St Helens R.F.C.
St Helens Rugby Football Club is a professional rugby league club in St Helens, Merseyside currently competing in the Super League, the top tier of competition for rugby league in Europe. Formed in 1873, St Helens are one of the 22 original members of the Northern Rugby Football Union and have been champions on 13 occasions. St Helens are also the third most successful side in the Challenge Cup with 12 wins in 21 Final appearances, St Helens are founding members of the Super League and are one of only four teams to have appeared in every season since its creation in 1996. Since 1961 the clubs colours have been white, with a red V on the jersey. St Helens play their games at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens, having moved from their previous home, Knowsley Road. St Helens are one of the oldest members of the Rugby Football League, founded as St Helens Football Club on 19 November 1873 at the Fleece Hotel by William Douglas Herman, they played their first ever match on 31 January 1874 against Liverpool Royal Infirmary. They became known as St Helens Rangers up until the 1880s, the club moved from the City Ground in 1890 where they had shared with St Helens Recs when neither were members of the Northern Rugby Football Union. They defeated Manchester Rangers in the first match played at Knowsley Road, in 1895 the club were one of 22 clubs that resigned from the Rugby Football Union and established the Northern Union. The first match of the new code was an 8—3 win at home to Rochdale Hornets before 3,000 spectators and they played in a vertically striped blue and white jersey—a stark contrast to the well known broad red band which would become the kit for the club later. The club reverted to this kit for one season during the rugby league season in 1995. The Challenge Cup was launched in 1897 and it was St Helens who contested its first final with Batley, at Headingley, the Gallant Youths of Batley emerged victorious 10—3, with Dave Red Traynor scoring the lone St Helens try. Between 1897 and 1901, St Helens were not successful, even considered a mid—table side. They finished second to bottom in the 1900—01 Lancashire League season, in the 1901—02 season, however, they did finish third in the Lancashire league. In 1902–03, the combined Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues saw St Helens enter for the first time, St Helens were placed in Division 1 but finished next to bottom and suffered relegation. Promotion was gained at the 1st attempt, only for another year to see them finish once again in a relegation position. However the two Divisions became one League to save the club from a 2nd relegation, on 14 June 1913, St Helens Recs joined the Northern Union after defecting from rugby union and association football. The Recs were based individually at the City Road ground, after previously sharing with St Helens, before their move to Knowsley Road, the Recs played their first game on 6 September 1913. St Helens now had two rugby league teams
The Challenge Cup is a knockout rugby league cup competition organised by the Rugby Football League, held annually since 1896, with the exception of 1915–1919 and 1939–1940. It involves amateur, semi-professional and professional clubs, the final of the Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium, London, is one of the most prestigious matches in world rugby league and is broadcast around the world. Abide with Me, sung before the game, has become a rugby league anthem, the current holders of the Challenge Cup are Hull F. C. who defeated Warrington 12–10 on 27 August 2016 at Wembley Stadium, the very first time they have won at Wembley. Wigan are the most successful club in the history of the competition, the clubs that formed the Northern Union had long been playing in local knock-out cup competitions under the auspices of the Rugby Football Union. However, the rugby union authorities refused to sanction a nationwide tournament, after the schism of 1895, the northern clubs were free to go-ahead, and they instigated the Northern Rugby Football Union Challenge Cup. In 1896 Fattorinis of Bradford were commissioned to manufacture the Challenge Cup at a cost of just £60, Fattorinis also supplied three-guineas winners medals then valued at thirty shillings. The first competition was held during the 1896–97 season, and 56 clubs entered to compete for the trophy, the first final was held at Headingley in Leeds, on 24 April 1897. Batley defeated St. Helens 10–3 in front of a crowd of 13,492 and it is interesting to note that the St Helens side did not play in a standardised team jersey. The competition was interrupted by the Great War, although it was held in 1915. It was then suspended until the end of hostilities, the first final held at Wembley was in 1929 when Wigan beat Dewsbury 13–2 in front of a crowd of 41,500. The Challenge Cup finals, which place in the game’s Northern heartland, got big crowds as the game raised money for prisoners of war. In 1946, the Lance Todd Trophy was introduced and awarded to the man of the match, the first winner was Billy Stott of Wakefield Trinity the first winner of the trophy on the losing team was Frank Whitcombe of Bradford Northern in 1948. In itself, it is a trophy presented only at the Challenge Cup Final. The winner is selected by the members of the Rugby League Writers Association present at the game and the trophy was presented at a dinner at the Willows. 1954 saw the Challenge Cup final drawn and the set the record for a rugby league match attendance. The match was on 5 May and 102,569 was the attendance at Odsal Stadium. Wigan are well known for their successes in the Challenge Cup competition, until the 1993–94 season there were very few amateur clubs included in the cup, typically two. For part of the 1980s, and the 1992–93 season the cup was solely for professional clubs, in 1997, a Challenge Cup Plate took place for teams knocked out in the early rounds of the competition
Batley Bulldogs R. L. F. C. are an English professional rugby league club in Batley, West Yorkshire who play in the Kingstone Press Championship. Batley were one of the original twenty-two rugby football clubs formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. They were League Champions in 1924 and have won three Challenge Cups, Batley Cricket Club decided to have a rugby football side merge with them at their ground under the name Batley Cricket Athletic and Football Club. Both sides claimed victory but the club chose Batley Athletic to join them. The new clubs first game was at home against Bradford Zingari which they won by 2 goals,3 touchdowns,2 dead balls, jacob Parker scored the first touchdown. The first season finished with Batley having won 15 games and drawn 5 out of 26 matches played, Batley were one of the original twenty-two clubs that met at the George Hotel, Huddersfield on 29 August 1895 and formed the Northern Rugby Football Union. Batley’s first match under the new union was on 7 September 1895 against Hull F. C. at Mount Pleasant with Batley winning 7 –3, sixth in the Yorkshire Senior Competition of 1896/97, they battled their way to third spot come the end of the next season. Where knock-out competitions was concerned, they were peerless, in 1897, the Gallant Youths became the first winners of the Challenge Cup beating St. Helens 10-3, in front of a crowd of 13,492 at Headingley. Batley retained the trophy by beating Bradford Northern on the weekend the following year at Headingley in front of 27,941 spectators. The club were Yorkshire League winners in 1898/99 and in 1900/01 won the Challenge Cup for the third and last time to date, wharton Wattie Davies set club records for most appearance, goals and points between 1896-1912. Batleys next cup triumph came on 23 November 1912 when Hull were defeated 17–3 at Headingley in Batley’s one, the Gallant Youths reached the semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup and led the league in November 1923. Batley were crowned champions on Saturday 3 May 1924, lifting the Rugby League Championship Trophy for the time in the club’s history. The club were also Yorkshire League winners that season, the record attendance was set at 23,989 for the visit of Leeds for a third round Challenge Cup match on 14 March 1925. 1952 saw a Yorkshire Cup final appearance against Huddersfield on 15 November, the clubs name was changed from Batley Cricket, Athletic & Football Club Ltd to its present official name of Batley Football Club Ltd in June 1979. The club celebrated its centenary in 1981 with a win over the leagues new London team, Fulham, in the 1960s the league was restructured into two divisions for two seasons before the single-division format was finally ditched in 1973. Batley are one of only a few teams never to make it into the top flight, the local council suggested that Dewsbury and Batley ground share at Crown Flatt after refusing a grant towards safety repairs to Mount Pleasant in February 1987. Batley looked set to join the elite in 1995 when they held off Huddersfield to finish in second place, the club succeeded in winning the Second Division Championship in the 1994–95 season. However, when the Super League was created for the following year, the club estimated that the decision cost them around £500,000
Swinton Lions R. L. F. C. are an English professional rugby league club from Swinton near Manchester. The club has won the Championship six times and three Challenge Cups, from 2016, Swinton Lions will compete in the Kingstone Press Championship, the second tier of European rugby league, after winning promotion from League 1. Prior to the 1996 season, the club was simply as Swinton R. L. F. C. The club was formed on Saturday,20 October 1866 when members of Swinton Cricket Club decided to take up football in the winter to keep fit. Other than a challenge against the local Lancashire Rifle Volunteers. In 1871 they joined the Rugby Football Union, under the name Swinton and their first game was against Eccles Standard, within 4 or 5 years the team became virtually unbeatable in the Manchester area and beyond. This rise in stature was surprising because Swinton and Pendlebury, at time, were nothing more than tiny colliery villages with a few cotton mills. However, it also had a number of local junior teams from which the club drew its talent. They moved from playing at a field in the Station Road area in 1873 to a known as Stoneacre. They have been known as the Lions ever since, having gone three years undefeated in the mid-1870s, the Lions gradually sought a tougher fixture list. In 1878 came the clubs first ventures into Yorkshire, and fairly soon the club was travelling throughout England taking on opponents as Oxford University, such was the Lions success that by the mid-1880s Swinton had become recognised as a national force and were considered the strongest team in Lancashire. The first rugby match under floodlights took place in Salford, between Broughton and Swinton on 22 October 1878, in 1886, they moved to Chorley Road, enabling the club to develop further. The new ground could accommodate larger crowds and the staging of County matches added to Swintons growing reputation. The Lions produced several England internationals and dozens more who gained representative recognition wearing the red rose of Lancashire, the Northern Union was then split into two county leagues, Lancashire and Yorkshire. In 1900, led by Jim Valentine, they won the Rugby League Challenge Cup defeating Salford at Fallowfield, on Saturday 8 September 1906, Swinton hosted a Pontefract team who arrived with only 12 players. The Lions scored 18 tries in a club record 76–4 victory and this record would stand for ninety years but three months later when the Lions visited Pontefract they lost 5–0. The period leading up to the Great War was not particularly auspicious for the Lions, financial crisis followed financial crisis and only the sale of the main stand saved the club from closure during 1917. The war took the lives of 13 Swinton players, but back home the Lions played on throughout in a attempt to stay afloat
Widnes Vikings R. L. F. C. is an English professional rugby league club based in Widnes, Cheshire which currently plays in the Super League, the top tier of European rugby league. The club plays its matches at the Select Security Stadium. Founded as Widnes Football Club, they are one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. The club enjoyed a period of success in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, in 1989, after winning their third Rugby League Championship, Widnes became the first official World Club Champions by beating the Australian champions Canberra Raiders 30-18 at Old Trafford. Their traditional nickname is The Chemics after the industry in Widnes. They have a local rivalry with Warrington Wolves. The Farnworth & Appleton Cricket Club was formed in 1871 and four years later the members decided to embrace the burgeoning football code, the first known game for the new Farnworth and Appleton FC was in Widnes in January 1876 played under rugby rules against Northwich Victoria. A few weeks later a match was played at Drill Field. These are the two known fixtures in that truncated first season. By May 1876 the club had changed its name to Widnes FC, by the late 1870s the club was being referred to as The Chemicals—subsequently shortened to The Chemics. The first ground was on Albert Road behind what is now the Premier Wetherspoons pub, from around 1878–84 the club were based at the junction of Millfield/Peelhouse Lane, apart from season 1880–81 when they played on the Widnes Cricket Club ground at Lowerhouse Lane. From 1884–95 they rented a field at Lowerhouse Lane before moving to their third separate site on that road in October 1895, the first ever game at what later became Naughton Park was against Liversedge on Saturday 12 October 1895. In 1895, Widnes were founder members of the Northern Union which broke away from the Rugby Football Union and their first game was an away fixture against Runcorn which they lost 15–4. During the early years, the club often had to sell players to balance the books, the strength of junior rugby league in the area meant the club had a steady stream of new players to offset any losses. In 1902, the Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues were combined to form a second division and he scored an extraordinary try to win the game, dribbling the ball from inside his own half. Thirteen Widnes players were killed during the conflict, the clubs first ever success came when they won the Lancashire League trophy in the 1919–20 season. However, the 1920s saw the club almost go to the wall, local rivals Warrington donated their share of the traditional Easter and Christmas derby matches to keep Widnes afloat in 1927–28. In 1930, Widnes with 12 local-born players defied the odds to beat St. Helens 10–3 to bring home the Challenge Cup, the Kingsway housing scheme threatened the loss of Widnes ground
Salford Red Devils
Salford Red Devils R. L. F. C. is a professional rugby league club in Salford, Greater Manchester, England, who play in the Super League. Formed in 1873, they have won six Championships and one Challenge Cup and their home ground since 2012 has been the AJ Bell Stadium in Barton-upon-Irwell, before which they played at the Willows in Weaste. Before 1995, the club was simply as Salford, from 1995-98 Salford Reds. On a 1934 tour to France, the described the team as playing like devils. The club was founded in 1873 by the boys of the Cavendish Street Chapel in Hulme, using a local field, the boys organised matches amongst themselves before moving to nearby Moss Side. In an attempt to recruit new members, the link with the school was broken in 1875 and they moved to a new base on the Salford side of the River Irwell at Throstle Nest Weir in Ordsall. Two seasons later, they moved again to the west side of Trafford Road to a known as the Mile Field where they spent the 1877–78 season. Their next home was a north of the former Manchester Racecourse. Their first season there, 1878–79, was the last to be played under the Cavendish name, Cavendish became Salford Football Club in 1879. The first match as Salford was at Dewsbury on 4 October 1879, the following week heralded the first home match at New Barnes against Widnes, on 11 October 1879. The result was a draw with one try each, Salford struggled to attract support as there were few local players in the team. In 1881, they almost disbanded but instead merged with the Crescent Football Club, since the 1881 merger, only 62 matches were lost from 263 played in the remaining nine years of the decade. In 1889, Salford moved their headquarters to the nearby London, Salford switched from their traditional amber, black and scarlet hoops to red jerseys. The club became the first side to win the Lancashire League in 1892–93, only three members opposed the motion. Salford were admitted to the Northern Union on 2 June 1896 and their first competitive Northern Union match was on Saturday,5 September 1896, with a visit to Widnes. The Reds, competing in the Lancashire Senior Competition, lost 10–0 and their form improved and they finished third place in 1898–99. In 1900, Salford met old local rivals, Swinton, in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Fallowfield, after a keenly fought contest, the result was a 16–8 win for Swinton. In 1900, Salford received notice to vacate New Barnes as the Manchester Ship Canal Company had purchased the land, Salford agreed a 14-year lease on 5 acres of land belonging to the Willows Estate Company, named after the abundance of willow trees in the area