Warrington Wolves

Introduction

Warrington Wolves are the only club in English rugby league history to have played every season in the top flight. Also nicknamed "The Wire", the club play their home matches at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

History

Early years

Formed in 1879, Warrington enjoyed a nomadic first decade as they started out at Sankey Street, before moving to Wilderspool Road, then Slutchers Lane, before returning to Sankey Street and back to Wilderspool Road.

Their first home game was against Oughtrington, which was won by three goals to one. The club then joined with Padgate Excelsior in 1881 and Warrington Wanderers in 1884 to give the club additional players and resources. The merger with Padgate saw J.E. Warren and Harry Ashton join the club, who were to be significant figures in the club’s early development. The benefits were near immediate, as 1886 saw the club’s first silverware, the South West Lancashire and Border Towns Trophy.

In 1895, Warrington became one of 22 Northern clubs who voted to form a breakaway Northern Rugby Football Union, which allowed payments to compensate for loss of earnings through playing rugby (although full time professionalism remained illegal). Rule changes were proposed and tested, and Warrington won their first Northern Union game by beating Hunslet 5-4.

The first Challenge Cup competition was held in 1897, where the club eventually lost to Batley in the semi finals. One year later, the club agreed a ten year lease on Wilderspool, with £251 spent on the ground fencing and establishing the boundaries of what became Wilderspool Stadium. The club’s first game at Wilderspool was a 3-3 draw against Swinton, in front of 7,000 fans.

Warrington reached their first Challenge Cup final in 1901, losing to Batley in front of 29,000 fans at Leeds, and also lost in the 1904 final, this time 8-3 against Halifax. However, in 1905, they defeated Hull Kingston Rovers 6-0 to win the cup.

The club had to wait until 1950 for their next Challenge Cup success, with a 19-0 win over local rivals Widnes in the final. Moreover, in between Challenge Cup successes, the club enjoyed regional glory, winning the Lancashire Cup in 1921-22, 1929-30, 1932-33 and 1937-38, as well as the Lancashire League in 1937-38, 1947-48 and 1948-49.

Years of glory

After the Second World War, Warrington enjoyed their most successful period ever. Winger Brian Bevan joined the club in 1945 and would go on to become a club legend, scoring 740 tries in 620 games. Alongside other players such as Harry Bath and Gerry Helme, Bevan helped Warrington to win all of the code’s major honours, renamed Rugby League in 1925, including the League Championship in 1947-48, 1953-54 and 1954-55. The first championship came in front of 69,143 at Maine Road as Warrington defeated Bradford Northern 15-5, with Bevan claiming the man of the match award.

Their second success came in 1953-54, which was to prove a very successful season for the Wire. Despite finishing 2nd in the league behind Halifax, Warrington went on to defeat Fax in the Championship Final at Maine Road, in a game televised by the BBC, by 8 points to 7. The two clubs also met in the Challenge Cup Final, first drawing 4-4 at Wembley, before Warrington won the replay 8-4 in front a mammoth crowd of 102,569 at Odsal, Bradford. In this season, Brian Bevan scored 62 tries and Harry Bath kicked 153 goals.

The club retained the championship the following season, with a 7-3 win over Oldham in the final at Maine Road. 1955 also saw the first ever Boxing Day clash with fierce rivals Widnes at Wilderspool. This fixture was to become a highlight of the calendar for years to come, and the two clubs regularly meet in Boxing Day friendlies now the season has changed to summer time.

The highlight of the following season was a 21-17 win over the touring Australians, as the club was knocked out in the play-offs by Hull.

The club’s lottery was launched in 1957 which played an important part in the club’s finances. The benefits were reflected on the pitch as Warrington won the Lancashire Cup for the first time in 22 years in 1959-60, defeating St Helens 5-4 at Wigan.

In 1966, Warrington’s home game against Widnes became the first rugby league match to be broadcast on BBC, although it was only shown to the South of England. The club also won the Lancashire Cup, beating Rochdale 16-5 in the final at Knowsley Road.

The 1970s saw Warrington’s fifth and last Challenge Cup success, with a 24-9 win over Featherstone Rovers giving them the trophy in 1974. But it nearly never came, as the club almost went out of business in 1970, before local businessman Ossie Davies stepped in to save the club.

In 1975, the club once again reached the Challenge Cup final, but lost 14-5 to Widnes. This proved to be something of a turning point.

Living on the Wire

Warrington won the Regal Trophy twice during the 70s, but their poor league performances continued in the second half of the decade. At the start of the 1980s, Warrington won the Lancashire Cup and the John Player Trophy, and finished as League Championship runners up in 1981.

Unfortunately, Warrington’s last trophy to date was the 1992 Regal Trophy, which they won with a 12-2 defeat of Bradford Northern. Their last Challenge Cup final appearance was in 1990, when they were defeated 34-16 by Wigan.

The sport of rugby league saw a transformation in the mid-90s, with the move from winter to summer rugby. Warrington were scheduled to merge with arch rivals Widnes to form Cheshire, but these plans were resisted, and Warrington took their place in Super League, with Widnes in the league below, despite them also having a place promised at the time.

Super League saw the advent of nicknames, and the club adopted the name "Wolves". In 2004, the club moved into their brand new 14,206 capacity Halliwell Jones Stadium on Winwick Road, with a supermarket next door.

Current Head Coach Paul Cullen was appointed in 2002, and staved off the threat of relegation. In recent years, the club have steadily improved their league position, added quality players to their squad and increased their attendances, and they enjoyed their most successful Super League season to date in 2005, when they finished 4th.

In 2005, the club pulled off a major coup when Australian half back Andrew Johns, widely regarded as the finest player of his generation, joined the club for three games after the conclusion of the NRL season.

Wolves legends

There are 12 players inducted in to the Warrington Hall of Fame, which was launched in 2003. The 12 are: Jackie Fish, Jack Miller, Tommy Thompson, Billy Dingsdale, Bill Shankland, Jack Arkwright (Snr), Harold Palin, Albert Johnson, Gerry Helme, Brian Bevan, Eric Fraser and Jim Challinor.

Tickets

All ticket information can be found on the Warrington Wolves website (see Contact Details), with the prices as of 2007 listed below:

North Stand

Adult – £24
Concession – £16

East Stand (Sponsored by Martin Dawes)

Adult – £19
Concession – £12

South Stand (Sponsored by Prime Time Recruitment)

Adult – £17
Concession – £11

West Stand (Sponsored by Lloyds TSB)

Adult – £17
Concession – £11

Contact Details

To contact the club and ask any questions and pass opinion use the following:

Warrington Wolves
Halliwell Jones Stadium
Winwick Road
Warrington WA2 7NE
Telephone: 01925 248880
Email: info@warringtonwolves.com
Web: Warrington Wolves

Travel Information

Directions from the North

Take Junction 9 off M62 and head south towards Warrington along the A49. After 1.5 miles, go straight on through the lights with MacDonalds on the right. Take the next right before Tescos into Owen Street. At the T-junction, turn left into Dallam Lane. The car park can be found 100 yards away. Park within the coned off Green Section.

Directions from the South

Follow signs for A49 North. Take the next left after Tescos into Owen Street. At the T-junction, turn left into Dallam Lane. You will find the car park 100 yards away.

Please be aware

Do not enter Tesco car park by the main entrance opposite PLP Motors. Tesco will issue £50 fines for cars parked on the Tesco Car Park, even those with Green Parking Passes.

If you do enter the Tesco Car Park from the A49 in error, take the exit back out of the Tesco car park and turn left onto the A49 heading north, then follow the "Directions from the South".

Warrington Central railway station is a two minute walk from the ground. The Warrington Bus Interchange is also less than a five minute walk away.

Major Honours

  • League Championship – 1947-48, 1953-54, 1954-55
  • Challenge Cup Winners – 1904-05, 1906-07, 1949-50, 1953-54, 1973-74
  • Lancashire League Winners – 1937-38, 1947-48, 1948-49, 1950-51, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1955-56, 1967-68
  • Lancashire Cup Winners – 1921-22, 1929-30, 1932-33, 1937-38, 1959-60, 1965-66, 1980-81, 1982-83, 1989-90
  • Regal Trophy Winners – 1973-74, 1977-78, 1980-81, 1990-91