Tony, maybe you can fill in the memory gaps for me. I can never remember Salford as ever being a strong club, What was it like in the Dave Watkins era? I was an avid and active Swinton fan from 1957 to round about 1968 when I moved well away from Swinton. Not that Swinton were in any way solid, well off and well run - poor crowds, dilapidated stadium etc but I recall Salford being even worse.
I don't think I can, John. I was a soccer fan as a kid and RL didn't register (well, not significantly) with me until Boxing Day 1976. I chose to support Salford (rather than Swinton, Oldham or Rochdale) about a year or so later when I decided that I ought to pin my colours to a particular mast. Prior to that I just loved the game in general. During the intervening 35 years, I have probably watched York more than anyone else, simply because I lived in York until 1977 and in Whitby from then on.
Okay, so what do I know? Salford have not enjoyed a period of success at all (ever, afaik). They had two brief periods when they were successful. The first was in the 30s, under Lance Todd, when they acquired the "Red Devils" moniker. The second was from about 1967 to about 1976, under Brian Snape, when they were known as "The Quality Street Gang". This was the era when Salford first registered on my radar. Snape signed the best players and paid the best wages in the game. Players like Mike Coulman, Chris Hesketh, David Watkins and Keith Fielding, along with many others whose names I would need to dig out from the deeper recesses of what passes for my memory, entertained large crowds (not sure of the actual size, but ca.10,000 at a guess) on Friday nights at The Willows. The Variety Centre meant that you could watch the rugby, get something to eat (I think!), drink and dance the night away or enjoy a show. I always thought that was a marketable concept, but it all fell into disrepair and, by the time I began watching, the whole edifice was looking shabby.
That's the best I can do, but if someone else knows better, I'd happily accept their word.
As for Station Road, I thought it was in a similar condition to The Willows by the late 70s. It definitely had more potential than The Willows (railway station, car park, a bit of 'elbow room' around it), but it obviously needed megabucks spending to bring it back up to standard. If only the two clubs had had the wisdom and humility to work together, sell one ground (The Willows, probably) and develop facilities at the other, with both teams playing out of the one stadium (they weren't that far away from each other), we could both be in a different place right now. Hindsight is great, isn't it?
Edited by tonyXIII, 28 December 2012 - 02:54 PM.