70's.