Carl Dooler: Scrum-half whose skills took Featherstone to victory in the 1967 Challenge Cup final

The former mining village of Sharlston, tucked between Wakefield and Featherstone, is a rugby league hotbed that makes others look tepid by comparison.

The tiny community and its 125-year-old amateur club have produced a steady stream of players who have thrived in the professional game, including one of its first real superstars, Jonty Parkin, and, quite remarkably, three winners of the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley. Two of them were the Fox brothers, Neil and Don. The third was Carl Dooler.

That was in 1967, when Dooler was the scrum-half in the Featherstone Rovers side that won the Cup for the first time – itself a major achievement for an overgrown village. Featherstone had lost there to Workington Town in 1952 and had been to five semi-finals since. In 1967, they beat Bradford, Wakefield, Castleford and Leeds to set up a final against the favourites, Barrow.

Dooler emerged as the key figure that day at Wembley. Rovers were trailing 7-2 when his clever pass sent Arnie Morgan in for a try. Just after the half-hour, he put over a drop-goal that gave them a lead they were never to lose. In the second half, he secured victory with a break from dummy half that took him past two defenders, before turning the ball inside for Tommy Smales to score and for Featherstone eventually to win 17-12.

Dooler had been clearly the best player on the pitch. Tom Ashcroft wrote in The Rugby Leaguer that "Dooler first fulfilled the scrum-half's main function by keeping the back-line on the move. He had his flashes of inspiration with the drop-goal and the making of a try and when his side was in control he turned to the unorthodox with some clever back-flip passes."

Dooler had joined Featherstone – from Sharlston Rovers, naturally – in 1960, but found his early first-team opportunities limited by Don Fox's grip on the scrum-half shirt. Despite that he was selected for Yorkshire in 1962 after only 16 senior games, when Fox was injured. He had good games against both Cumberland and Lancashire, leaving Rovers with an embarrassment of riches in the position. The problem was resolved when Fox moved to loose-forward, leaving Dooler as first-choice scrum-half until 1968.

Apart from his great day at Wembley, his tenure included a Yorkshire Cup final, in which he was sent off and later exonerated, too late to save Rovers from defeat by Hull KR.

In 1966, his form was good enough to earn him a place on the Great Britain tour to Australia and New Zealand. He played 15 matches and scored five tries, but the sparkling form of Tommy Bishop kept him out of the Test team; the closest he came to playing for his country was as an unused substitute in Auckland.

Two years later, he was transfer-listed by Featherstone after a dispute and, after 199 games and 62 tries, sold to Hull KR for £6,500. A back injury forced him to retire at the end of that season, but he made a surprise comeback with York in 1973 and played a handful of games with Batley the following year.

He later settled in the North-east, where he worked as a rigger, but his previous jobs had, almost inevitably, included working at the pit in Sharlston, the village where he is remembered as one of the great carriers of a proud rugby league tradition.

Carl Dooler, rugby league footballer: born Sharlston, Yorkshire 30 March 1943; twice married (one son, one daughter); died North Shields, Tyne and Wear 29 July 2010.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory