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
The Rochdale Hornets are one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the worlds first rugby league clubs. Their main local rivals are Oldham Roughyeds, Salford City Reds, a Rochdale Athletic Club was formed in 1866 and held its first festival on the cricket ground at Merefield. Rugby football first took place as a game about 1866 or 1867. Within a year they were all playing alongside new members when working class men were allowed to join as well, other clubs quickly followed, among them Rochdale Wasps and Rochdale Juniors. In 1871, Rochdale Juniors and Rakebank merged to form Rochdale United, on 20 April 1871, the directors of Rochdale Wasps, Rochdale United and Rochdale Football Club met at the Roebuck Hotel in the town centre to form a senior team that would represent the town. Rochdale Butterflies and Rochdale Grasshoppers were suggested as names for the new club before Rochdale Hornets was agreed on, the original team colours were amber and black. In 1875, Hornets played at Mr R. Kershaws Athletic Grounds in Vavasour Street, the club very quickly took a leading position in the game in Lancashire. Hornets had an open approach to membership and were able to insist on gate money as they played on an enclosed field. In June 1879, Rochdale Rovers threw in their lot with the Hornets, a ground was taken at Oakenrod for the 1879–80 season but owing to poor gates, Rochdale Hornets returned to Rochdale Cricket Club ground. In 1881 no fewer than 57 rugby clubs played in Rochdale and district, by the 1890s, the players were almost all working class. Rochdale moved to the Athletic Grounds in Milnrow Road, which opened on 9 June 1894 and their first game at their new home took place in September 1894 against Crompton. They were founder members of the Northern Union in 1895, Hornets made a poor start under the new regime and finished bottom of the league table, for a good number of years they lost many more matches than they won. They became tenants of the Athletics Grounds in 1900, between the 7–9 March 1901, a three-day bazaar was held at the town hall where around £1,000 was raised to help pay for the clubs debts. Incidents from the played on 22 March 1901 resulted in the ground being suspended by the Northern Union. The players went on strike on 29 March 1902 as empty coffers meant that they went unpaid, Rochdale Hornets then refused to travel to Dewsbury on 1 October 1904 on account of a smallpox outbreak, and were subsequently fined £20. Rochdale purchased the Athletics Grounds in 1913, Hornets won the Lancashire County Cup in 1911 and 1914. Between 10 October 1914 and 6 March 1915, Hornets played 25 games without defeat, shortly after this streak was broken by a defeat to Wigan, Hornets beat Broughton Moor 75–13 in a cup-tie on 13 March 1915, it was their biggest margin of victory since 1871. Twenty-five Rochdale players enlisted for the First World War, one of whom, Rugby League came back to Rochdale following the Great War on Christmas Day 1918 when Rochdale played a friendly game
Halifax R. L. F. C. is a semi-professional rugby league club in Halifax, West Yorkshire, which formed in 1873. Halifax were one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. They have been Rugby League Champions four times and have won the Challenge Cup five times and they have rivalries with neighbours Bradford and Huddersfield and with fellow Championship side Featherstone Rovers. Known as Fax, the colours are blue and white hoops, white shorts and blue. They share the Shay stadium with the football club, Halifax Town. The club was founded as Halifax in 1873, after winning the first Yorkshire Cup in 1878, they went on to win it on another four occasions. Several players were picked for the Yorkshire County side in these years, in 1886, the club moved to Thrum Hall, which would be their home ground for the next 112 years. The first game there was played on 18 September 1886 against Hull F. C. Halifax were founding members of the breakaway Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. In 1896, Halifax lost out on winning the first ever Rugby Football League Championship by a single point, in 1902–03, they achieved the double by winning the Challenge Cup and finishing top of Division One. They won the cup again the season, and were the first ever Championship play-off winners in 1906–07. Halifax won their first Wembley Challenge Cup final in 1931, beating York 22–8, an estimated 100,000 people lined the route to a civic reception at the town hall. Towards the end of the 1937 season, Streatham and Mitcham folded after just one season in the league. The club had made a number of signings from the New Zealand All Blacks, including George Nepia and Charles Smith. In 1938, Halifax reached the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, in 1939, Halifax became the last team to win the Challenge Cup final before the war. Favourites Salford were beaten 20–3 in front of a record 55,453 spectators, in 1947 Halifaxs Hudson Irving died from a heart attack while playing at Dewsbury. In 1949, Halifaxs David Craven died after breaking his neck playing against Workington Town, the 1949 Challenge Cup final was sold out for first time as 95,050 spectators saw Bradford Northern beat Halifax. In the 1950s, Halifax were Championship runners-up three times, beat Hull F. C. in Yorkshire Cup finals in 1954 and 1955, Halifax were unbeaten at their home ground of Thrum Hall between December 1952 and November 1956. After securing a Yorkshire league and cup double in 1955–56, the club was in sight of winning All Four Cups, Wembley was reached after a 11–10 Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Wigan at Odsal and Halifax beat St. Helens 23–8 in the Championship semi-final
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
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