St Helens RLFC

St Helens RLFC

Infobox rugby league team
clubname = St Helens

fullname = St Helens Rugby League Football Club
location = St Helens
nickname = Saints
founded = 1873
ground = The GPW Recruitment Stadium
capacity = 17,500
chairman = flagicon|England Eamonn McManus
coach = flagicon|Australia Daniel Anderson
captain = flagicon|England Paul Sculthorpe
league = Super League
lastyear = 2008
lastposition = 1st (Grand Final runner-up)
website =
leaguewins = 12
clubchampions = 2
challengecups = 12

St Helens Rugby League Football Club, are a professional rugby league club from St Helens, England. The club play in the Super League. Their home ground is Knowsley Road , recently renamed GPW Recruitment Stadium, but plans are in place for the team to move to a new 18,000 capacity stadium. St. Helens 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.

There is a strong rivalry between St. Helens and Wigan Warriors; the local derby between the two clubs has been traditionally regarded as the biggest in British and world rugby league.

The current Head Coach at St Helens is Australian Daniel Anderson, and the club captain is Paul Sculthorpe. Current Catalans Dragons coach Mick Potter has signed a two year deal to take over from Anderson from 2009 season onwards.


Early years

St. Helens are one of the oldest members of the Rugby Football League. Founded in 1873, the club moved in 1890, defeating Manchester Rangers in the first match played at Knowsley Road. In 1895 Saints 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, Bob Doherty scoring Saints’ first try. The Saints played in a vertically striped blue and white jersey- a stark contrast to the well known red vee which would become the kit for the club later. The club reverted back to this kit for one season during the rugby league centenary 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.

In 1902/3, the Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues were combined to form two divisions, 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 poor year to see Saints finish in a relegation position. However the League became one to save the club from a 2nd relegation.

On 14th June 1913, St Helens Recs joined the Northern Rugby Union. The Recs were based at City Road and played their first game on 6th September 1913. St Helens now had two professional rugby league teams. St Helens Recs played their last game on 29th April 1939. Due to the economic depression, it was not possible for the town to sustain two teams.

One year after the first Challenge Cup was held at Wembley stadium, St Helens reached the final at Wembley where they were defeated by Widnes (1930). []

During the War years Saints struggled and finished bottom of the Emergency War League twice.

Post war

The arrival of Jim Sullivan as coach in 1952 heralded a successful era for St Helens, and helped to establish the club as a respected force in Rugby League. Sullivan took them to their first victory in the Challenge Cup Final, as well as to two championships.Alan Prescott took over from Jim Sullivan as Saints’ coach.

On Saturday 24th November 1956, St Helens inflicted a touring Australia its biggest ever defeat with a 44-2 win.

Perhaps the golden era of the club came in the 1960s, as well as more lately in the recent Super League era. With a galaxy of stars including Tom van Vollenhoven, Alex Murphy, Dick Huddart and Vince Karalius, the 1960s was a decade of great success for the Saints, with the League and Challenge Cup double achieved in 1966. During this decade, the recognisable ‘red vee’ strip first appeared in 1961 for the Challenge Cup Final against Wigan. Saints won this epic 12-6, and the kit has since become synonymous with the club.

The 1965 New Zealand tourists appeared at Knowsley Road on Wednesday 15 September. Saints inflicted a 28-7 defeat on their visitors, their biggest loss of the tour.

St. Helens reached three Challenge Cup finals in the 1970s. They defeated Leeds in 1972 16-13 and repeated this success three years later against Widnes in 1976 where they were victorious by 20-5 in the famous 'Dads Army' final. In 1978 Leeds avenged their loss against St. Helens, emerging winners by 14-12. In 1977/78, Saints lost 26-11 to Hull Kingston Rovers in the final of the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy.

Kel Coslett took over as coach in June 1980. He held the post for two years before handing over to Billy Benyon. Saints won the Lancashire Cup with a 26-18 win at Wigan in 1984 and won the Premiership in 1985 with a 36-16 victory over Champions Hull Kingston Rovers.

The arrival of Alex Murphy as coach in 1986 produced some colourful displays from a team that was widely regarded as an entertaining team to watch, but seemed to be constant runners-up, as illustrated by the shock defeat to Halifax in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley 19-18 in 1987.

St Helens lifted the John Player Trophy with a thrilling 15-14 victory over Leeds in January 1988. Neil Holding dropping the crucial goal. Later St Helens lost to Widnes in the Premiership Final at Old Trafford.

Alex Murphy was succeeded by Mike McClennan in February 1990, he was head coach until December 1993, winning the Lancashire Cup and Premiership in 2003 defeating Wigan.

uper League era

Saints have also become one of the most successful side of the summer era. Since the inception of Super League they have won the competition on five occasions, and have added seven Challenge Cups to their five previous successes. St Helens defeated Bradford Bulls 8-6 in the Grand Final, with more than 50,000 people seeing Chris Joynt lift the trophy at Old Trafford. They also won the World Club Challenge in 2001 and 2007, beating Brisbane Broncos both times.

The success of the Saints in super league began under the leadership of Shaun McRae in 1996. During his tenure the club won one league title and two challenge cups. Ellery Hanley succeeded McRae in 1999 and led Saints to Grand Final success against Bradford in the October of that year. Hanley was considered by many to be a polarising figure and after several acrimonious disagreements with the St Helens board of directors, he was sacked a month into the following season. [] Ian Millward was appointed as head coach.

Under Millward, St Helens quickly became the most exciting team in the competition, playing expansive, attacking rugby. They retained their Super League title in 2000 beating Wigan Warriors 29-16 and reclaimed it in 2002 snatching a last minute 19-18 Grand Final win over the Bradford Bulls. They also won the Challenge Cup in 2001 13-6 over the Bulls with the final held at Twickenham for the first time and the 2001 World Club Challenge. In 2004 they beat arch-rivals Wigan 32-16 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in front of a capacity crowd of 73,734 people to win the Challenge Cup.

Millward's reign was not without controversy and his St Helens career ended controversially after he was suspended in May 2005. He was sacked for gross misconduct a week later. Daniel Anderson became the coach after Millward was sacked, but saw his new team become the first team to top the Super League and fail to reach Old Trafford.

They won the 2006 Challenge Cup final on 26 August, beating Huddersfield Giants 42-12. This was their second Challenge Cup victory at Twickenham stadium, the first occasion being in 2001. St Helens player Sean Long was awarded the Lance Todd trophy for the man-of-the-match performance during the 2006 Challenge Cup Final and in doing so became the first ever player to win a third Lance Todd trophy adding to the ones he won in 2001 and 2004.

St Helens followed up their Challenge Cup win by claiming the League Leader's Shield before cementing their reputation as the team of the year by defeating Hull FC 26 points to 4 in the Super League Grand Final. Once more St. Helens confirmed their status as the outstanding team of the summer era. Additionally, Paul Wellens received the Man of Steel Award.

In December 2006 St Helens were awarded with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award at the Annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year Ceremony. This accolade recognises the best team in any sport within the United Kingdom. At the same ceremony Daniel Anderson was given the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award - this was the first time a rugby league coach had won the award.

After a slow start to the 2007 season, Saints added to their history by beating the Brisbane Broncos 18-14 to win the 2007 World Club Challenge. In July they produced a magnificent performance to beat arch rivals Bradford Bulls to reach the first Challenge Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium.

St Helens successfully defended the Challenge Cup, defeating Catalans Dragons 30-8 in the final at Wembley Stadium on 25 August 2007. Unfortunately, they were beaten in the Super League Grand Final by Leeds Rhinos, despite finishing at the top of the league ladder for the third successive season.

Saints success in the Challenge Cup continued in 2008 with another victory at Wembley, this time defeating Hull FC 28 - 16. They have also achieved first place again - for the 4th year running - winning the League Leaders Shield, and beating Leeds Rhinos 38-10 for the right to go to Old Trafford for the Grand Final.

On the 4th October 2008, St. Helens were once again defeated by Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final.

Kit Evolution

Football kit
pattern_la = _white_stripes
pattern_b = _whitestripes
pattern_ra = _white_stripes
leftarm = 0000FF
body = 0000FF
rightarm = 0000FF
shorts = 0000FF
socks = 0000FF
title = very early kit
Football kit
pattern_la = _red_hoops
pattern_b = _redhorizontal
pattern_ra = _red_hoops
leftarm = FFFFFF
body = FFFFFF
rightarm = FFFFFF
shorts = FFFFFF
socks = FFFFFF
title = kit until 1961
Football kit
pattern_la = _redborder
pattern_b = _Vonwhite
pattern_ra = _redborder
leftarm = FFFFFF
body = FF0000
rightarm = FFFFFF
shorts = FFFFFF
socks = FF0000
title = 1961-present

2008 Squad

"As of 1 December 2007":

See here for the 2008 season

2008 Signings/Transfers


2008 Fixtures/Results


*World Club Challenge "(2 times)": 2001, 2007,
*Championship (including Super League) "(12 times)": 1931-32, 1952-53, 1958-59, 1965-66, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1974-75, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006
*Challenge Cup "(12 times)": 1955-56, 1960-61, 1965-66, 1971-72, 1975-76, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
*League Leader's Shield "(6 times)": 1964-65, 1965-66, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
*Regal Trophy: 1987-88
*Premiership "(4 times)": 1975-76, 1976-77, 1984-85, 1992-93
*Lancashire Cup "(11 times)": 1926-27, 1953-54, 1960-61, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1984-85, 1991-92
*Lancashire League "(12 times)": 1929-30, 1931-32, 1952-53, 1956-57, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67, 1968-69
*Charity Shield : 1992-93
*BBC2 Floodlit Trophy "(2 times)": 1971-72, 1975-76
*BBC Sports Team Of The Year: 2006 (by public vote)


Player records

* Most goals in a match: 16 by Paul Loughlin vs Carlisle, 14th September 1986
* Most points in a match: 40 by Paul Loughlin vs Carlisle, 14th September 1986
*Most tries in a match: 6 by all of the following:
**Alf Ellaby v. Barrow, 5 Mar 1932.
**Steve Llewellyn v. Castleford, 3 Mar 1956.
**Steve Llewellyn v. Liverpool City, 20 Aug 1956.
**Tom Van Vollenhoven v. Wakefield Trinity, 21 Dec 1957.
**Tom Van Vollenhoven v. Blackpool Borough, 23 Apr 1962.
**Frank Myler v. Maryport, 1 September 1969.
**Shane Cooper v. Hull, 17 Feb 1988.
* Most tries in a season: 62 by Tom Van Vollenhoven, 1958-59
* Most goals in a season: 214 by Kel Coslett, 1971-72
* Most points in a season: 452 by Kel Coslett, 1971-72
* Most career tries: 392 Tom Van Vollenhoven 1957-68 (third highest by any player)
* Most career points: 3,413 Kel Coslett 1961-76
* Most career goals 1,639 Kel Coslett 1961-76
* Most career appearances Kel Coslett 519 plus 12 as substitute 1961-76

Team records

* Highest Score: 112-0 vs Carlisle, 14th September 1986
* Heaviest Defeat: 78-6 vs Warrington, 12th April 1999
* Highest Attendance: 35,695 vs Wigan, 26th December 1949

Notable Former Players

See here of a partial list of St Helens players.
*flagicon|AUS Darren Albert
*flagicon|ENG Paul Anderson
*flagicon|ENG Jack Arkwright
*flagicon|WAL Paul Atcheson
*flagicon|ENG Billy Benyon
*flagicon|ENG Tommy Bishop
*flagicon|WAL Lee Briers
*flagicon|AUS Darren Britt
*flagicon|WAL Ray Cale
*flagicon|ENG Eric Chisnall
*flagicon|ENG Gary Connolly
*flagicon|WAL Kel Coslett
*flagicon|IRE|rugby Bernard Dwyer
*flagicon|ENG Alf Ellaby
*flagicon|ENG Les Fairclough
*flagicon|ENG Ray French
*flagicon|WAL Scott Gibbs
*flagicon|ENG Martin Gleeson
*flagicon|ENG Bobbie Goulding
*flagicon|ENG Duggie Greenall
*flagicon|WAL Clive Griffiths
*flagicon|ENG Roy Haggerty
*flagicon|WAL Karle Hammond
*flagicon|ENG Mickey Higham
*flagicon|AUS Jason Hooper
*flagicon|NZL Sean Hoppe
*flagicon|ENG Alan Hunte
*flagicon|NZL Kevin Iro
*flagicon|ENG Les Jones
*flagicon|IRE|rugby Tim Jonkers
*flagicon|IRE|rugby Chris Joynt
*flagicon|AUS Vince Karalius
*flagicon|RSA Len Killeen
*flagicon|WAL Steve Llewellyn
*flagicon|ENG Paul Loughlin
*flagicon|ENG Dave Lyon
*flagicon|AUS Jamie Lyon
*flagicon|WAL John Mantle
*flagicon|IRE|rugby Tommy Martyn
*flagicon|WAL Roy Mathias
*flagicon|Samoa Vila Matautia
*flagicon|AUS Mal Meninga
*flagicon|ENG Alex Murphy
*flagicon|ENG George Nicholls
*flagicon|ENG Sonny Nickle
*flagicon|AUS Michael O'Connor
*flagicon|WAL Roger Owen
*flagicon|ENG Ronald Peebles
*flagicon|Samoa Apollo Perelini
*flagicon|ENG Geoff Pimblett
*flagicon|ENG Harry Pinner
*flagicon|ENG Andy Platt
*flagicon|ENG Alan Prescott
*flagicon|IRE|rugby Steve Prescott
*flagicon|ENG Austin Rhodes
*flagicon|NZL Tea Ropati
*flagicon|AUS Darren Smith
*flagicon|ENG John Stankevitch
*flagicon|WAL Anthony Sullivan
*flagicon|Samoa Fereti Tuilagi
*flagicon|RSA Tom Van Vollenhoven
*flagicon|AUS Paul Vautin
*flagicon|AUS Phil Veivers
*flagicon|AUS Barry Ward
*flagicon|ENG Cliff Watson

Coaching Register

*Eric Ashton (May 74 - May 80)
*Kel Coslett (June 80 - May 82)
*Billy Benyon (May 82 - Nov 85)
*Alex Murphy (Nov 85 - Jan 90)
*Mike McClennan (Feb 90 - Dec 93)
*Eric Hughes (Jan 94 - Jan 96)
*Shaun McRae (Jan 96 - Oct 98)
*Ellery Hanley (Dec 98 - Mar 00)
*Ian Millward (Mar 00 - May 05)
*Daniel Anderson (May 05 - Oct 08)
*Mick Potter (from 2009 season)

St Helens links

*Saints Academy
*Saints former Coaches


External links

* [ Official website] (relaunched in Feb 2007)
* [ Official Store]
* [ Saints Heritage Society website]
* [ RedVee.Net - Independent Saints Supporters Site]
* [ Paul Sculthorpe - Club Captain - Official Website]
* [ The Entertainers - Independent Supporters Site]
* - Original St Helens RLFC Supporters Club Incorporating Junior Saints
* [ New St Helens stadium site]

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