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Gregory

Huyton RL

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I don't dispute that Amateur RL is thriving, but it just puzzles me why  the advent of pro soccer, prevented there being any serious attempts at pro RL in the Heartlands' adjacent areas. After all NU overcame losing clubs like Bradford, Manningham, Holbeck to soccer, and still managed to survive, even thrive in the old West Riding, why not elsewhere in the demographically almost identical areas in East and South West Lancs?


“Few thought him even a starter.There were many who thought themselves smarter. But he ended PM, CH and OM. An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.”

Clement Attlee.

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I don't dispute that Amateur RL is thriving, but it just puzzles me why  the advent of pro soccer, prevented there being any serious attempts at pro RL in the Heartlands' adjacent areas. After all NU overcame losing clubs like Bradford, Manningham, Holbeck to soccer, and still managed to survive, even thrive in the old West Riding, why not elsewhere in the demographically almost identical areas in East and South West Lancs?

 

One difference could be that the Lancashire pro soccer teams were at the top of the pile for most of the 20th century. Liverpool/Everton/Man United/Man City have been big clubs throughout the history of football, but teams like Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Blackpool etc were top clubs for much of the century too - and those places are too small to really support 2 big clubs. The only equivalent big clubs in Yorkshire would've been the Sheffield teams (where there was historically no RL) and Huddersfield Town (top team with Herbert Chapman in the 1920/30s) and arguably Huddersfield is the weakest of the RL areas in the West Riding? The football/rugby split in Lancashire/Cheshire was already in place by 1895.

 

The demographics thing is interesting. There is (or at least, was) a clear line between Liverpool & Widnes/St.Helens/Wigan in terms of accents etc. but equally one could argue that Oldham/Rochdale have more in common with the mill towns of East Lancs than they do with say Widnes/Warrington/St. Helens.

 

We forget how much transport & communications have improved since those early days. Teams from SW Lancs used to travel to Barrow by boat from Fleetwood in the first decades of the Northern Union and travel to away games in Yorkshire typically involves several changes of trains and then horse & cart from the station. I suspect having a few other clubs to play nearby was a key factor - clubs changed codes because they wanted to be able to play close neighbours.

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There were semi professional clubs in west Lancashire (Blackpool, Fleetwood, Lancaster and Morecambe) and one in east Lancashire (Whitworth) in the early days but they died off. Though only Lancaster and Morecambe played in the league there were lower semi pro divisions then. Incidentally there were lots of small Manchester clubs in the early days playing in the lower semi pro divisions

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There were semi professional clubs in west Lancashire (Blackpool, Fleetwood, Lancaster and Morecambe) and one in east Lancashire (Whitworth) in the early days but they died off. Though only Lancaster and Morecambe played in the league there were lower semi pro divisions then. Incidentally there were lots of small Manchester clubs in the early days playing in the lower semi pro divisions

 

Nice little piece here: http://www.leighminersrangers.net/juniors/?page_id=3173

 

There are two sides referenced there that are in the metropolitan Borough of Bury today - Prestwich and Radcliffe.  The Radcliffe side referenced is in addition to the semi-pro Radcliffe side who played in the NU set up c. 1902. 

 

The fact is, Bury FC play just up the road from Radcliffe and at this time, they were winning FA Cups (Bury won the FA Cup in 1900 and 1904) and hence, soccer became the dominant football code locally.  Given that players could easily cross codes and that Bury FC were getting the crowds (and were fully prepared to pay players) I imagine the best players ended up there too. Add to this the fact that the 1905 FA Cup Final was between Bolton and Man City you see the issue - with Bolton on one side of Radcliffe, Bury on the other, and with Manchester just down the road (look at older schools in Prestwich and they say on the wall 'Manchester Corporation') then its easy to see why soccer flourished. Bury remained in the top flight of football until just before WW1 - I've found no record of any RL being played after 1909(ish) until the Prestwich/Bury RL club of the 1990s!!!!  I can imagine the same was the case throughout Lancashire....


In Bury or North Manchester? Interested in Rugby League? Check out the Rugby League in Bury web-site: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/burybroncos/

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I enjoyed watching Liverpool City at Knotty Ash. I think they struggled to get the locals really involved. Was prop Bill Payne the only local to go far - County rep and later Oldham. They played the Kangaroos in late 50's too. Most of their players from nearby Saints, Wire & Chemics. Something changed about the game in the 60's and Huyton was a move too far. Loved the white shirt and broad green band. As Stanley they played nearer again to the city centre. My dad told me of 4000 crowds pre-war. Subsequent moves killed them off.

 

Mike Brocken's - "Liverpool City RLFC - Rugby league in a football city' is a great read.

Edited by audois

"It involves matters much greater than drafting the new rules...the original and existing games have their own powerful appeal to their players and public and have the sentiments which history inspires"  - Harold 'Jersey' Flegg 1933

"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."  - Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

Si tu( Remi Casty) devais envoyer un fax au Président Guasch? " Un grand bravo pour ce que vous avez fait,et merci de m 'avoir embarqué dans cette aventure"

gallery_02-am31503_5b827265940b7_.jpg

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Anybody know what Geoff Fletcher's up to these days?, hope he's still on the go.

He certainly used to give a tough pre-match teamtalk! (5.35 minutes in)

 

 

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As far as I'm aware. All Manchester schools had to play Union.Which was a directive of the education committee. I can't remember any schools playing League. Which has only changed recent years.

As for Manchester being posher? Oh yeah! Inner city Manchester was really posh.

I think It was a political decision, aimed at taking a swipe at those upstarts who got paid for playing Rugby.


 
 
 
​​ 
 
​THE NORTH OF ENGLAND WITH A POPULATION OF NEARLY 17 MILLION PEOPLE IS THE TRUE EXPANSION AREA FOR RUGBY LEAGUE........IF IT CAN'T EXPAND HERE, WHERE CAN IT EXPAND?
 
 
 
 
 
 
                       ​                       
    
 
                          ​                        
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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As far as I'm aware. All Manchester schools had to play Union.Which was a directive of the education committee. I can't remember any schools playing League. Which has only changed recent years.

As for Manchester being posher? Oh yeah! Inner city Manchester was really posh.

I think It was a political decision, aimed at taking a swipe at those upstarts who got paid for playing Rugby.

Manchester RFC were posher. Lots of small Manchester clubs switched but didn't last. I'll get you information on them this evening, haven't got time before work to look now Edited by bowes

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Manchester RFC were posher. Lots of small Manchester clubs switched but didn't last. I'll get you information on them this evening, haven't got time before work to look now

I'm just old enough to remember Belle Vue Rangers, but only the name.  But to get back to Huyton/Liverpool City, at the time I first began following RL Liverpool were in the second division, their glory days all ahead of them.  But I can see where you're coming from.  After all, to some extent Leeds Utd.'s success in the sixties and seventies are responsible for the demise of the once mighty Hunslet - Championship runners up in 1959, and CC runners up in 1965.


“Few thought him even a starter.There were many who thought themselves smarter. But he ended PM, CH and OM. An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.”

Clement Attlee.

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Liverpool FC were football league champions a couple of times in the Edwardian era and a couple more in the 1920s, Everton won their first title in the 1890s.

 

Liverpool RFC was the world's first "open" rugby club (as in not a school, university or hospital team).  I've seen a quote in a book, from the Liverpool Mercury a couple of years after the NU split, which said "The Rugby Code in Liverpool and district will in a few years be as extinct as a dodo" because there were only a handful of RU clubs left in Lancashire, but switching to NU never seemed to be under consideration by Liverpool.

 

Tony Collins book goes into lots of detail about how and why the division in Lancashire between football and rugby came about, if you're interested.

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They were re-incarnations of Blackpool Borough, although the history is more complex with them splitting into 2 clubs, then Lancashire Lynx and so on.

 

I watched quite a few Huyton games in the late 70s/early 80s and most of Runcorn's home games the season that John Cogger played, he was way too good for that level of RL. Wasn't the best at avoiding trouble in pubs though.

 

Great RL Stalwart that Geoff Fletcher was, he was effectively taking 1/30th share of the money the RFL had coming in and using it for his hobby. Huyton was (and is even more so now) the kind of place that makes other RL playing towns in the north look a bit posh.

 

 

Now lad, yer should know that it depends on what part of Huyton yer from whether it makes some other RL towns posh or not.    Now Alt Park was ready for demolition, well looked like, the first day it was open.    Made any money from the social club, nowt from the number of species. I occasionally stood and watched.  Yer could get a pint their after normal pub closing times and seemed no matter what age yer where.

 

Those were the days...

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Manchester RFC were posher. Lots of small Manchester clubs switched but didn't last. I'll get you information on them this evening, haven't got time before work to look now

Didn't Manchester Rugby Club play in Kersal;Salford, before moving to Cheadle,Cheshire?

Even Bell Vue Rangers were originally a Salford club. Proper Manchester has never really had a tradition of playing either code of Rugby.


 
 
 
​​ 
 
​THE NORTH OF ENGLAND WITH A POPULATION OF NEARLY 17 MILLION PEOPLE IS THE TRUE EXPANSION AREA FOR RUGBY LEAGUE........IF IT CAN'T EXPAND HERE, WHERE CAN IT EXPAND?
 
 
 
 
 
 
                       ​                       
    
 
                          ​                        
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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Didn't Manchester Rugby Club play in Kersal;Salford, before moving to Cheadle,Cheshire?

Even Bell Vue Rangers were originally a Salford club. Proper Manchester has never really had a tradition of playing either code of Rugby.

Yeah Belle Vue Rangers were Broughton Rangers originally.

 

The clubs I have in mind were then villages but are now part of the city of Manchester I believe

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Yeah Belle Vue Rangers were Broughton Rangers originally.

 

The clubs I have in mind were then villages but are now part of the city of Manchester I believe

My point is that some kind of political decision was made behind closed doors, sometime in the past, to exclude Rugby League being played in Manchester schools. Which has had a detrimental effect on the growth of Rugby League at grass roots level in the City. Fortunately this has now changed with some schools and colleges now playing league.


 
 
 
​​ 
 
​THE NORTH OF ENGLAND WITH A POPULATION OF NEARLY 17 MILLION PEOPLE IS THE TRUE EXPANSION AREA FOR RUGBY LEAGUE........IF IT CAN'T EXPAND HERE, WHERE CAN IT EXPAND?
 
 
 
 
 
 
                       ​                       
    
 
                          ​                        
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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My point is that some kind of political decision was made behind closed doors, sometime in the past, to exclude Rugby League being played in Manchester schools. Which has had a detrimental effect on the growth of Rugby League at grass roots level in the City. Fortunately this has now changed with some schools and colleges now playing league.

 

My question would be who made those decisions? Was it the executive or the elected local council members. In teaching training establishments in the north who decided what sports to pursue. I suppose lots of council members had more earnest topics to discuss.


"It involves matters much greater than drafting the new rules...the original and existing games have their own powerful appeal to their players and public and have the sentiments which history inspires"  - Harold 'Jersey' Flegg 1933

"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."  - Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

Si tu( Remi Casty) devais envoyer un fax au Président Guasch? " Un grand bravo pour ce que vous avez fait,et merci de m 'avoir embarqué dans cette aventure"

gallery_02-am31503_5b827265940b7_.jpg

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Okay here goes:

 

1897-98 season

 

Lancashire Second Competition

Barrow

Millom (late entrants)

Ulverston (late entrants)

Radcliffe

Lancaster

Barton

Birkenhead Wanderers

Walkden

Altrincham (called up from third competition late notice to replace Dukinfield)

Fleetwood

Crompton- folded midseason

St Helens Recs- folded midseason

 

Barrow lost to Morecambe in promotion/relegation game

 

Third competition (positions arbitrary)

Werneth (champions)

Whitworth

Leigh Shamrocks

Rochdale Rangers

Warrington St Mary's

Todmorden (late replacements for Altrincham)

Boothstown- failed to complete the season

Mossley- failed to complete the season

Blackley Rangers- failed to start the season

Cheetham Hill- failed to start the season

 

1898-99

Second Competition

Millom

Barrow

Lancaster

Ulverston

Altrincham

Radcliffe

Birkenhead Wanderers

Fleetwood

Blackpool

Barton- failed to complete the season

Walkden- failed to complete the season

 

Millom defeated Morecambe in the promotion/relegation game

 

1899-1900 season

Second competition

Barrow

Werneth

Morecambe

Birkenhead Wanderers

Whitworth

Altrincham

Lancaster

Fleetwood

Radcliffe

Ulverston

Dalton

 

Barrow defeated Tyldesley in the promotion/relegation playoff

 

1900-01 season

Morecambe

Birkenhead Wanderers

Lancaster

Altrincham

Radcliffe

Werneth

Whitworth

Tyldesley

Leigh Shamrocks

Fleetwood- disbanded midseason

 

After this season Morecambe, Birkenhead Wanderers, Lancaster, Altrincham and Radcliffe got elected to the league (Altrincham and Radcliffe got relegated to nowhere after one season). Werneth entered their reserved into the reserve league and Leigh Shamrocks reverted to amateur status in the Central Lancashire League, Tyldesley and Whitworth folded.

 

Source: The rugby league Myth by Micjael Latham and Tom Mather

Edited by bowes
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As for clubs' locations:

 

The clubs that never started the season:

Dukinfield (Tameside; then Cheshire)

Boothstown (Salford)

Mossley (Tameside; then Cheshire)

 

And the clubs that went mid first season

Crompton (Oldham)

St Helens Recs

Blackley Rangers (Manchester)

Cheetham Hill (Manchester)

 

Third competition went after one season but Werneth (who returned) were Oldham based

Barton and Walkden were other Salford clubs. Whitworth were the only east Lancashire side, albeit based just outside Rochdale

 

Looking at that there were two Manchester semi-pro clubs in the third division who folded mid way through their first season and lots of extra Salford, Oldham and Cheshire sides (and in fact Leigh had 3 semi-pro clubs!)

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Liverpool FC were football league champions a couple of times in the Edwardian era and a couple more in the 1920s, Everton won their first title in the 1890s.

 

Liverpool RFC was the world's first "open" rugby club (as in not a school, university or hospital team).  I've seen a quote in a book, from the Liverpool Mercury a couple of years after the NU split, which said "The Rugby Code in Liverpool and district will in a few years be as extinct as a dodo" because there were only a handful of RU clubs left in Lancashire, but switching to NU never seemed to be under consideration by Liverpool.

 

Tony Collins book goes into lots of detail about how and why the division in Lancashire between football and rugby came about, if you're interested.

Which book's this out of interest?

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The one and only Geoff Fletcher!

 

 

118273466-geoff-fletcher-of-wigan-with-m

He's looking well...


"Men will be proud to say 'I am a European'. We hope to see a day when men of every country will think as much of being a European as of being from their native land." (Winston Churchill)

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The one and only Geoff Fletcher!

 

 

118273466-geoff-fletcher-of-wigan-with-m

 

pah! easily fit enough to make the Salford squad today....


In Bury or North Manchester? Interested in Rugby League? Check out the Rugby League in Bury web-site: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/burybroncos/

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As for clubs' locations:

 

The clubs that never started the season:

Dukinfield (Tameside; then Cheshire)

Boothstown (Salford)

Mossley (Tameside; then Cheshire)

 

And the clubs that went mid first season

Crompton (Oldham)

St Helens Recs

Blackley Rangers (Manchester)

Cheetham Hill (Manchester)

 

Third competition went after one season but Werneth (who returned) were Oldham based

Barton and Walkden were other Salford clubs. Whitworth were the only east Lancashire side, albeit based just outside Rochdale

 

Looking at that there were two Manchester semi-pro clubs in the third division who folded mid way through their first season and lots of extra Salford, Oldham and Cheshire sides (and in fact Leigh had 3 semi-pro clubs!)

 

With teams in Blackley and Cheetham Hill (and Prestwich) their was actually a corridor of 'rugby' between Salford, through North Manchester, and extending across to Oldham/Rochdale.  People today refer to the Oldham/Rochdale as almost separate from the 'central' Lancashire heartland but obviously, there were physical linkages in the past. 


In Bury or North Manchester? Interested in Rugby League? Check out the Rugby League in Bury web-site: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/burybroncos/

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Went to Alt Park once with my dad when I was a nipper (1979-ish).

I remember three things:

 

The pitch was about 10 inches long and covered in dandeiions, daisies and buttercups.

Local kids were peeling the corrugated sheets off the stand roof while the game was in progress.

The club had a bloke posted on top of the clubhouse on swivel/office chair keeping an eye on the car-park.

 

Rugby League in Huyton (1982)

 

 

PAR397339.jpg

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Which book's this out of interest?

 

Can't remember which book has the quote about rugby in Liverpool being dead as a dodo, but a quick google turned up this:

 

http://www.davidbohl.webspace.virginmedia.com/LMercury1897.htm

 

Rugby's Great Split: Class, Culture and the Origins of Rugby League Football is the Tony Collins book, which I assume you're familiar with.

Edited by JonM

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