Wakefield Trinity Wildcats

Introduction

In 1873, a group of men from the Holy Trinity Church in Wakefield formed the Wakefield Trinity Rugby Club. The club has undergone a number of changes over the years, but their white shirts with red and blue trim have consistently held on to a position near the top of English rugby and, since being promoted to the Super League in 1999, the Wildcats have proven their mettle to fend off relegation in a series of dramatic end-of-season finales.

Early days

During the club’s infancy in the 1870s and 1880s, there were a number of strong teams playing in the local area, but Trinity soon rose to prominence, winning the Yorkshire Cup four times in nine years.

Early matches were played at a variety of local locations before the team moved to Belle Vue park in 1879, which they would make a permanent home when they bought the ground in 1895. That same year, they were one of the first clubs to split from the Rugby Football Union, forming the Northern Union with 21 other clubs.

Trinity’s status as a frontrunner even during these early years was evidenced when they won the Northern Union Challenge Cup for the first time in 1909, beating Hull in the final. However, this particular purple patch lasted just a few years and, in 1914, Hull took revenge by taking the cup off Trinity in the final. This defeat proved to be a decisive moment, as the club’s fortunes took a turn for the worst in the next few decades, winning the Yorkshire Cup just once more over the coming decade (in 1925) and losing four Yorkshire Cups in the 1930s, including a demoralising defeat after two replays against Leeds in 1934.

Post-War to Super League

The 1930s and the Second World War were lean years for Wakefield, and they lost the first post-war Yorkshire Cup to Halifax in 1945. However, they beat Wigan to take the cup at the first final held at Wembley after the war, and repeated the victory against Keighley at Huddersfield in 1951.

The rest of the decade saw two Yorkshire Cups and two Yorkshire League Victories collected by Trinity, but no further national glory. However, one particular bright spot was the club featuring in the first league match to be broadcast on British television – a clash with Wigan at Central Park on 12 January 1952 – and, in 1960, they returned to Wembley to defeat Hull with a record 38-5 victory.

Wakefield won their third Challenge Cup two years later in 1962, and kept the title the next year, chalking up an impressive tally of three Wembley titles in four years. These were the glory years for Wakefield. However, domination was not quite total, as two Championship Final defeats in 1960 and 1962 curtailed their winning streak and they had yet to achieve the league championship title. Fortunately though, this would finally come in 1967 and, like London buses, another followed the following year, although a loss to Leeds at Wembley meant they couldn’t pick up the double.

Indeed, they would not return to Wembley until 1979, as a quick succession of management changes brought turbulence to the squad’s training. During the 1970s and 1980s, the club struggled through inconsistent years, being relegated then promoted a few seasons later, but failing to win any new titles.

With former player David Topliss coaching them in the late 1980s, the club seemed to stabilise on the pitch. The signing of a number of internationals brought promotion in 1988 and this time the Wildcats were here to stay.

The Super League

The formation of the Super League in 1995 sent the Wildcats nominally down from the highest league after refusing a merger with Castleford and Featherstone Rovers, and failing to make the top 10 clubs. However, in 1998, a tense Division One Grand Final saw them take a controversial victory from Featherstone Rovers and win promotion. They also adopted the nickname ‘Wildcats’ that year.

However, promotion was not the end of the team’s struggles. The Wildcats found it hard to keep up with the pace of their fellow Super Leaguers, and finished near the bottom of the table during their first few seasons. In 2002, they turned a corner when new coach Shane McNally took the team to their first ever playoffs, finishing the season in a decent sixth place. The next season saw them put in some more strong performances, giving hope to the fans, and a magnificent win against Hull in the quarter finals took the edge of what would prove their ultimate defeat against Wigan in the semis.

2004-5 showcased sporadic brilliance but more consistent losses, and the team only just managed to cling on to their place in the Super League. Similarly, the 2005-6 season looked bad for the Wildcats and they dropped into the relegation zone, with two changes of coach in quick succession doing nothing to stabilise their game. However, a late-season push under former Hull FC coach John Kear saved the club from relegation, a notable victory against Castleford in a sell-out match proving decisive.

The club today

In November 2006, Wakefield City Council unveiled plans for a new sporting village to be built at Thornes Park which would incorporate a new stadium to be used by the Wildcats, along with other facilities. The council is now awaiting the results of a feasibility study into the project which could cost as much as £25 million. If it goes ahead, it will further establish the Wildcats as one of the big international players of the Super League. With Kear at the helm, fans hope the club will go from strength to strength.

Club honours

  • Championship: 1966-67, 1967-68
  • Challenge Cup: 1908-09, 1945-46, 1959-60, 1961-62, 1962-63
  • Yorkshire Cup: 1910-11, 1924-25, 1946-47, 1947-48, 1951-52, 1956-57, 1960-61, 1961-62, 1964-65, 1992-93
  • Yorkshire League: 1909-10, 1910-11, 1945-46, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1961-62, 1962-63
  • Division One: 1998

Club statistics

  • Most Goals In A Season: 163 by Neil Fox, 1961-62
  • Most Goals In A Game: 13 Mark Conway (v. Highfield) 1992/93
  • Highest Attendance: 28,254 vs Wigan, 1962
  • Greatest Victory: 90-12 vs Highfield RLFC, 1992-93
  • Worst Defeat: 90-12 vs Highfield 1992/93

Travel information

Belle Vue stadium is a 5-10 minute walk from Wakefield city centre. Information on bus services from around Wakefield, as well as directions and parking information, are available on the away spectators’ information page.

Train services to Wakefield Westgate run regularly from Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford and York. Alternatively, Wakefield Cars are the taxi company officially recommended by the club (telephone 01924 380000).

Rival club Harlequins give straightforward directions to the Wildcats’ ground on their website.

Ticket information

Box Office Telephone Number: 01924 211 611

Season ticket forms in PDF format and further information are available online on the club’s official website.

Contact information

Wakefield Wildcats
Belle Vue Stadium
Doncaster Road
Wakefield
WF1 5EY