Part Of The Union - 1879 to 1895

1879Warrington RLFC circa 1895

The present Warrington Club was founded by several members of Padgate Rugby Union Club and Zingari Rugby Union Club getting together and deciding to form a new team to be called Warrington. They played on a field off Sankey Street, opposite the Town Hall.

Warrington's first ever match was on 18th October against Walton, on Rice Lane in Liverpool. This first match ended in defeat by three goals (i.e. three converted tries) to nil. W.G. Edwards was the captain on that eventful day.

Oughtrington the first visitors in October, were beaten by three goals to one goal. The players had to walk 100 yards to the ground from their headquarters, which were in the White Hart Hotel, on Sankey Street.



Eleven games were played in that first season of which 7 were won, 2 drawn and 2 lost. Walton, Oughtrington, Hale, Lowton and Worsley were played home and away, whilst Padgate were played just away.

When the Warrington Guardian bought the site on Sankey Street, the Club was forced to move. This time to a field fronting Wilderspool Causeway, just south of St James' Church.

Fairfield Wanderers of Liverpool were the first visitors to the new Wilderspool ground. They were defeated by a drop goal from Lewis.



The Club amalgamated with Padgate Excelsior (hence the logo on the early programmes and Club stationery). The Club moved again to a field in Slutchers Lane, close to where the British Aluminium factory was at Arpley Meadows.

The merger saw J.E. Warren and Harry Ashton join the Club. They became captain and secretary respectively. Both were to stay at the Club for many years and they were to become largely responsible for the development of the Club in its formative years.

Hulme the first visitors were beaten by Warrington, a drop goal by Buxton winning the match.



Yet again another new ground was rented, again off Sankey Street, just behind the old Post Office in Springfield Street. The players changed at the White Hart Hotel, which was the Club's headquarters. The team played in black jerseys.

J.E. Warren was elected secretary and Tom Pemberton elected treasurer, a position he held for thirty seven years.

The first match at the new ground was a scoreless draw against St Helens.



The ground was re-located again, the fifth move in five years. This move was a little further south of the previous field on Wilderspool Road, where Fletcher Street now stands.

Warrington's first ever match was on 18th October 1879 against Walton, on Rice Lane in Liverpool



The Club amalgamated with Warrington Wanderers, who were established in 1876. This gave the Club additional players, which they badly needed, since they did not have a full complement of players for all matches the previous season.



The 1884/5 season had been the Club's most successful to date, with 14 wins, 5 draws and 3 defeats from 22 matches.

The small wooden stand at the ground collapsed, shortly after half time in the Border Cup match against Widnes.

The stand held 200 spectators, but fortunately no one was injured. The gate against Widnes was estimated at 10,000, which was a record attendance for the ground.

The Club headquarters were now at the Griffin Hotel, opposite the Town Hall. Arrangements were made to allow club members to use boats on the River Mersey at reduced rates.



Wilderspool 1886

In January the Club hosted its first representative match. West Lancashire and Border Towns Un

ion played against West Cumberland.

Warrington continued to make progress in the South West Lancashire and Border Towns Trophy. They beat S

t Helens and then met Runcorn in the semi-final. A fight resulted in a player from each side being sent off. The referee had to abandon the match when Runcorn walked off following the referee's refusal to allow the sent off player to return and replace an injured R

uncorn player. The Cup competition committee decided that the match should be replayed. Warrington duly won this match at Southport.

The final was held at Fairfield in Liverpool. After an exciting match Warrington defeated Aspull, by a drop g

oal and a try to a try. So Warrington had won their first ever cup, the South West Lancashire and Border Towns Trophy. Harry Ashton was the captain and Tommy Barnes dropped the winning goal.

On 4th December saw Warrington change their colours from black to primrose and blue narrow stripes, with turned down collars. Warrington beat Wigan 5-0 at home in their first appearance in their new colours. It was believed that the change was to impress the wealthy Greenall family, owners of the Greenall Whitley Brewery. Lady Greenall was president of the primrose League, dedicated to promoting women's rights, while the entire family were true blue Tories. Hence Primrose and blue. If that indeed was the reason for the change it certainly paid off as Greenalls became major sponsors for the next 115 years.



The following season the Club reached the semifinal of the Lancashire Cup, defeating St Helens and Widnes on the way. Wigan, however denied the Club its second trophy, by defeating Warrington on neutral territory.

As Warrington's performances improved their fixture list also improved. They now had to travel to Barrow, Coventry, Dewsbury, Kendal, Millom and Rugby to play. This travelling meant leaving work early, or even missing work on Saturdays, in order to play, thus players were suffering a loss of wages.



A new stand was opened at a cost of £3.10. A grass running track ran around the playing area. Horizontal bars, rings etc were erected for the use by members. A rounders club was formed to encourage players to keep fit during the summer.

New names again appeared on the fixture list, Carlisle, Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Parish Church and Broughton Rangers.



On 17th January the touring Maoris, became the first touring side to visit Warrington, one of 70 matches on an epic tour. The Maoris won by two goals and one try to one try and two minors. A minor was awarded when a defender is forced to touchdown behind his own line.

The first county game was played at Warrington. W. Dillon the Warrington captain was selected six times for his county during the season.



The "A" team was established along with a second team.

The 1890/1 season saw the introduction of a points scoring system in England. Tries were worth one point, conversions and penalty goals were worth two points and dropped goals worth three points.

In November 1890 the committee granted a bonus of two shillings and six pence for the first team players and one shilling each for the "A" team for their matches against Rochdale Hornets.




The 1891/2 season saw the value of a try increased from one point to two, the value of a conversion and penalty goal increased from two points to three and the value of a dropped goal increased from three points to four.

In September the Club made a tour of the Isle of Man. Matches against Douglas and the Isle of Man were both won.

The feud against Runcorn was now settled and the two clubs resumed fixtures.



There was concern about intentions of Derbyshire and East Coast Railway to take over the ground.

Due to poor accommodation the Club's headquarters were moved from the Roebuck Hotel to the Norton Arms. This was located on Wilderspool Road, about 20 yards from the railway crossing.

In November and December a smallpox epidemic caused the cancellation of some fixtures, including the abandonment of the Club tour.

At the end of a 2-2 draw with Salford, a section of the crowd who disagreed with the referee's decisions mobbed the official as he left the ground. These actions resulted in the ground being suspended.



Many Northern clubs were agitating for authority to pay their players for "expenses" to cover time they had from their work to play rugby. The English Rugby Union stubbornly refused all demands.

The Club turned the clock back twelve years when they ran the 2nd team as a separate club, Warrington Excelsior. This was because the team (3rd after first and "A") were having trouble in getting any matches, clubs of any standing did not want to play a third team.

The 1893/4 season saw the value of a try increased from two points to three and the value of a conversion reduced from three points to two. A penalty goal was still worth three points, while dropped goals and goals from marks were still worth four points.

Warrington benefited from the decision of the Stockton Heath Club to disband because three of their best players, Fair Barber, F. Broady and G. Cross immediately joined the Wirepullers. That trio, in combination with local lad C.Burton from the St Mary's team formed the Club's first great threequarter line.



Warrington had their best season so far and finished third in the table in the Lancashire Cup Competition.



A severe frost in January resulted in there being no matches played for two months.

Our Sponsors

University of ChesterHalliwell JonesRyders of WarringtonFirst UtilityBig StorageEmiratesBet BrightBMW



Save with First Utility

First Utility