Peter Flanagan

Dashing rugby league hooker


Peter Flanagan, rugby league player, docker and publican: born Hull, Yorkshire 22 January 1941; twice married (one son, three daughters); died Hull c8 January 2007.

He might have been christened Peter, but the rugby league player "Flash" Flanagan was one of those sportsmen who was invariably known by a nickname that captured his style of play much more vividly.

As Hull Kingston Rovers' hooker in the 1960s, he went a long way towards redefining the role, with his pace and trickery adding a different dimension to the game. He made his mark far beyond the city in which he spent his professional career, touring Australia three times and becoming the first Rovers player to appear in a Test match there.

"He was a superb player who had a side-step that would leave some of the best players in the world flat-footed," said his Hull KR coach, Colin Hutton. "For five or six years he was the best hooker in the game."

It was Hutton who signed Flanagan for Rovers from his junior side, Craven Street Youth Club, in 1960. Hutton's story is that, after his one trial match against Huddersfield's A team, he locked Flanagan in the changing rooms until two directors arrived to complete the signing. "It was the best trial match I ever saw from anyone," Hutton says.

Flanagan went on to make 414 appearances for the Robins, in an era when they were just beginning to emerge as a force in the land. Those games included the 1964 Challenge Cup final at Wembley, when they were defeated by Widnes, and the 1968 Championship final, which they lost to Wakefield. He was on the winning side, however, in the Eastern Division Championship, which was Rovers' first trophy for 25 years when they took that short-lived title in 1963, and in three Yorkshire Cup finals.

His play was characterised by pace and cheek and enabled him to become one of the most dangerous counter- attackers in the game. "He would have taken the modern game by storm," insists Hutton. "He wasn't that keen on the physical side of the scrums, but in the loose he was outstanding."

International recognition came early, when Flanagan was twice picked against France in 1962. In 1966, he toured Australia and New Zealand for the first time, playing in four of the five Tests. That included all three in Australia, as Great Britain narrowly lost the Ashes series. He retained his place for the series on home soil the following year, another lost in the deciding Test, and for the 1968 World Cup in Australia.

When he was selected for the 1970 Ashes series, he became the first and so far only hooker to make three trips down under. He played in the first Test of that victorious tour, the cap being his 14th and last. With his lively sense of humour, Flanagan was a popular tourist. Hutton recalls a meal at a hotel in Brisbane in 1968 when he enquired about the precise nature of his starter. "It's bean soup," he was told. "I know what it's been," he replied. "But what is it now?"

An enthusiastic fan of Elvis Presley, Flanagan used to cut a dash around Hull with his quiff and sunglasses.

The denouement to his career ensured he would be warmly remembered on both sides of a city divided by affiliations to its two rugby league clubs. Having retired at Rovers, he played as an amateur for Hull Dockers until in 1975 Hull FC brought him back into the professional game when injury deprived them of their regular hooker, Tony Duke. It proved a masterstroke, as the veteran Flanagan guided them to the John Player Trophy final at Leeds. Hull, then in the Second Division, lost to Widnes but were the first club from outside the top flight to contest a major final. At the end of that season, Flanagan went back into retirement, continuing with his other job on Hull docks and at one stage running a pub in the town centre.

More of a loner towards the end of his life, he was found dead in his flat in Hull. There are already plans at Hull KR's Craven Park ground to erect a permanent memorial to him.

Dave Hadfield

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living