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 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 split into two county leagues 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 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
Wigan Warriors R. L. F. C. is a professional rugby league club based in Wigan, Greater Manchester, England. The club competes in the Super League and are the current Super League Champions. formed in 1872 as Wigan Football Club, they are a founding member of the Northern Rugby Football Union following the schism from the Rugby Football Union in 1895. Wigan have won 21 League Championships,19 Challenge Cups and 4 World Club Challenge trophies, the club is the all-time most successful club in English rugby league. Wigan had a period of sustained success from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, winning the Challenge Cup eight seasons in succession, the club plays its home matches at the DW Stadium, having played at Central Park between 1902 and 1999. The current head coach is Shaun Wane, the captain is Sean OLoughlin. On 21 November 1872, Wigan Football Club was founded by members of Wigan Cricket Club following a meeting at the Royal Hotel, Wigan F. C. played on Folly Field, near Upper Dicconson Street.
The first match took place on 30 November when members played against each other in a match at Folly Field. After a series of trial and practice matches, they travelled to Warrington to play their first competitive match on 18 January 1873, the game ended in a draw. Financial problems and an inability to recruit quality players led to the club amalgamating with Upholland F. C. in 1876, the club became Wigan & District F. C. The club moved and played its games at the Wigan Cricket Club at Prescott Street just off Frog Lane. It is unlikely that the club fulfilled its fixtures in 1877 before finally disbanding at the end of the 1879 cricket season. On 22 September 1879, the club was reformed as Wigan Wasps by many ex-members of the original Wigan Football Club, the club moved away from Prescott Street back to Folly Field. In 1884, Wigan won its first trophy, the West Lancashire Cup, the club initially played in blue and white hooped jerseys before changing in 1886 to cherry and white hoops. In 1888 they hosted and beat a touring New Zealand side, Wigan were suspended by the RFU for breaking the strict amateur code despite their argument that broken-time payments were necessary to avoid undue hardship for their working class players.
In 1895 Wigan joined with other clubs from Yorkshire and Lancashire to found the Northern Union which led eventually to the sport of rugby league and this was a result of the breakaway from the Rugby Football Union. This was when the Wasps tag was dropped and the club became known as Wigan. The County Championship was introduced in October 1895 with Cheshire entertaining Lancashire, the Red Rose side contained three players from Wigan and Unsworth and Brown. In 1896–97 due to the number of Northern Union teams the Northern League was abandoned in favour of two County Senior leagues
Workington Town R. L. F. C. is a semi-professional rugby league club playing in Workington in west Cumbria. In the 2017 season they play in League 1, having been relegated from the Kingstone Press Championship. Their stadium is called the Derwent Park, which share with Workington Comets. They became Rugby League Champions in 1951 and won the Challenge Cup a year in 1952 and their nickname is simply Town, though they are sometimes referred to as Worky by fans of other teams. Their local rivals are Whitehaven, who joined the three years after Workington Town. Workington Town RLFC was formed at a meeting held in the Royal Oak Hotel, many of Workington Towns board came from local soccer team Workington AFCs board and the team would ground share with the Reds at Borough Park. It was decided at the meeting that the club should be registered as a business, from those in attendance at that meeting the first board of directors was formed and the application for membership was agreed at a meeting held on 23 January 1945 at the Grosvenor Hotel, Manchester.
They were the first side from Cumberland to enter the professional rugby league and they first played their home games, wearing green and red hoops, at Borough Park. The first match against Broughton Rangers on Saturday 25 August 1945 attracted a crowd of 4,100 to Borough Park, Workington went on to win 27–5. In their first season, they achieved the distinction of losing to a side, Sharlston Rovers in the first round of the Challenge Cup. In his eight years at the club, he made them into a capable of beating Wigan or anyone else in the league. There was a club record 20,403 for the third round Cup game against St. Helens, Town finished 3rd of 29 clubs but had a tough draw, the only Yorkshire teams they played were Bradford, Halifax and York. They played these five home and away as well as all the teams from Lancashire, the following season they beat Featherstone Rovers 18–10 in front of a crowd of 72,093 at Wembley Stadium to become Challenge Cup winners, this was the first final to be televised.
No other club, before or after, has lifted both these trophies within such a period of their formation. But it did not stop there, during the 1954–55 season, Workington Town made it to the Challenge Cup final but were beaten 21–12 by Barrow and they moved out of Borough Park in 1956. Workington Town lost in the 1958 Challenge Cup final to Wigan and one later, they lost in the Championship final at Odsal Stadium. With two minutes remaining, Syd Lowdon dropped a goal to earn Workington a 9–9 draw, in the month Workington won the replay 10–0. The record attendance at Derwent Park was set in 1965 when 17,741 spectators turned up for a third round Challenge Cup match against Wigan, Paul Charlton took over as player-coach in 1975 and guided them to promotion
Castleford Tigers R. L. F. C. are an English rugby league club in Castleford, West Yorkshire, that plays in Super League. Formed in 1926, the club were members of the Super League in 1996 and have won the Challenge Cup four times. Their most recent major trophy was the 1994 Regal Trophy, Castleford have a rivalry with neighbours Featherstone Rovers, Wakefield Trinity and Leeds. The club have played at Wheldon Road in Castleford, since 1927 and their home colours are black and orange. Castleford RFC joined the Northern Rugby Football Union for the 1896–97 season, its second, not much is known about the original Castleford club, except that they have no connection with the present Castleford Tigers RLFC. Castleford joined the league for the 1926–27 season, many official records state that they were founded at this time but they had played successfully in the lower Yorkshire County Cup for several years before this date. They actually joined the League code around 1920 and played in early years at the Sandy Desert ground.
The club went professional in 1926 and moved to their current home ground on Wheldon Road in 1926. The club soon started to make a mark on northern rugby, winning their first major trophy when they topped the Yorkshire League in 1932, in 1938, they made it to the Championship finals, but failed to take the cup. The Second World War meant the league was suspended soon after, Castleford finished fourth in the national league in the 1962/63 season. Castleford picked up where left off when they were again beaten in the Championship finals in 1969. However, this seemed to spur the team on, and 1969 and 1970 saw Castleford win the Challenge Cup for two consecutive years, with clubs legends Alan Hardisty and Keith Hepworth leading the team. John Sheridan was appointed coach in 1973 for a spell. Castlefords finished a respectable ninth in a table but Sheridan stepped down following criticism from fans. During the late 1970s Castleford edged up the league, and in 1986 they made it to the Premiership final and they finished consistently high over the next few years, and finished in the top four clubs in the Championship for four years during 1990–1995.
Darryl van der Velde took Castleford to the Challenge Cup final Wembley where they were defeated by Wigan in 1992, a year later, Darryl van der Velde left to become chief executive of the South Queensland Crushers, he was succeeded by his assistant John Joyner. Through the Darryl van der Velde and early Joyner years Castleford were lauded for there style and were labelled Classy Cas and this enjoyable playing style was to come to fruition most spectacularly in 1994, when Castleford were dominating the league. As well as defeating legendary Wigan team to take the Regal Trophy 33–2 and that season John Joyner, was named Coach-of-the-Year by the RFL
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 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
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 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 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
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 supplied three-guineas winners medals 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 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
Hull Kingston Rovers
Hull Kingston Rovers R. F. C. are a professional rugby league club in Hull, formed in 1882. They were relegated from Super League to the Championship in the 2016 Million Pound Game, Hull Kingston Rovers are one of two professional rugby league teams in Hull. Hull F. C. play on the west side of the city, the River Hull is the divide between the two. Hull KRs nickname, the Robins, originates from their playing colours of red. Hull Kingston Rovers began in 1882 when a group of apprentice boilermakers in the Hessle Road area of Hull came together to start a team, Kingston Amateurs. Their first ground was a piece of wasteland in Albert Street, by 1885 Kingston Amateurs had played at three grounds, Albert Street, Anlaby Road and finally Chalk Lane. The club name was changed to Kingston Rovers as they entered the Times Cup in the 1885–86 season. A number of joined the league and the club entered the new Hull and District Rugby Union Cup. The club won its first trophy in the 1887–88 season by winning the Times Cup, the Rovers moved to their fourth ground, down Hessle Road.
In 1888–89,6,000 fans turned up to the cup game against Hull A at the Holderness Road ground, Rovers went through the next season losing just two games, defeating Britannia in the Times Cup final. Rovers beat Hull A for the first time in 1889–90, and moved to their fifth ground, the Red and Whites won the Times Cup for the third year running in 1891–92 beating York A in the final. 1892 saw Rovers play at the Boulevard for the first time, only one away win was recorded this season and six home wins, but Rovers entered the Yorkshire Cup for the first time although they were knocked out by Dewsbury in the second round. In 1893 Rovers played out of the Boulevard, and they lost to Bradford Northern that season in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup. Amos Law, a drop kicker joined the club from Cleckheaton and Huddersfield, while George William Lofthouse played at the age of 14, the youngest ever player to turn out for the senior side. In 1895 the Northern Football Union was founded, when the rugby union sides in the North of England broke away to form a league of their own.
Rovers, nicknamed the redbreasts did not join the new organisation and were promoted to the second division of the RFU finishing joint second. They moved to their first ground in East Hull in Craven Street off Holderness Road, in 1896–97, they were denied a place in the first division when several sides resigned but when the West Riding club dropped out, Rovers moved up. Hull KR amalgamated their resources with Albany Soccer Club, Rovers won the Yorkshire Cup for the first time beating Shipley 11–5 in the final
Founded in 1973 as New Hunslet, a replacement for the original Hunslet F. C. they became Hunslet in 1979 and played as Hunslet Hawks between 1995 and 2016. In July 1973, the original Hunslet club was wound up because no new location could be found that was financially viable. The £300,000 proceeds of the sale of Parkside were distributed to shareholders, the resurrected club had a new badge depicting a rising phoenix to symbolise their rebirth. The stay at the stadium was cut short when the owners closed the ground. In 1978, coach Bill Ramsey put a lot of pressure on the RFL, the club reverted to Hunslet for the 1979–80 season. After leaving Elland Road, Hunslet had a spell at Bramley. On 19 November 1995, the club, now known as Hunslet Hawks, moved to the South Leeds Stadium, on that day, Leigh were the guests at Hunslets first home game for twenty-two years. They narrowly missed out on promotion from Division Two in 1996, coach Steve Ferres left to join Huddersfield and David Plange took over as player-coach.
In 1997 the Hawks played in the first Challenge Cup Plate Final losing 60-14 to Hull Kingston Rovers and it was the Hawks first appearance at Wembley Stadium since 1965. Also in 1997, the Hawks were promoted to the First Division as champions, in 1999 as a possible merger between Hunslet and Bramley was debated. In 1999 Hunslet won the Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final against Dewsbury, 12–11, after that game the Hawks were denied entry to Super League by the Rugby Football League who cited a document called Framing the Future as justification. This caused a number of players to leave the club and for the attendance to fall by more than 1,200 to 800. A link-up with Leeds Rhinos saw Plange go to Headingley as Academy coach, Paul March was the player/coach at Hunslet, joining midway through the 2009 season following the resignation of Graeme Hallas. March guided Hunslet to a 6th-place finish and a spot in Championship 1. Hunslet travelled to Blackpool in the first week of the winning, 18–21, to set up an elimination semi-final against Oldham in which Hunslet were comfortably beaten.
In 2010 Paul March led Hunslet to their first silverware for over 11 years by securing the Co-operative Championship 1 title, in 2012, Barry Eaton took over as coach. In 2014 Hunslet won the Grand Final after extra time against Oldham, Barry Eaton left in late January 2016 to join Leeds Rhinos and was replaced by his assistant coach and former Hunslet Hawks player Matt Bramald. Bramald left the club at the end of the 2016 season having completed his contract and he was replaced by former Hunslet player James Coyle
Northern England or the North of England, known as the North Country or simply the North, is the northern part of England, when considered as a single cultural area. The area roughly spans from the River Trent and River Dee to the Scottish border in the north, Northern England roughly comprises three statistical regions, the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. These have a population of around 14.9 million as of the 2011 Census. The region has been controlled by groups from the Brigantes. After the Norman conquest in 1066, the Harrying of the North brought destruction, a Council of the North was in place during the Late Middle Ages until the Commonwealth after the Civil War. The area experienced Anglo–Scottish border fighting until the unification of Britain under the Stuarts, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the economy of the North was dominated by heavy industry such as weaving, shipbuilding and mining. The deindustrialisation that followed in the half of the 20th century hit Northern England hard.
For government and statistical purposes, Northern England is defined as the covered by the three statistical regions of North East England, North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber. This definition will be used in article, except when otherwise stated. Using historic county boundaries, the North is generally taken to comprise Cumberland, Westmorland, County Durham and Yorkshire, the Isle of Man is occasionally included in definitions of the North, although it is politically and culturally distinct from England. Additionally, some areas of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have been associated with the North. The geographer Danny Dorling includes most of the West Midlands and part of the East Midlands in his definition of the North, more restrictive definitions exist, typically based on the extent of the historical Northumbria, which exclude Cheshire and Lincolnshire. Personal definitions of the North vary greatly and are sometimes passionately debated, when asked to draw a dividing line between North and South, Southerners tend to draw this line further south than Northerners do.
Various towns have been described as or promoted themselves as the gateway to the North, including Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, through the North of England run the Pennines, an upland chain often referred to as the backbone of England. This stretches from the Cheviot Hills on the border with Scotland to the Peak District, the geography of the North has been heavily shaped by the ice sheets of the Pleistocene era, which often reached as far south as the Midlands. On the other side of the Pennines, a glacial lake forms the Humberhead Levels, a large area of fenland which drains into the Humber. This has left the North a region of contrasts, the Lake District includes Englands highest peak, Scafell Pike, which rises to 978 m, its largest lake and its deepest lake, Wastwater. However, dense areas have emerged along the coasts and rivers