Warrington Wolves


Warrington Wolves

Infobox rugby league team
clubname = Warrington Wolves


fullname = Warrington Wolves Rugby League Football Club
nickname = The Wire, The Wolves
founded = 1879
league = Super League (Europe)
ground = Halliwell Jones Stadium
location = Warrington, Cheshire
capacity = 14,206
coach = James Lowes
captain = Adrian Morley
chairman = Lord Doug Hoyle of Warrington
leaguewins = 3
clubchallenge =
challengecups = 5
website = http://www.warringtonwolves.com/

Warrington is a professional rugby league club in the town of Warrington, Cheshire in England. In the past the club have been nicknamed "The Wire" or "Wires", in reference to the strength of the wire-pulling industry in Warrington. Warrington is also one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world's first rugby league teams.

Their colours are primrose (light yellow) and blue, though white has often featured on the home shirt.

They previously played at the traditional ground of Wilderspool, but have since moved to the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Warrington are currently in the top flight of rugby league, the Super League. Warrington have never won the Super League trophy, though they have won many major trophies in their long history. They are the only club in the history of the sport in England to play every one of their seasons in the top flight.

History

Early years

Although the official foundation date for the club is given as 1879, (rugby) football was certainly played in the town before that date and there was an earlier club bearing the same name.

Under the heading 'Outdoor Sports - Football' the Widnes Guardian of January 25, 1873 reports on a recent game between Warrington and Wigan at the (unnamed) ground of the former. On 6 December, 1873 that same newspaper carried details of a local derby between Warrington and Zingari and in subsequent weeks there were matches with Sale and Free Wanderers. Because surviving records from that era are fragmentary it is not possible to say with certainty what became of this Warrington club.

Warrington Zingari was founded in 1879 by Timothy Grix of Chatburn. The committee of the newly formed club managed to get the use of a field fronting Sankey Street. The headquarters of the club were at the White Hart Hotel in Sankey Street. The first match was away game against the Walton side played at Rice Field in Liverpool on the 18th October 1879. Walton won by three goals to nil.

The first home game at Sankey Street for the club was against Oughtrington, with Warrington gaining their first victory by three goals to one. In their first season Warrington played 11 games, won 7, lost 2 and drew 2. A year later, The Warrington Guardian purchased the land in Sankey Street for its new offices and the club was forced to move to a new pitch at Wilderspool.

Another local club, Padgate Excelsior amalgamated with Warrington in 1881-1882 to form a representative town side. After one season at Wilderspool Road, the club obtained another field at Slutchers Lane. A year later, Warrington moved back to Sankey Street to play in a field behind the town's post office.

In 1883-1884, they moved for the fourth time, this time back to Wilderspool Road, the new pitch being just a short distance from the previous ground. In 1884-1885, Warrington were strengthened again when the club Warrington Wanderers joined the town side.

In 1886, the club won its first silverware, the South West Lancashire and Border Towns Trophy. On August 28th 1895, the Committee decided to join with 21 other clubs throughout Lancashire and Yorkshire to form a new 'Northern Union' and resigned from the RFU.

In 1900-1901, Warrington reached the final of the Challenge Cup, facing Batley. A crowd of 29,000 turned out at Leeds to see Warrington battle hard but be beaten by two tries to nil. Warrington also appeared in the renamed South West Lancashire Cup against Leigh two days later. The strenuous game against Batley took its toll on the Warrington players and the match ended in a 0-0 draw, the replay never took place.

In 1903-1904, Warrington defeated Bradford Northern in a semi-final replay to earn a place in the final of the Challenge Cup. Warrington put up a fine performance against Halifax but lost 8-3. In 1904/05, Warrington beat Hull Kingston Rovers 6-0 to win the Challenge Cup final in front of a crowd of 19,638.

Post World War One

After a bad start to the 1921-22 season, Warrington won 12 out of 13 matches. This included an 8-5 victory over the touring Australian team. Warrington beat St. Helens Recs. and Leigh to reach the final of the Lancashire Cup. Wire beat Oldham 7-5, despite playing with only 12 men for most of the match after centre Collins sustained a broken collar bone.

After a bad start to the 1927-28 current and a poor previous season Warrington notched up victories over Hull Kingston Rovers, Huddersfield and finally Leeds in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup. The final against Swinton was played in Wigan, with an estimated 12,000 travelling from the town to watch the match. Warrington were beaten 5-3, but a contentious decision could have cost the Wire the match.

The Kangaroos visited Wilderspool again in 1929 or 1930, Wire were without five regular players either playing for Lancashire or injured. Despite this, Warrington beat the tourists 17-8.

In 1932-33, the Lancashire Cup was won by beating St Helens in close fought match, the final result being 10-9 to Warrington. St. Helens Recs. and Wigan were disposed of on the way that particular victory. As well as doing well in the league the team had reached the Challenge Cup final for the seventh time. The was the first time Warrington had been played at Wemberley. The Wire lost 21-17 to Huddersfield.

In the 1933-34 season, Warrington played Australia and for once were beaten. Warrington also had the honour of playing the first rugby league match against a French side, captained by Jean Galia. In a season of firsts a match was played in Dublin to introduce the game to Ireland. A good crowd saw Wigan beat Warrington by 32-19.

The highlight of the 1935-36 season was a place in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley. Barrow were beaten in the first round, the second round was drawn away at Halifax with Warrington winning the replay at Wilderpool 18-15. Wigan were then beaten 5-2 to set up a semi-final against Salford at Wigan. Warrington was short of regular players and were thought to stand little chance, but as ever in they rose to the occasion to gain victory. Fifteen special trains were laid on as the town made its way to London for the final, however Leeds ran out 18-2 winners.

In the 1937-38 season, Oldham and Widnes were both knocked out by Warrington as they headed for another Lancashire Cup victory, this time 8-5 over Barrow.

During World War Two, it was difficult to play matches and therefore pay the bills. To help out the club committee decided that a Limited Company of 10,000 £1 shares was to be created. The Warrington Football Club Limited was born. Warrington dropped out of the wartime Lancashire league in 1941-42 and did not return to league competition until 1945-46.

Post World War Two

The early post-war years saw a boom in rugby league in general, and the glory years of the Warrington club. A winger named Brian Bevan made his debut for Warrington in 1945. Warrington made it to the 1956 Championship final held at Maine Road but lost to Workington Town.

With other stars such as Harry Bath and Gerry Helme, the Wire won all the code's major honours, including the League Championship for the only times in their history in 1947/48, 1953/54 and 1954/55.

Warrington defeated Huddersfield in the 1947-48 league semi-final. The final, against Bradford Northern, was staged at Maine Road and Warrington took the trophy by a margin of 17 to 5.

Warrington reached the 1948-49 Lancashire Cup final, Wigan took the trophy. In the league Warrington lost only five matches all season. Huddersfield exacted one of Wire's few defeats in the play-off final. The record attendance at Wilderspool was set in 1949 when 34,304 spectators saw Warrington play Wigan.

Another good cup run took the Wire to the 1950 Challenge Cup final. This time they were to play local rivals Widnes. They led 14-nil at half time, eventually taking the trophy by 19 points to nil.

In 1951/52 Ces Mountford was appointed coach with a ten-year contract.

Warrington did well in the league in 1953-54 and made it to the top four play-off. St. Helens came to Wilderspool and were well beaten 11-5. They despatched Leeds in the Challenge Cup to get to their second final of the season, they were to play Halifax in both games. The intense Wembley final ended in a draw, two goals a piece. The replay was held at Odsal and a record 102,569 paid to see Warrington defeat Halifax 8-4. Thousands more got in for free and estimates of the total crowd were in the region of 120-130,000.

The week after the two teams met again in the League Cup, at Maine Road, Manchester. Warrington secured another victory by four goals to Halifax’s two goals and a try. The club had done the League and Cup double to add to the Lancashire Cup they had already won.

In 1954 in the Challenge Cup final replay at Odsal, Bradford, but the Wire beat Halifax in the semi-final of the 1954-55 League Cup passing the way to the final against Oldham at Maine Road. For the second consecutive season Warrington took the honours, the final score was 7-3.

The 1955-56 season saw a tournament titled the ITV Floodlit Competition. Eight clubs participated in a series of games played at football grounds in the London area, with Warrington eventually running out 43-18 victors over Leigh at Loftus Road.

On January 19th, 1957, Warrington launched a lottery, which played an important part in the club's finances in future seasons.

In the 1959-60 season, they won the Lancashire Cup for the first time in 22 years, playing all their games away from home. St. Helens were the final hurdle but the Wire managed a 5-4 win at Central Park.

In 1961, Warrington reached the RL Championship final held at Odsal, but Leeds had total control over the match and ran out 25-10. This also turned out to be the last match for long serving coach Ces Mountford.

Ernie Ashcroft took over as coach from the departed Ces Mountford for the 1961-62 season. Easter Monday 1962 saw Brian Bevan's last match for Warrington.

During the early part of the 1965-66 season floodlights were installed and a friendly match against Wigan was arranged. They were officially switched on for the match on Tuesday 28th September, Wigan winning the match. Warrington's home game against Widnes became the first rugby league match to be broadcast on BBC albeit only to the south of England. The final of the Lancashire Cup was reached by gaining a 21-10 victory over Oldham in the semi-final. The final against Rochdale Hornets, at Knowsley Road, was won 16-5.

1970s onwards

After a disastrous start to the 1970-71 season, coach Joe Egan decided to stand down. He was replaced by Peter Harvey. The change made little difference as the club won only 11 out of 24 matches. The club also had debts of around £33,000. An Extraordinary General Meeting of the shareholders was called and they agreed to increase the share capital to £30,000 by creating 20,000 'A' ordinary shares at £1 each. All of these 'A' shares were sold to Ossie Davies and were worth five votes for each share, rather than the usual one. The directors of the old board agreed to resign and Mr. Davies who had been Vice Chairman of the old board, became Chairman of the new board.

Alex Murphy joined Warrington as player-coach on May 20th, 1971.

The indifferent league form continued in 1974-75, as did the early exit from several cup competitions, the Challenge Cup being the exception. Warrington again reached Wembley to face Widnes; the Chemics winning 14-7.

The first trophy was the Locker Cup won with a 14-9 victory over Wigan. Next was the Players No. 6 trophy, the final at Wigan against Rochdale Hornets providing a 27-16 win. Salford put an end to the success with a defeat in the first round of the BBC 2 Floodlit Trophy. A new competition, the Captain Morgan Trophy, provided the club with its third trophy of the season. Wins over Wigan, Castleford and Leeds led to the final against Featherstone Rovers which Warrington won 4 points to nil. However the team continued to perform poorly in the league.

Warrington defeated Huddersfield, Huyton and then Dewsbury were defeated to get to Wembley for the first time in twenty years. Warrington beat 24-9 Featherstone Rovers for the second time that season in a cup final to win the Challenge Cup. In the Merit Trophy play-off, Warrington played and beat Hull, Bradford Northern and then Wakefield Trinity in the semi final. The final at Wigan was against St. Helens, and after a great struggle Warrington won their fifth trophy, 13 pts. to 12. Alex Murphy then retired as a player but continued to coach the side.

Poor league performance continued in 1977/78 but Warrington again made it to the Regal trophy final. Warrington beat Widnes 9-4.

In 1978, Warrington appointed Billy Benyon as Alex Murphy's successor. A solid year round performance saw Warrington finish second in the league, losing only 8 matches all year. A major highlight of the season was the controversial 15-12 victory over the touring Australians. For the second year running the club reached the John Player Trophy final, but were unable to repeat the previous year's victory, the match going to Widnes by 16 pts. to 4.

The 1980-81 season brought the Lancashire Cup and the John Player Trophy. After consistently good performances in the league they were League Championship runners up.

In 1990 Warrington made it to the final of the Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium and face arch rivals Wigan. Warrington lost 34-16 and this is the last appearance in the Challenge Cup final to date.

Warrington won the Regal Trophy in 1992 beating Bradford Northern 12-2 at Headingley, Leeds. This is the last major trophy Warrington have won to date. Warrington did make it to the final of the Regal Trophy in 1994 but lost 40-10 to Wigan at McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield.

With the advent of Super League, several mergers between clubs were proposed. Warrington were scheduled to merge with Widnes to form "Cheshire" who would compete in Super League. This was, however, resisted. Warrington were awarded a place in the Super League and Widnes were at one stage given a place but then were dropped and had to be relegated to Division One.

uper League era

In the earlier stages of Super League, Warrington failed to compete with the big guns and for several years were a midtable outfit. Warrington added Wolves to their name and to mark this came a new logo which is still in place to date. Plans to move from Wilderspool Stadium were announced with Burtonwood the likely site. The former brewery on Winwick Road was chosen to be the new home for Warrington and Tesco were to also develop on the land with their first ever supermarket in the town. A lengthy planning process finally ended with the Secretary of State finally giving the green light for the 14,206 capacity stadium and supermarket to be built.

Paul Cullen was appointed head coach in 2002, replacing David Plange.

Their best season in Super League has been the 2005 season (Super League X), where they finished in 4th place and earned a home tie in the playoffs. They are one of only a handful of clubs never to have been relegated from the top flight of rugby league, throughout their long history.

Warrington's first season in the Halliwell Jones Stadium saw slight underachievement on the pitch reflected in their finishing position of eighth in Super League, though they did make the semi finals of the Challenge Cup. However they recorded a significant increase in their average attendances and midway through the season the club was purchased by events promoter Simon Moran. Moran immediately released fresh investment into the club, enabling coach Paul Cullen to sign Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson for a club record fee reported in the region of £200,000 as well as New Zealand internationals Henry Fa'afili and Logan Swann.

Australian half-back Andrew Johns played 3 games for the club when his Australian club Newcastle concluded their season. He wore the number 31 (the club was refused permission for Johns to wear 77) and is rumoured to have been paid around £40,000 (Aus$100,000) per match for the Wires. The signing caused controversy for a couple of reasons: if the Wires had made the Super League Grand Final, it would have clashed with the Kangaroos Tri-Nations test against New Zealand in Sydney; also, many people questioned why the Wires were allowed to bring in a player in time for the Super League play-offs after he had finished playing a full season in Australia. The signing and subsequent confusion over the rules led other Super League clubs to follow the example set by the Wires and signed their own Antipodean players on short-term contracts.

On 22nd September 2006, Warrington beat Leeds 18-17 at Headingley to progress to the second round of the Super League playoffs. This was the first time during the Super League era that the Wires had progressed past the first round of the playoffs. However, they were unable to progress any further as they were beaten 40-24 by Bradford Northern at Odsal Stadium.

For the 2007 season Warrington signed current Great Britain international Adrian Morley on a four year deal from the Sydney Roosters NRL club, Paul Johnson, another Great Britain international, from Bradford Northern on a three year deal and New Zealand international back rower or centre Vinnie Anderson, 27, on a three year deal from St Helens paying a £50k transfer fee.

Warrington finished the 2007 season in 7th place in the table which was seen as a disaster for the club following the impressive signings made during the close season. Finishing 7th resulted in Warrington missing out on the end of season playoffs for the first time in 3 years with local rivals Wigan piping the Wire on the last weekend of the season.

Warrington have already signed four players for the 2008 season. They are Michael Monaghan, who has signed from Manly on a 4-year-deal, Vinnie Anderson's brother Louis from the New Zealand Warriors, Manly Sea Eagles winger Chris Hicks, both on 2-year-deals and Melbourne Storm centre Matt King on a four year deal.

Warrington announced that Australasian trio Chris Leikvoll, Brent Grose, and Henry Fa'afili could not be retained for the 2008 season due to salary cap restrictions.

After a storming start to the season, Chris Bridge was once again injured with a ruptured achilles tendon and this ruled him out for the rest of the season. Stuart Reardon, full back for the team, is also expected to have a full reconstruction of his achilles tendon, gained at the clash against St Helens and is expected to be out for the rest of the season. Paul Wood is also likely to be out for the season, after a further injury to his shoulder.

In a match on 8 May Matt King was knocked out in a game against Wigan from a high tackle that caused a Wigan player to be sent off. King was stretchered off, but only received slight concussion. Utility back Paul Johnson will miss the rest of the season after it was confirmed that he will need a full cruciate knee ligament reconstruction. Johnson was injured during the second half of Warrington's 40-34 cup defeat at St Helens.

On 27 May 2008 Head Coach Paul Cullen resigned from the coaching role at the club following a run of only one victory in 7 league fixtures. James Lowes was appointed as the new Head Coach of the club and given a contract until the end of the 2010 season.

The club went on to finish the season in sixth position in the table and securing a playoff tie away to Catalans Dragons. The Wolves lost 8-46 ending what was another season to forget for the club.

For 2009, the Wolves have recruited Garreth Carvell from Hull FC for an undisclosed fee on a three year deal, along with Micky Higham from Wigan Warriors on a two year deal.

2008 Squad

As of 3 October, 2007:

Losses

2008 Fixtures/Results

2008 Engage Super League

*Round 13 played at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

***Super League Grand Final played @ Old Trafford

Major honours

*Championships "(3 times)": 1947-48, 1953-54, 1954-55
*Challenge Cup "(5 times)": 1904-05, 1906-07, 1949-50, 1953-54, 1973-74
*Lancashire League"(8 times)": 1937-38, 1947-48, 1948-49, 1950-51, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1955-56, 1967-68
*Lancashire Cup "(9 times)": 1921-22, 1929-30, 1932-33, 1937-38, 1959-60, 1965-66, 1980-81, 1982-83, 1989-90
*Regal Trophy "(4 times)": 1973-74, 1977-78, 1980-81, 1990-91

Records

Record Victory - 84-1 vs York Wasps 27/02/00
Record Defeat - 0-80 vs St Helens RLFC 4/01/96
Record Attendance - 102,569 vs Halifax 05/05/1954
Most Goals in a Game - 14 - Lee Briers vs York Wasps 27/02/00
Most Tries in a Game - 7 - Brian Bevan vs Leigh 29/03/49
Most Points in a Game - 36 - John Woods vs Swinton 13/10/85
Most Goals in a Season - 170 - Steve Hesford 1952-1953
Most Tries in a Season - 66 - Brian Bevan 1978-1979
Most Points in a Season - 363 - Harry Bath 1952-1953

Notable Former players

* Allan Bateman
* Harry Bath
* Brian Bevan
* John Bevan
* Les Boyd
* Jonathan Davies
* Des Drummond

* Bobby Fulton
* Parry Gordon
* Andy Gregory
* Mike Gregory
* Iestyn Harris
* Gerry Helme
* Steve Hesford

* Andrew Johns
* Allan Langer
* Tawera Nikau
* Harold Palin
* Albert Pimblett
* Paul Sculthorpe
* Bill Shankland

External links

* [http://www.warringtonwolves.com/home.htm Official Club Site]
* [http://www.superleague.co.uk/ Super League Official Site]
* [http://www2.rugbynetwork.net/main/s449.html/ Wired Rugby League]
* [http://forums.rlfans.com/viewforum.php?f=21 RLFANS.com Warrington Wolves Message Board]


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