Hull KR look back at bold and brilliant Peter ‘Flash’ Flanagan

Hull KR look back at bold and brilliant Peter ‘Flash’ Flanagan

Peter Flanagan was born in East Hull in January 1941. He played for Yorkshire Schools before signing for the Robins from Craven Street Youth Club in May 1960.

At the time, former international Alvin Ackerley was Rovers’ hooker, and Flanagan had to bide his time and learn from the old pro. It was a feature of Flanagan’s career at Rovers that, even after Ackerley’s retirement, he had to fight off competition for the number 9 jersey, from Alan Holdstock and Alan Lockwood in his early years, and the likes of Peter Walker, Tony Crosby and David Heslop later in his career.

Flash, as he was invariably known, was not in the traditional mould of hookers of his time. Although a competent ball-winner, his strength was his flair and trickery in the loose, rather than the more physical side of the game.

Possessing both a remarkable sidestep and turn of pace for a short and stocky man, he provided a dangerous threat in attack, and had a knack of knowing just where to find the gaps in the defence. His former Rovers and Great Britain coach John Whiteley remarked that, 'You could not coach him – he was a true free spirit who played without fear. He had pace and anticipation, and was completely instinctive in his play.'

Flash was one of the ‘characters’ of the game – a ‘one-off’. He was a distinctive figure, with his quiff, sideburns and sunglasses and was noted for his impersonations of his idol, Elvis Presley. Along with his sense of humour, approachability and distinctive playing style, this made him a very popular figure on the rugby league scene in the 1960s and early 1970s. He was an idol to the up-and-coming younger players of the time, who often played alongside him in the ‘A’ team and benefitted from his help and encouragement.

After losing his place to Heslop in October 1974, he retired and went to play with Hull Dockers. By then, Flanagan had played in 415 games for Rovers, scoring 57 tries.He toured Australia three times, enjoying great popularity there. In total, he won 14 caps for Great Britain and five for England, and represented Great Britain in the 1968 World Cup.

In 1975, Hull FC tempted him briefly out of retirement to cover for the injured Tony Duke. He helped the Black & Whites become the first Second Division club to reach the old John Player Trophy final, in which he picked up a runners-up medal, before finally hanging up his boots at the end of the 1975/76 season.

A docker for most of his working life, Flanagan became the licensee of the King William in the Old Town after retiring from rugby. Whilst there, he was injured in a road accident that affected him in his later life, but he remained a familiar figure in the city for many years. Peter Flanagan died, just short of his 66th birthday, in January 2007.

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