Bill Philip 'Phil' Hogan
(1971 to 1978)
Date of birth: 10 October, 1954.
Place of birth: Barrow-in-Furness (Lancashire).
Signed from: Holker Pioneers ARLFC (on 16 July, 1971).
Debut: 2 October, 1971 v Wakefield Trinity (away).
Last appearance: 17 November, 1978 v Salford (away).
Went to: Hull Kingston Rovers RLFC for a then world record fee of £33,000 (on 18 October, 1978).
Known professional career:
Barrow (1971 to 1978).
Hull Kingston Rovers (1978 to 1988).
Known family connections:
Younger brother of Steve.
Second Row (2).
Loose Forward (109).
Unused Substitute (4).
Career length: 7 years 48 days.
Last known status: Living in Barrow-in-Furness.
In addition to the above Phil was an unused substitute on 4 occasions.
Phil Hogan is one of the finest Rugby League players ever produced locally and his record in the sport compares favourably with just about any player in this book. Phil Hogan had all the attributes needed to make it to the top in Rugby League; he was big, he was strong, he was incredibly fit, he was physically powerful, he was extremely quick and, perhaps above all else, he was fiercely competitive with a burning desire to be successful. He would have been a star in any era, and his style of play would have been ideally suited to the modern Super League style of play. It was no surprise whatsoever, to those who knew him, when he ultimately performed at the game’s highest levels. Phil rose to prominence as a player whilst still a schoolboy, playing for the St Aloysius (now St Bernard’s) school team and Holker Pioneers ARLFC. He was barely out of school when Barrow, recognising his potential, signed him as a sixteen year old. Indeed, he was still some eight days short of his seventeenth birthday when he made his first team debut for the club, playing on the wing (with the great Keith Jarrett as his centre) in a 10-38 defeat at Wakefield.
Phil was nursed through that debut season, playing mainly for the A team with just a handful of first team appearances thrown in to acquaint him with the rigours of the professional game. By the following season, however, he was a regular in the senior side and was beginning to take on the kicking duties from time to time too. Phil would remain at Barrow for just over seven years but in that time he helped the club win the 1975/76 Division Two Championship, became a Cumbria County player and, in 1977, was a surprise inclusion in the Great Britain squad that went to Australia to contest the World Cup. Many thought Phil wasn’t ready for that tour but he proved the doubters wrong. He was undoubtedly one of the stars of that trip, gaining accolades from the press on both sides of the world. He picked up several man of the match awards and was in Great Britain’s starting line up for the final against Australia, a final which the old enemy only won by 13-12.
Phil’s standing in the game had risen enormously during that World Cup competition and his was now a high profile player. Barrow managed to hold onto him for another twelve months but, in October 1978, they succumbed to a world record bid from Hull Kingston Rovers and duly sold him for £33,000 (sometimes reported as £35,000). Whichever figure was correct is irrelevant; it was still the highest fee paid for a player, anywhere in the world, up to that point in time. To put it into perspective, with that money Barrow signed Steve Tickle, Ian Ball, Nigel French and still had some change to play with! Phil’s move to Hull Kingston Rovers proved to be a good one for him. He remained there for a decade and gained further international honours with England, Great Britain Under 24s (as captain) and the full Great Britain side. He would win virtually every honour in the sport with the Robins and, towards the end of his time there, he enjoyed a richly deserved testimonial season.
By the time he retired from the game in 1988, Phil Hogan had played for eighteen years at the top level and could look back on a marvellous career. He was inducted into the Barrow Hall of Fame in 2002 and when he received his citation he was, for once, lost for words. He was clearly very emotional about it and told me afterwards that of all the awards he had ever won, that one was the most important to him! Phil moved back to live at Barrow-in-Furness when his playing days were over and is still a regular at Barrow first team matches. He is no longer involved in rugby, though up until a couple of years ago he had a lengthy spell coaching the local Furness RUFC.