And the Aussie link continued in with Warrington secretary Bob Anderton elected as business manager for the tour Down Under. Rugby League took hold in France in the s when the French Rugby Union found itself ostracised by its international fellows amid allegations of professionalism! As a result yet another breakaway movement was formed and they hosted an exhibition international game in Paris in and a year later they sent a representative side to England and staged the first Great Britain versus France Test match in April, Also in this era, Steve Ray established a new seasons' try scoring record with 33 in , but that was increased to 34 in by Izzy Davies.
January brought the opening of new dressing rooms underneath the main stand. Wilderspool hosted the Championship final between Salford and Wigan and attracted a bumper crowd of 31, That was a record but it was beaten in years to follow. The traditional pre-season friendly between Warrington and Wigan, the Locker Cup, started in It was then known as the Wardonia Cup and was donated by a local firm for charity matches. Charities and amateur football in both towns benefited from the proceeds of these games. Standing ovation for reserve team trialist FOR the second time, war brought a halt to Rugby League championship action.
Only friendlies were played during World War Two, to Wilderspool was commandeered for storage space and many Wire stars guested for other clubs during this period. With no money coming in through the turnstiles, it left Warrington with difficulties in paying their bills. A meeting was called at the British Legion Club in and it was approved that the club should be formed as a limited company.
The shareholders were soon to see value for their money with the arrival of an unknown Australian navy stoker in It was the start of a new era at Wilderspool. Not surprisingly it was a try-scoring start and he received a standing ovation from the supporters. A week later he played for the first team as a trialist and the legend had begun. Warrington signed him on immediately and Bevan promised to return after his discharge from the Australian Navy. Bevan set Wilderspool alight as he smashed the club's try scoring record with 48 tries in 42 appearances.
His official debut came in the second leg Lancashire Cup win at home to Salford, and again he was among the scorers. We are the champions! Chairman J. Tilling and his directors swooped for Warrington-born Harold 'Moggy' Palin from Swinton and wasted no time in introducing to the front row close season signings Bill Darbyshire and Bill 'Spiv' Riley, both prop forwards.
It made all the difference! Warrington went two months without defeat. Warrington became aware that they had to do something to make the most of their talented wingers, Bevan and Albert Johnson. So they strengthened their centre department with the capture of Albert Pimblett from Halifax and then Bryn Knowelden. Utility back Stan Powell also landed at Wilderspool. The result was that Warrington went undefeated in 20 games from December to April , won the Lancashire League and gained a place in the Championship top four play-off.
In the semi-final play-off, tries from Bevan 2, Pimblett 2, and hooker Dave Cotton, plus a goal from Palin, was enough to end the hopes of Huddersfield at Wilderspool. Bevan and Pimblett crossed the whitewash again, with Powell adding the third as Wire secured an historical success. And just for the record, Cotton won the scrums against Northern's Darlinson Warrington were champions for the very first time! Pimblett proved to be an inspirational signing for Warrington that season. Not only did he score 19 tries himself but was provider for many of the 57 that Bevan scored, nine higher than the record he set in the previous year.
There was another signing that season, Australian Harry Bath, who joined the club from Barrow in March, too late to be able to play in the top four play-offs. The team won the Lancashire League, on the back of 19 straight wins at the start of the season, finished runners-up to Wigan in the Lancashire Cup and runners-up to Huddersfield in the League Championship final at Maine Road, the stadium where Wire had become champions for the first time 12 months earlier. Warrington missed out on successive Championships by just one point, A staggering 75, crammed into Maine Road.
Wilderspool's record attendance was created in this season. The ground bulged at its seams as 34, turned out to see Warrington lose only their second game of the season — to Wigan! Almost 32, turned up to see the two teams battle out the pre-season friendly for the Ward Charity Cup at Central Park.
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The year-old played a big part in helping Warrington reach the final of the Challenge Cup and it turned out to be Wire's first Wembley success. They defeated Widnes in front of 95, fans. Just before Christmas, Warrington went down to the south of France for a weekend of action. They won at Toulouse and followed it up 24 hours later with a victory over Albi.
Brockbank bowed out after 15 years IT was only right that in the highly successful Wire era of to that the club's stars should figure on the international scene. Second rower Harry Bath gave up his captaincy part way through the season because he felt the extra responsibilities had affected his game. Bryn Knowelden took over and ironically the team lost at Workington, only their third defeat in 20 games. Warrington paid their third visit in four years to Manchester City's Maine Road to face Workington in the Championship final.
Despite leading at half-time, Wire went down A big change for the club came in when manager Chris Brockbank ended 15 years at the helm to take up a hotel business in Blackpool. The man who came in to replace him was New Zealander Ces Mountford. Another newcomer to the club during the season was Eric Fraser, the club's fifth full back on the books at that time. And there was a new chairman too in F. Davies, who took over from P. Some things never changed that season — wing sensation Brian Bevan kept on scoring.
He was also proving to Australia why he was worth an international spot too. And in that campaign too another Australian broke a club record that still stands today. Pack ace Harry Bath, signed from Barrow, scored a record points from 13 tries and goals in 40 appearances. There was an historical milestone in April, , when Warrington's ground staged its first international.
That was the game between Wales and Other Nationalities. Ces Mountford's heroes scorched to a fantastic treble. It was the first time Warrington had achieved cup success in the same season as winning the league Championship and the Lancashire League Cup. Halifax must have been sick of the sight of Wire's troops. They met in the challenge Cup final at Wembley which ended , two penalties per team.
The replay took place 11 days later at Odsal Stadium before a world record crowd of , Many more did not get to the game because of horrendous travel congestion. Yorkshire had never seen anything like it and many historians now believe that as many as , people could have been on the ground that night. Warrington were successful with tries scored by Jim Challinor and Gerry Helme.
The Championship final, again between Warrington and Halifax, came only three days later at Maine Road, but this time there was only 36, in attendance. Wire relied on the boot of prolific goalkicker Harry Bath to kick them to victory Great Britain won after a play-off against France. It was a Brian Bevan try and two Harry Bath goals that secured the victory over Oldham in the Championship final at Maine Road with 49, watching the game. And with winning the Lancashire League too it was Warrington's 10th piece of silverware in eight years. Plus they had finished runners-up on four other occasions during that period, the best run of success the club has enjoyed in its entire history.
That Championship success was the last to date for Wire but they did reach the semi-finals again the year after following their Lancashire League success for the third time on the trot. But Warrington were defeated at the Boulevard. The biggest cheers of the year were for the club's three successes at Wigan, a rarity in those days too. It turned into a transformation period for Warrington with many top names drawing to a close their Wire careers.
Full back or half back Eric Frodsham took no part in the campaign. Pack and goal-kicking ace Harry Bath and livewire scrum half Gerry Helme played half a season and then finished at Wilderspool. Danny Naughton played four games and then left. Loose forward Bob Ryan played fewer games as he was coming towards the end of his Wire spell. Bill McFarlane missed a season and Brian Bevan struggled with injuries. That honour went to rising star Laurie Gilfedder with 22 from 39 games.
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He also kicked 57 goals. It is not surprising that Wire finished 10th in the league. They did reach the semi-finals of the Lancashire Cup but lost to St Helens Attendances were below previous seasons' average and on January 19, , Warrington took action by launching the club's lottery, which was to play an important part in the club's future finances. It was a time for change with the stadium too.
In the popular side terracing of the ground became fully covered and soon after the Fletcher Street End was rooved. It ended a lull of four seasons without silverware, something Warrington fans were not used to after they had previously bagged 11 trophies in nine seasons. Winning the Lancashire Cup in '59 was just as special as all the rest to Mountford.
The team played away from home all the way through to the final at Central Park, where Wire sneaked it against St. A year later Warrington were back in the Championship hunt again. Wire met Leeds at Bradford's Odsal Stadium in the Championship final but it was the Loiners who came out on top That final brought the end to Mountford's year contract at the helm at Wilderspool. The New Zealander's career at Warrington might not have ended quite how we would have liked it to but he had many good times to look back on with the team and throughout his spell with Warrington he steered many individuals to county and international glory.
Ernie Ashcroft, who had made 11 international appearances in his playing days at Wigan, had the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Mountford. And the Australian flyer scored his th try in his th game to say a fond farewell to the Wire fans who were still a gaze in awe of the great wingman's presence. The sidesteps, the swerves, the foolery, the speed — it all ended for the Wilderspool crowd on Easter Monday, , an amazing 17 years after playing his first game as a trialist. It was an emotional departure. Bill Garvin wrote in his Warrington Rugby League Club centenary publication: "Leigh were defeated and after the match was over the crowd gathered in front of the main stand chanting 'We want Bev'.
It was a very moving occasion. The directors invited Brian into the boardroom where official goodbyes were said. Many on the terraces were saying such words as: "We'll never see the likes of him again. There will only ever be one Brian Bevan. And it was probably no coincidence that Warrington took a long time to settle after Bevan's departure to Blackpool.
Glover was the new wing wizard at Wilderspool. He had topped the club's try scoring charts since Bevan's departure. Also, for the first time in seven years, Warrington won the Silcock Cup, defeating Widnes in the final of the annual seven-a-side competition. As well as league restructuring in this era there were some other important changes. A friendly was played against Wigan in to celebrate the installation of floodlights at Wilderspool.
Warrington lost that game to the cherry and whites. Success was proving difficult to come by for Warrington and, in a search for the man to turn the tide, Wire appointed new coaches in J. Fleming in , Joe Egan in and then Peter Harvey in Attendances had dwindled, costs were rising and the club were understandably having financial difficulties. After the glory days of the fifties, it was certainly a case of the dark days of the sixties. Murphy, still on a high after steering Leigh to Challenge Cup glory three months earlier, also banged over a goal and drop goal as Wire knocked Whitehaven out of the Lancashire Cup.
But if fans had hopes of Murphy working overnight miracles, their hopes were short-lived. After crashing out of the Lancashire Cup and the Floodlit Trophy the team created a club record eight successive defeats. It started to pay off in time for the Challenge Cup. Warrington reached the semi-finals, only missing out on a Wembley trip after losing a tense replay against St Helens.
Murphy had brought renewed optimism to Wilderspool and justifiably so. And his methods were having further rewards as average attendances had catapulted by more than a thousand. Warrington lost only one of their opening 22 games and ended the season with the League Leader's Trophy.
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Welsh Rugby Union wonder John Bevan arrived just in time to enjoy it too. The former British Lion wingman signed on September 20, Three days later 'Bev' scored on his debut at home to Castleford. What was to follow can only be described as phenomenal. The Captain Morgan Trophy competition was run for the first and only time and Wire clinched it with a final success over Featherstone. Warrington followed that up with a defeat of Rochdale Hornets in the John Player final and then Murphy's men stormed to Challenge Cup success over Featherstone at Wembley. The icing on the cake was the top eight play-off Trophy, secured after a success over St.
But they had a good go. Wire returned to Wembley only to have their celebrations spoiled by Widnes while they also had to settle for runners-up prize in the Floodlit Trophy. There were honours for the Wilderspool ground too during this era. The Kangaroos beat the Lions, and the freezing weather, in front of 10, fans. Then in , Wilderspool staged the world cup clash between England and Wales. The four-trophy haul of two seasons past seemed light years away.
Challenge Cup hopes ended in the third round at home to Widnes but they were lucky not to have been ditched in the first round by amateurs Leigh Miners at Wilderspool.
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Warrington struggled to a success. The club was on a low and the fans had grown to expect better from Murphy. So where had it all gone wrong? Injuries played a big part. There was no silverware to shout about the season after but Wire's fortunes seemed to have changed. Warrington, who finished a creditable fifth in the league, crashed out of the Premiership play-offs at the first hurdle, but yet appeared in the final.
Wire won through to the final but lost to St Helens at Swinton Stars of the season were John Bevan with 17 touch downs and Steve Hesford with goals while Mike Kelly and Ken Kelly were two of the newcomers to the club. Poor league form had left Wire dangerously close to the drop at one point and that meant Murphy lost many friends on the terraces.
A Bevan special sealed it. And there was a good run in the Challenge Cup too which was only ended by St Helens in the semi-finals. Murphy's last game in charge was a disappointing one — a drubbing at Widnes in the Premiership play-offs. One of Murphy's last signings, Billy Benyon, was acting captain for this game. He was sent off for a high tackle. Less than two months later, he was the new Warrington boss.
He made an immediate impact as Wire finished runners-up in the league and the John Player Trophy in his first season as player coach. This was the year Warrington beat the cocky Australian tourists in front of a packed house at Wilderspool. And it was also the season when Steve Hesford kicked a club record goals, 13 of which were one-pointers.
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But the season ended on a sour note. In the Premiership play-offs semi-finals Bradford Northern triumphed at Wilderspool. Ken Kelly had to miss out on the forthcoming Great Britain tour down under after breaking his jaw in a Len Casey tackle in the Northern match. The club's centenary season brought about the resignation of chairman Ossie Davies, the man who had saved the club from extinction in Brian Pitchford was the new supremo. A marvellous display at Knowsley Road enabled Wire to stuff Second Division Wigan in the Lancashire Cup final, their first county cup win for 15 years.
And after a titanic tussle in the John Player semi-finals with Castleford, which went to a replay, Warrington were too strong for Barrow at Central Park and scored a success. Bob Eccles started to show off his try-scoring prowess as well, touching down 15 times. Warrington had another new coach in , their former Challenge Cup medal winner Kevin Ashcroft. Benyon was later to win an unfair dismissal case against Warrington. Ashcroft steered Warrington to Lancashire Cup glory in his first full season, a year marred by the Wilderspool fire which wiped out the complete main stand.
It was also a season which saw the arrival of the sin bin and a decision at international board level to change the value of a try from three to four points. Best final In History? His 22 tries in the Slalom Lager Championship were a league record for a forward and he equalled the John Player Trophy record of scoring five tries in one match at home to Blackpool Borough. He had a trademark touch down style throughout this campaign. Eccles scored many tries from short range by using his skipper Ken Kelly as a dummy acting half back who would roll the ball through his legs, dart off one way, and then allowing Eccles to go the opposite way.
Eccles, during a run of scoring tries in nine successive games, was called into the Great Britain squad for his first and only Test appearance against the all conquering Australian tourists — 15 games played, 15 games won. This was the realisation year. The Aussie game had jumped light years ahead of its British counterpart and there was a lot of catching up work to be done. Many changes followed. And as well as this campaign signalling the start of four-point tries, it also brought the handover rule for players being caught in possession on the sixth tackle.
Ashcroft's boys, wearing jerseys sponsored for the first time, took third spot in the league but were disappointing in the knockouts. Wire's name appeared to be on the Lancashire Cup after a sensational second round success at St. Wire had three men sent off and St. Helens two after a 20th minute brawl. Later, referee Stan Wall sent two Wire players to the sin bin and so for 20 minutes of the game they played with nine men against Twice Warrington scored tries with only nine men on the field and recorded a thrilling victory. All that effort was in vain when Wire lost at home to Barrow in the semi-finals.
Wire supporters were surprised when Warrington and Ashcroft parted company in May, , despite the former Wire hooker still having two years of his contract to run. The man who took over was ex-Widnes scrum half Reg Bowden, Wire's third new coach in six years. Bowden's two-year spell at the helm was more notable for some of his signings, rather than success on the field. He splashed out a world record fee for Great Britain and Widnes scrum half Andy Gregory, a deal which included part exchange for John Fieldhouse. He brought 'unknown' Bob Jackson from his former club Fulham.
And then in October Bowden shocked the whole of the Rugby League world by signing Les Boyd at the end of his long term suspension for alleged 'gouging'. A week after the Kangaroo Test prop made his Wire debut, an Australian full back joined Warrington's ranks — the relatively unknown but none-the-less exciting Brian Johnson! And both played a week later as Warrington lost the Lancashire cup final by the record defeat of against Wigan at Knowsley Road.
Money had been spent but the rewards had not followed. Bowden resigned and loyal assistant coach Tony Barrow took over the reins in a caretaker role in March Success soon followed. Fax did not know what had hit them as Barrow's boys ripped them to shreds to win Many fans regarded this as Wire's greatest knockout final victory. And it was the first campaign of the eighties that Warrington had gone into without the services of record-breaking goal kicker Steve Hesford. His haul of 17 drop goals was a season's record.
The year before he kicked five in one match, also a record, as Wire knocked Wigan out of the Premiership Trophy. He crossed for 25 tries — the highest total ever for a Warrington full back. He helped Wire to third place in the league and runners-up spot to Wigan in the John Player Trophy and in the revamped Premiership Trophy. The latter had a new look, being staged at Old Trafford for the first time with a double-header format. The new Second Division play-offs final acted as a curtain-raiser to the First Division final.
Old Trafford was also used to stage a Test match for the first time, which attracted a British record 50, for the first Whitbread Trophy encounter between Great Britain and Australia.
Some of that was spent on recruiting Leigh's international winger Des Drummond a month later. The season after saw the introduction of the players' contract system and random drug testing. In November , there was a change at the top. Brian Johnson took over as the new chief. He was an instant success with the fans by leading Wire to almost Challenge Cup semi-final glory over Wigan at Maine Road. Only a yard Joe Lydon drop goal and a late try knocked the stuffing out of Wire.
Two months later the two sides clashed again on neutral soil — this time as a promotional game at the County Stadium, Milwaukee, America. Silverware success came the season after as Wire stormed to glory in the Lancashire Cup final over Oldham — Wire's ninth win on the trot. And better still Johnson secured Warrington their first trip to Wembley for 15 years to face Wigan in the final of the Challenge Cup. Bogy side Wigan secured a victory preventing Wire's GB skipper Mike Gregory from the magic moment of lifting the trophy.
Johnson's first professional Wire signing, Mark Thomas, scored the winning try. Instead, Wire's money was going into their youth policy at Academy level, the new league for 16 to year-olds at professional clubs. Club chairman Peter Higham and his board of directors felt otherwise and their audacious signing of rugby superstar Jonathan Davies — on a free transfer — turned the club around. Cash-hit Widnes had to off-load the Welsh wizard because of his huge contract which Warrington were to finance through a special company sponsorship.
At the end of centre Davies's first season Warrington had missed out on the championship by the narrowest margin of points difference to Wigan and Bradford Northern, attendances had peaked to a year high and Davies had won the Man of Steel and First Division Player of the Year awards. Expectation was high for the season after but Johnson and his team could not find the desired consistency.
Matchwinner Davies damaged his shoulder in Great Britain's first Test defeat of Australia at Wembley and Warrington were lacking without him. Wire did manage to put some form together to reach the final of the Regal Trophy at Huddersfield's new 19, all-seater McAlpine Stadium but they were blasted off the park by the game's dominant force Wigan. Two months later came the news that was to shock the whole of the RL world.
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch announced he was to launch a rebel league in Australia and followed that up with a proposal for a European Super League. With acceptance of the money came the formation of a club Super League, mergers of clubs, inclusion of teams from Paris and Toulouse, a switch to summer rugby and the playing of international football only against other Murdoch-allied countries.
One of the planned mergers was Warrington and Widnes to represent Cheshire and it brought an outcry in both towns from ardent followers of the game. The same situation applied with other planned mergers. The Rugby League were hit by legal action from Keighley Cougars, the Second Division Champions, who had missed out on a place in Super League and anti-merger campaigns continued in the north of England.
Members of Parliament spoke out against the Murdoch Super League deal in a special House of Commons debate and there was high-profile media coverage of the whole issue. That meant that Warrington were in but Widnes were out and the Chemics then launched a High Court battle over their omission. Ironically, the biggest change to Rugby League in its entire history heralded the start of the game's centenary season, the last campaign to be played in winter. It was a season cut short to make way for Super League and it carried a one-month break of action to make way for the Centenary World Cup which was staged in Britain.
Wilderspool played hosts to Tonga and New Zealand for a group game but the Australian Rugby League national team went on to clinch success over England at Wembley. It was a season that never really got going and Warrington had to pay the price for a heavy fixture schedule that saw them play five games in the opening 14 days.
Injuries mounted up and Warrington never really fully recovered. Warrington reached the semi-finals of the Regal Trophy and were paired away to much-improved St. That semi-final turned out to be the blackest day in Warrington's history. No-one could possibly have contemplated the mauling that was Warrington's heaviest defeat. Coach Brian Johnson resigned the morning after and his assistant Clive Griffiths was left to pick up the pieces as caretaker coach for the rest of the league season.
Griffiths, the Wales coach, was overlooked for the top job with Wire raising their profile in the media by landing the double act of Alex Murphy as rugby football executive and John Dorahy as coach rugby football manager. The rebel Australian Super League did not kick off on time after a battle with the Australian Rugby League ended up in court with Super League being ruled unlawful. This was the first season of Super League, with teams from Paris St Germain and London Broncos competing alongside the traditional northern heavyweights of the sport.
The times were changing quickly - and the Super League revolution swept away the sport's traditional winter fixtures, bringing instead a calendar of summer games which would allow the stars to show off their skills in the best possible conditions. They officially appended Wolves to their name in , the second name change in their history; the first occurred at the end of their inaugural season when they dropped Zingari from their title, following the demise of an earlier Warrington club, and bore the town name alone for the next years.
It is my intention to produce a more detailed summary of the highlights, and lowlights, by season to complement the detailed match records once these are loaded to the site. Watch the Latest Updates section for more news on this. Back to top. Formation of Warrington Zingari. In the summer of seven young men decided to form a football team. Based in one of the burgeoning industrial towns of Lancashire in the north-west of England, they followed one of the vogues of the middle Victorian era, when sports team were springing up across the region.
An earlier club had already been formed in Warrington, bearing the town name since , and playing teams from neighbouring towns, so Warrington Zingari was chosen as the name for the newcomers. Although the majority were members of Warrington cricket club, which was formed in the s, there was no official link with the summer pastime. It may have been that winter recreation was being sought after the end of the cricket season, but the Zingarians appear to have been independent from the outset in contrast to some football teams which were formed by cricket clubs to provide players opportunities to play sport after the end of the cricket season.
Although it is often suggested that there was a specific meeting to form the new club, this may be apocryphal; it is likely that the social connections of the founders and the transient nature of organised sport at this rapidly changing time meant that Zingari was a natural evolutionary step borne of recreational desires, rather than an official product created by some Big Bang event [note 3]. Newspaper reports at the time were carried based on the provision of information from club secretaries, at least until teams were well established enough to warrant independent reporting.
As such, it is unclear exactly when the first game of the new club was; the first recorded game though was away at Penketh on 28 October , resulting in a defeat by a goal to nil Penketh also scoring 2 tries and a minor, though only goals counted in scoring at this time. The first win for the fledgling team came in the next recorded match some three weeks later, when victory was secured at Lymm Wanderers by a goal and minor to nil. It was a further two months, on 13 January that another game is reported, which is presumed to be the first recorded home match, played on a ground at Wharf Meadow, where Riverside Retail Park now stands, in the return fixture against Lymm Wanderers.
This match, together with the only other recorded game from the first season, at Flixton on 24 February , resulted in a draw. The founding fathers all featured in these games, with the Wallington brothers, and George Edwards present in all four. Sadly, no scorers are recorded, and we will likely never know who can lay claim to the honour of being the first Warrington scorer.
Not until the Northern Rugby Football Union was formed in did this trend reverse. Zingari become Warrington Football Club. The period was noted for the rapid expansion of towns across the country, and Warrington was no exception. It was usual for clubs to play on available land in close proximity to the urban centres, but as these began to sprawl, securing suitable playing venues was a constant challenge.
With no incumbent bearing the town name alone, at the end of their first season, Zingari dropped the suffix, and henceforth became known as Warrington Football Club. In practice strict adherence to either would not have been necessary anyway, as clubs were not usually members of either organisation at least initially , and matches were not part of any official competition, but ad hoc in nature though usually were arranged prior to commencement of a particular season.
The code of football chosen was often pre-determined by that of local opponents and dominant clubs in the region. Thus the choice of Rugby rather than Association was a given for a Warrington based team, given the preponderance of clubs aligned to the former between the major conurbations of Liverpool and Manchester. Both clubs were prominent in the early years of the RFU, providing international players and RFU presidents, and bordering towns apparently took inspiration from their illustrious big-city neighbours in following their chosen game.
Evidence of early games, players, opponents and locations is fragmentary and often contradictory. The first 10 years or so of the Warrington club are difficult to piece together, but it is clear that gradually the standing of opponents improved, and the prominence of the club rose. Games between the stronger teams were soon attracting crowds of several thousand interested spectators, keen to witness the game first hand, and cheer the locals to victory. These remained challenging times however, not least in terms of securing suitable venues to host the increasingly large number of patrons.
Competitive games are launched. The situation is Lancashire rugby was in stark contrast to the dribbling game in the county, or their Yorkshire counterparts. However, they soon intervened to wrestle back control, and the potential for any cup competition was delayed. The generous points on offer allowed Warrington to rack up a significant margin against their near neighbours, with a victory despite only four of the nine tries, including a hat trick for Jack Massey, being converted.
Fairfield Turner notched another Wire hat-trick, whilst Tommy Barnes weighed in with a brace, to go with his pair of dropped goals.
An impressive crowd of 12, gathered at Widnes confirming the appeal of knockout football. What followed was not to prove a good advert for the sport however. Both sides were reduced to 14 men following a fight between several players, and the scores were locked at 2-all, after the exchange of a couple of minors each, when a Runcorn player went down injured and could not play on. When the referee refused to let the earlier offender return to take his place, the Runcorn captain ordered his players from the field, and the match was abandoned.
The committee of the new union ordered that a replay take place, and on the Wednesday following, just 2, managed to get to Southport to see the Wire secure safe passage to the final, with a win. The bad blood between the clubs over the incident was long lasting, and it was a further six years before they met again. Warrington meanwhile met Aspull in the final on Liverpool College Grounds, at Fairfield, before 6, patrons, as favourites to take the cup home.
At the first attempt the Wire had secured silverware, and with it bragging rights over the local neighbours. In the semi-final a single Tommy Barnes try, together with a couple of minors, was not enough to overcome Wigan, who upset the favourites with a win, and Warrington suffered their first ever competitive defeat. Consequently, Warrington travelled to St Helens on 7 September for their first ever league fixture, in the newly formed West Lancashire League.
They had enough other attractions to keep interest amongst members high though, with tours to South Wales and even overseas, albeit only to the Isle of Man, being undertaken. As if to signal the shifting balance of power, even the great Manchester club saw Warrington at worthy opponents by the Wire secured victory at home, and shared the spoils in the return fixture.
Whole books could be, and of course have been, written about the split in the game of rugby in [note 8]. The final season prior to the breakaway saw farcical scenes in the Lancashire Club Competition. With automatic promotion and relegation, they thus faced dropping down a tier, and potential financial ruin caused by a loss of league fixtures against the other top clubs. Warrington negotiated this minefield, but were amongst the majority of Lancashire clubs who resigned en-masse from the competition in July , clearing the path for a breakaway union.
They were also at the fore of the meetings leading up the decisive final chapter at the George Hotel, and present amongst the clubs voting to leave the RFU, thus becoming founder members of the NRFU. Just two weeks after the momentous decision, Warrington succeeded in defeating Hunslet at Wilderspool in their opening match in the new competition. It was something of a false dawn, as four successive defeats followed, which set the tone for a tough first season; the combination of the top teams in both counties naturally leading to another rise in the standard of opponents.
A 13th place finish in the 22 team league was achieved through 17 wins, 5 draws, and 20 defeats. After only a single season of cross-county competition, the number of clubs electing to leave the RFU and join the rebels meant a restructure was necessary. It was decided to revert back to county based leagues, and Warrington duly lined up in the Lancashire Senior Competition, though again only managed a mid-table finish.
The introduction of the NRFU Challenge Cup in this second breakaway year did at least offer the possibility of competitive fixtures against those of the White Rose county, and in fact saw the Wire fare better than in the league. Ultimately though, it was a trip across the Pennines to Huddersfield, for the semi-final against Batley, that ended this particular campaign, as the Gallant Youths marched on to be the first winners of the famous trophy. Success in the turbulent pre-war era. The competition format remained fluid throughout these first few years of NRFU rule.
As more clubs joined, and the county leagues expanded, it was felt necessary to re-introduce a more localised competition to provide derby opportunities that were sometimes denied by teams playing at different levels. After a drawn match, Warrington felt unable to raise a team for the replay, so forfeited the trophy.
A first trophy in the new era followed the next season though, when the Wire picked up the South West Lancashire League the replacement competition for the SWLBTCC , when a play-off was required to beat Widnes after the teams finished level on points. The feat was repeated just two years later, when Warrington won the first a-side Challenge Cup final against Oldham, Fish again leading the way with a try and four goals.
The start of the First World War did not at first affect competitions, with the decision being taken to carry on as planned, in part due to the mistaken belief that the campaign would be brief. So Close to Glory. The inter-war period was a time of great growth for the game in the town.