Wednesday, December 21, 2005

History of St Helens Rugby League Club

1873-1899
1873
Nov 19, St. Helens RFC formed at the Fleece Hotel by William Douglas Herman
1890
Sep 6, Saints defeat Manchester Rangers in the first match played at Knowsley Road
1895
Aug 29, St. Helens, along with 20 other clubs, resign from the Rugby Union at a meeting held at the George Hotel in Huddersfield.
1895
Sep 7, Saints defeat Rochdale Hornets 8-3 at Knowsley Road in their inaugural Northern Union fixture.
1897
Apr 24, Batley defeat Saints 10-3 in the inaugural Challenge Cup final played at Headingley.

1900-1909
1906
Jan 1, Frank Lee and Tommy Barton appear for England in the 3 all draw with the Other Nationalities at Wigan, and thus become the club's first Internationals.
1906
The number of players on each side reduced from 15 to 13 and Line Outs abolished
1908
In December, scum half Arthur Kelly becomes Saints' first colonial import.
1909
Feb 10, Saints defeat the first Australian Tourists 9 nil.
1909
Apr 12, Warrington inflict upon St. Helens their record defeat 78-6.

1910-19
1912
Billy Briers announces his retirement. The last playing member who had defeated Rochdale Hornets in the first Northern Union match, Billy had scored 114 tries for the club in 512 appearances.
1913
St. Helens Recs join the Lancashire Combination.
1915
May 1, Huddersfield defeat Saints by a record 37 points to 3 in the Challenge Cup final played at Watersheadings, Oldham.
1917
Due to a shortage of players, 12 aside rugby is introduced.
1918
Jan 31, Saints are defeated 22 nil by Widnes. They then 'close down' due to a lack of finances.
1918
Dec 25, Saints re open and are beaten 20 points to nil by St. Helens Recs at City Road, in a friendly fixture.
1919
Jan 18, Competitive rugby restarts and Saints are defeated by St. Helens Recs 24-3 at Knowsley Road. This is the first 'official' fixture between the teams.

1920-29
1920
Dec 26, 24,000 fans pack Knowsley Road for the 'derby' encounter against Wigan and see Lord Derby open the new Pavilion.
1922
Stan and George Lewis sign from Pontypool RUFC, making their debuts in the 24-3 home victory over Featherstone Rovers.
1923
Jessie Skepper helped form Saints' Supporters' Club.
1926
Mar 27, Alf Ellaby scores two tries on his debut against Keighley at Knowsley Road.
1926
Nov 20, Saints defeat arch rivals St. Helens Recs by 10 points to 2 at Wilderspool, Warrington to win the Lancashire Cup for the first time. It was Saints' first major trophy triumph.
1927
Alf Ellaby finishes the season with 50 tries for Saints. A record!
1928
Seven players from St. Helens are selected to tour 'Down Under' for the 1928 Tour. These are thus the first Saints' or Recs' players to earn such a honour. Alf Ellaby, Les Fairclough, Alf Frodsham and Ben Halfpenny were selected from Saints, whilst the Recs provided Frank Bowen, Oliver Dolan and Albert Fildes.
1929
Oct 26, Arthur Atkinson of Castleford, converts a penalty kick from 75 yards, at Knowsley Road. He was kicking towards the Dunriding Lane end of the ground and was assisted by the wind! Castleford won 20-10.

1930-39
1930
May 3, Widnes surprisingly defeat Saints 10-3 in the Challenge Cup final. It was only the second final to be played at Wembley.
1932
Mar 5, Alf Ellaby scores 6 tries against Barrow. The first Saint to achieve such a feat.
May 7, St. Helens defeat Huddersfield 9-5 at Bell Vue, Wakefield to win the League Championship for the first time.
Alf Ellaby and Albert Fildes (now a Saint) are selected for the 1932 Tour.
1937
Saints become a Limited Liability Company.
1939
Jan 1, Saints defeat St. Helens Recs 5-3 at City Road, in their last ever meeting.

1940-49
1945
Aug 25, Widnes beat Saints 20-8 at Naughton Park, in their first post 2nd World War match.
1949
Jan 18, Stan McCormick signs for Saints from Bell Vue Rangers for a then record £4000.
Dec 26, a ground record 35,695 fans turn up to watch Saints play Wigan.

1950-59
1950
In January, the Training pitch was laid down.
1951
In February, the newly-completed Eccleston Kop covered enclosure was opened and was named after Supporters Club Secretary George Eddington.
Nov 10, Gt. Britain v New Zealand 1st Test at Swinton was the first televised Test Match
1952
Jan 12, Wigan v Wakefield Trinity encounter becomes fist televised League match.
Apr 19, first televised Wembley final took place between Workington Town andFeatherstone Rovers.
Wigan and Gt. Britain legend, Jim Sullivan, become St. Helens' first full time manager/ coach.
1953
Saints finish the 1952/3 season top of the League, go all season undefeated 'away' from home, win the Lancashire League and League Championship and are defeated 15-10 by Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup final.
1954
In September, the new scoreboard is used for the first time.
1955
Apr 22, Alex Murphy signs for Saints on his 16th Birthday.
1956
Apr 11, Alex Murphy makes his Saints debut in the 21-7 home victory over Whitehaven.
Apr 28, tries by Frank Carlton, Steve Llewellyn and skipper, Alan Prescot, together with two Austin Rhodes conversions enable Saints to defeat Halifax by 13 points to 2 to secure the club's first Challenge Cup final success.
Nov 24, St. Helens defeat Australia by a record 44 points to 2.
1957
Oct 26, Tom Van Vollenhoven scores a try on his debut as Saints defeat Leeds 36-7 at Knowsley Road, in front of 23,000 spectators.
1958
Six Saints players are selected to tour. Alan Prescott was named as Gt. Britain's captain and Frank Carlton, Vince Karalius, Glynn Moses, Alex Murphy and Ab Terry were chosen alongside him.
In August, the club's new grandstand is opened by Sir Harry Pilkington. The structure cost £32,000 and can seat 2,400.
1959
Saints top a thousand points in a league season for the first time. Their 1005 points came from 31 wins and a draw in their 38 matches. The finished in first position.
May 16, St. Helens defeat Hunslet by 44 points to 22 at Odsal Stadium to win one of the greatest ever League Championship finals.
Tom Van Vollenhoven finishes the season with a phenomenal 62 tries for the club. This smashed Alf Ellaby's 32 year old record and no one has bettered this total since.

1960-69
1961
May 13, Tom Van Vollenhoven scores one of the best tries ever seen in a Challenge Cup final as Saints defeat Wigan 12-6.
In September, new metal goal posts replaced the wooden originals after storm damage.
1962
The new popular side enclosure is erected. The old wooden structure that it replaced was given to Liverpool City for their ground at Knotty Ash.
1964
Oct 24, Saints defeat Swinton 12-4 at Wigan to win their 5th consecutive Lancashire Cup, in their 7th successive final.
1965
Jan 27, Saints' new floodlighting system opened by Sir Harry Pilkington.
1966
Saints finish the 1965/66 season with four trophies in one of their most successful seasons. The League Leaders Trophy, Lancashire League, Challenge Cup and League Championship all end up in the trophy cabinet.

1970-79
1971
May 22, Saints beat Wigan 16-12 at Station Road, Swinton to claim back to back League Championship Trophies for the first time.
1972
May 13, Graham Rees's first minute try helps Saints defeat Leeds 16-13 in the Challenge Cup final.
Six tackle rule introduced.
Timekeeper's hooter introduced.
1973
Bar and restaurant complex opened at Dunriding Lane end of the Knowsley Road Stadium.
1974
Drop goal devalued to one point.
1975
Saints win Division One Championship for the only time.
1976
St. Helens complete a Challenge Cup and Premiership Trophy 'double' and undertake a pioneering club tour to Australia and New Zealand.

1980-89
1983
Sin bin introduced.
Try value increased to four points.
Hand over after 6 tackles introduced.
Players dug outs are moved from Main stand to popular side.
1984
Oct 7, Mal Meninga and Phil Veivers make their Saints debuts in the 30 points to 16 victory over Castleford at Knowsley Road.
Oct 28, two tries by Mal Meninga inspire Saints, who beat Wigan 26-18, to win the Lancashire Cup for the first time in 16 years.
1985
Saints defeat hot favourites Hull KR 36-16 at Elland Road, to win the Premiership Trophy.
1986
Sep 14, St. Helens defeat Carlisle 112 nil, at Knowsley Road, in a 1st Round Lancashire Cup tie. A club record. Centre Paul Loughlin kicks 16 goals and finishes the match with 40 points-both also club records!
1987
May 2, centre, Mark Elia has the ball sensationally knocked from his grasp as he was diving to score a vital late try as Halifax defeat Saints 19-18 in the Challenge Cup final.
1988
St. Helens defeat Leeds 15-14, at Central Park, to win the John Player Trophy for the only time.
1989
Apr 29, Wigan defeat Saints 27 nil in the Challenge Cup final.
In September, work starts on 9 Executive Boxes and an electronic scoreboard at the Dunriding Lane end of the Knowsley Road Stadium

1990-99
1991
Blood bin introduced.
Sep 15, Saints defeat Trafford Borough 104-12, at Knowsley Road in a 1st Rnd Lancashire Cup tie. Only the 2nd time in the club's history that over 100 points has been scored in one match.
1992
St. Helens defeat Wigan 17 nil, at Gateshead, to win the Charity Shield for the only time.
1993
Saints lose out to Wigan, the Division One Championship, on points difference. They gain ample revenge by defeating their fierce rivals 10-4, at Old Trafford, in the Premiership Trophy final, thus denying Wigan the 'Grand Slam'.
1995
In goal judges introduced.
Summer Super League concept agreed to commence in 1996.
In August, St. Bernard becomes Saints' mascot.
In November, Paul Newlove signs for Saints, from Bradford Northern in a dealsaid to be worth £500.000. A record!
1996
In January, Shaun McRae is appointed St. Helens Coach.
Sky TV's Big Screen Video Referee introduced.
Mar 31, St. Helens defeat Workington Town 62 nil, at Derwent Park, in their first ever Super League match.
Apr 27, Saints defeat Bradford Bulls 40-32, in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley. It is Saints' first Challenge Cup success for 20 years and is regarded by many as being the best ever final!
Aug 26, St. Helens defeat Warrington 66-14, in front of 18,098 fans, at Knowsley Road, to claim the inaugural Super League Championship. It's their first such triumph for 21 years.
A record eight St. Helens players are chosen to tour with Gt. Britain. They are Keiron Cunningham, Bobbie Goulding, Karle Hammond, Joey Hayes, Alan Hunte, Chris Joynt, Steve Prescott and Anthony Sullivan.
1997
May 3, Saints retain the Challenge Cup for the first time by defeating Bradford Bulls 32-22, at Wembley.
1998
Ellery Hanley named as Sean McRae's successor as Saints' Head Coach.
1999
Oct 9, St. Helens win their first Super League Grand Final, by defeating Bradford Bulls by 8 points to 6 at Old Trafford.

2000-to date
2000
Jan 22, Saints defeated by Melbourne Storm 44-6 in the World Club Challenge played at the JJB Stadium, Wigan.
Oct 14, Saints retain their Super League crown by defeating Wigan Warriors 29-16, in the Grand Final, at Old Trafford.
2001
Jan 26, St. Helens are crowned as 'Champions of the World' for the very first time following their magnificent 20 points to 18 victory over highly fancied Brisbane Broncos, at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.
Apr 28, Saints defeat Bradford Bulls 13-6, at Twickenham, to win the Challenge Cup for the 8th time, thus claiming to hold all 3 available trophies.
May 13, At the official 'Civic Reception' at the Town Hall, following an Open Topped Bus tour of the town, St. Helens Council bestow upon the club the honour of 'Freedom of the Borough of St. Helens'
Jun 30, Chris Joynt makes his 87th successive appearance for the club, at Hull FC, thus breaking Harold Smith's 72 year old club record.
2002
Apr 27, Wigan Warriors defeat Saints 21-12 in the Challenge Cup Final at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.
2002, Aug 23, Chris Joynt scores his 116th try for the club v Halifax Blue Sox, thus overtaking Billy Briers' 90 year old club record for tries scored by a 'forward'.
2002, Oct 19, Sean Long's last minute drop goal wins the Super League Grand Final for St. Helens. Their 19-18 victory over Bradford Bulls was attained in one of the closest, most exciting RL finals.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

History of Leeds Rugby League Club

How it all began 1864 - 1900
The first record of a rugby club in Leeds dates back to 1864 when HI Jenkinson placed advert in the Leeds Mercury inviting players to meet up at Woodhouse Moor a few days a week from 7 to 8am. That advert attracted over 500 members. From this initial interest several clubs were formed including Leeds St Johns who were to become what we know today as Leeds Rhinos.St Johns, who were formed in 1870, were originally known as the Old "Blue & Ambers," and played on the Cardigan Fields ground. The membership was originally confined to the church classes but was soon expanded. By 1887 St. Johns had reached their first Cup Final, the Yorkshire Cup. The team on that day was JW Hutton, R Walters, W Gray, JH Potter, R Burrell, W Place, J Illingworth, EG Load, JW Moore, J Milner, C Macmillan, G Naylor, JA Storer, B West and J Watmough. The lost out on the day to a strong Wakefield Trinity side but the seed of success had been sown.
Three years later the biggest change in Leeds sport was about to happen. In 1888 leading citizens and sportsmen of Leeds, came up with a plan to create a premier club for the city and they agreed to purchase Lot 17a at the sale of the Cardigan Estates. They did and Lot 17a became the finest cricket and rugby stadium in the country, to which everybody knows today as Headingley.
Leeds St. Johns played their last season as St. Johns in 1889-90 and their first as the Football Section of the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Co. Ltd. the following season. The Leeds clubs first ever game was against Otley at the old Cardigan Fields ground as Headingley was not ready for the start of the season however a fortnight later the first match on the new ground was against Manningham on September 20 1890. Leeds played in terra cotta and green jerseys won through by four points to nil.
Leeds were one of the breakaway clubs who formed the Northern Union (Rugby Football League) in 1895. It is worth noting that the Northern Union played in accordance to Rugby Union rules for the first two seasons before changing the scoring system in 1897 and then dropping two players in 1906.
Lean Beginnings 1900-1910
The first decade of the new century was one of disappointed for Leeds. The years since the formation of the Northern Union had seen Leeds sign plenty of players but success had eluded them indeed in the 1899-1900 season, the club used more than 50 players with 28 of those making their debut.
The first game of the new century brought victory however against Hull KR at Headingley wining 8-0. The situation looked brighter in 1901 when the Leeds Parish Church team disbanded and put all of their players at Leeds' disposal. Another key moment in 1901 was the formation of the Northern Rugby League, with a number of leading Yorkshire and Lancashire clubs forming their own league. Leeds were not admitted until the following year when they were placed in the second division and quickly gained promotion as runners-up to Keighley. The club has never been out of the top division since then.
But then came 1910 and Leeds finally lived up to their potential. The team finished in sixth place in the league but that was just a warm up for the Challenge Cup campaign. Leeds beat Hull KR, Rochdale, Keighley and then Warrington in a tense semi final, just scraping through 11-10 before meeting Hull in the final. Rain on the morning of the game meant conditions were against flowing rugby. In an incredibly tight game the scores were level at 7-7 with fifteen minutes left however neither team could break the deadlock and the final went to a replay two days later again at Fartown. Leeds made no mistake this time and ran out convincing 26-12 winners after leading 16-0 at half time. The Leeds team that day were: Young, Rowe, Gillie, Goldthorpe, Barron, Ware, Fawcett, Webster, Harrison, Topham, Ward, Jarman, Whitaker.
Continuing the work 1911-1920
The second decade of the century was another of frustration and continual work for Leeds. The club, like so many, lost many players to the Great War and the usual league programme was interrupted during 1914-1918.
1914 did see Leeds make their first Championship Final against the all conquering Huddersfield team. Leeds had beaten Wigan at Central Park in the semi final but found Huddersfield too strong in the final, going down 35-2, a record score at the time. The Leeds team were: Lewis, WH Davies, WA Davies, Campbell, Jenkinson, Jones, Sanders, Chilcott, Carter, Rees, Ward, Webster, Godward.
During this period, Leeds played a number of "guest players" in the Emergency League competition. On 24th March 1917, Leeds reverted back to rugby union to play a one off challenge game against the Royal Navy Depot from Plymouth as a morale booster for the public. This then became a pre-cursor to the following Christmas when two Challenge games were organised between the two sides but this time with one of each code. The Navy won the union game 9-3 on Christmas Eve but proved equally adapt at league recording a 24-3 win on 28th December.
With the return to the full fixture list in 1919, Leeds made it through to the Yorkshire Cup Final only to lose out to Huddersfield again. On a frosty ground at Halifax, Huddersfield romped home by 24-5.
Becoming a force 1921-1930By the 1920s Leeds were starting to emerge as a force in the game. 1921 saw a return to Thrum Hall for the Yorkshire Cup Final and Leeds were not going to be denied this time. They beat Dewsbury 11-3 with the inspirational Jim Bacon scoring two tries. The Leeds team was Roberts, Walmsey, WA Davies, Bacon, WH Davies, Brittain, Brown, Gould, Hardaker, Godwad, Boagey, Pearson, Ward.
The good form was continued in 1923, when Leeds won the Challenge Cup for the second occasion. The famous Busy B's of Buck, Bacon, Binks and Brittain were the toast of the team and Leeds routed Hull in the final at Wakefield by 28-3. The Leeds team was: Walmsley, Buck, Bowen, Bacon, Lyons, Binks, Brittain, Trusler, Jackson, Dixon, Davis, Thompson and Ashton.
However, the early optimism of the decade could not be maintained and it was not until 1928 that Leeds returned to a Final, reaching the Championship Final which went to a replay against Huddersfield after a 2-2 draw in the first match. Huddersfield eventually won the replay 10-0. There was some revenge six months later as Leeds finished the decade with the Yorkshire Cup in the trophy cabinet with none of the opposition scoring a try in the six games leading to victory. A young Australian winger called Eric Harris scored that day and his arrival at the club made sure that the next decade was to become one of the most memorable in the club's history.
The Toowoomba Ghost 1931-1940
September 1930 saw Jeff Moores, the club captain, return from Australia with an unknown Eric Harris. Harris played nine season in total for Leeds scoring 391 tries in 383 games, including 63 tries during the 1935-36 season, a record that remains to this day. In his first season, 1930-31 Leeds reached the Championship Final for the second year running, however a change of opposition, Swinton, did not change the previous outcome as Leeds lost out 14-7 at Wigan.
The defeat against Swinton was avenged in 1932 when Leeds won their third Challenge Cup at Wigan in front of a crowd of 29,000. It was no surprise that Harris scored the games only try, a breathtaking effort down the touchline. The other points that day came from the boot of prop Joe Thompson, the Welsh captain of Leeds in the Final. The team was: Brough, Harris, Moores, O'Rourke, Goulthorpe, Williams, Adams, Lowe, Thompson, R Smith, Cox, Douglas, Glossopp.
The success continued the following year with the Yorkshire Cup re-captured with a resounding win over Wakefield 8-0. The feat was matched in 1934 although it took two replays against Wakefield to finally separate the teams, after 5-5 and 2-2 draw, Leeds eventually won 13-0 at Hunslet.
However, all the previous success was surpassed in 1936 as Leeds travelled to London for their first appearance at the new Empire Stadium at Wembley. Leeds equalled Huddersfield record for Cup wins with their fourth via a 18-2 win over Warrington in a disappointing Final. The team that day were: Brough (c), E Harris, F Harris, Parker, Brogden, Ralph, Williams, Hall, Satterthwaite, Dyer, Jubb, Casewell, Isaac. Leeds also added the Yorkshire Cup that season with Stan Smith scoring the only points with his try securing a 3-0 over York.
On 12th May 1937, Coronation Day, Leeds played an exhibition game against Salford with 12-a-side, with the loose forward being taken out, Leeds won 15-9.
The Golden Thirties were coming to an end now but Leeds were again at the forefront and one of the highlights of the decade came at Elland Road in 1938. Leeds had already secured yet another Yorkshire Cup the previous October against Huddersfield and came into the Championship Play Offs behind City rivals Hunslet. The semi finals went to form and although the final had initially been booked for Wakefield, both Leeds and Hunslet asked for the game to be moved to Elland Road. A crowd of over 54,000 watched the all Leeds Final which Hunslet won 8-2. The Leeds team was: Eaton, E Harris, Williams, Brogden, Smith, Hey, Jenkins, Satterthwaite, Murphy, Prosser, Tattersfield, Dyer, Duffy.
War interrupts again 1941-1950
At the start of the next decade Leeds once again found themselves playing in a war time Emergency League with a number of "guest players" filling the ranks. Leeds reached their fifth Challenge Cup Final in 1941, remarkably winning for the fifth time. 29,000 spectators witnessed the Final at Odsal with Leeds winning 19-2 against Halifax. The team was Eaton, Batten, Evans, Hey, Lawrenson, Morris, Jenkins, Prosser, Murphy, Bennett, Satterthwaite, Pearson, Tattersfield.
The Cup was then retained the following year again against Halifax at Odsal. The Leeds team included some notable guest players. The team was: Brough, Edwards, Risman (both Salford), Hey, Evans, Morris, Jenkins, Prosser, Murphy, Satterthwaite, Gregory (of Warrington), Brown (of Batley), Tattersfield. Leeds won 15-10, Edwards scoring two tries. It is of note that the Leeds fullback Jim Brough was 39 in the Final.
The run in the Cup came to an end in 1943 but only just! In a two-legged Final against Dewsbury, Leeds lost the first leg 16-9 and then recorded a 6-0 win at Headingley, losing the Cup by a single point.
There was a return to the Final in 1947 when Leeds faced their local rivals Bradford Northern back at Wembley after the end of hostilities. Bradford won through by 8-4 in a game that did not live up to expectations. The Leeds team was: Cook, Cornelius, Price, TL Williams, Whitehead, R Williams, Jenkins, Prosser, Murphy, Brereton, Watson, Clues, Owen. Two notable names in that side were Bert Cook, a goal kicking Kiwi, and the legendary Australian second row Arthur Clues who earned a place in Leeds folklore during eight years distinguished service.
Leeds finished the decade with yet another appearance in the Yorkshire Cup Final however the disappointing run continued with a third defeat in a row in Finals. Wakefield won after a replay 7-8 at Odsal.
Golden Boy Arrives 1951-1960Whilst the first half of the 1950's was a barren spell for Leeds it also saw the most important signing in the clubs history. On 6th November 1952 a delegation from Headingley headed off to Gorseinon, Wales and amazed both rugby codes by paying a record £6,000 for the services of Llanelli and Wales Rugby Union star Lewis Jones. Known as the 'Golden Boy', Jones was to become a Leeds legend during his 12 glittering years at Headingley.
Leeds spent the majority of the decade building a dominant team which would bare fruit in the following years. A signal of intent was given when Leeds won the 1957 Challenge Cup final against Barrow at Wembley by 9 points to 7. The team that day was: P Quinn, D Hodgkinson, K McLellan (c), L Jones, G Broughton, J Lendill, J Stevenson, J Anderson, B Prior, W Hopper, B Poole, D Robinson, H Street. During that same season Jones eclipsed the world record for points scored in a season amassing, 496 points.
Leeds won their first Yorkshire Cup since 1937 in 1958 beating Wakefield in the Final at Odsal in a very open affair, eventually winning 24-20.
However, they were fleeting highlights in the decade, although the shrewd work by the Leeds management was nurturing quality young talent to blend with the world class signings that had always been a trademark of Leeds.
The Holy Grail is captured 1961-1970
Lewis Jones' greatest achievement - and probably Leeds' finest hour - came in 1961. For the first time in the club's history the Rugby League Championship finally came to rest at Headingley.
Under the captaincy of the 'Golden Boy', Leeds defeated the powerful Warrington side at Odsal in the Championship Final by 25 points to 10. Lewis Jones gave an inspirational display in a team which included Australian full-back Ken Thornett, tenacious forwards Don Robinson and Jack Fairbank, the free-scoring Springbok Wilf Rosenberg and the former Roundhay RU centre Derek Hallas, who scored two tries. The team that won that historic match was: Thornett, Rosenberg, Hallas, Hattee, Ratcliffe, Jones, Evans, Robinson, Simms, T Whitehead, Fairbank, Goodwin, Shaw.
Following Leeds' first championship victory in their history the club went into temporary decline until the mid-sixties when the club embarked on a comprehensive youth policy, which would take Leeds into the most illustrious spell in their history. Despite reaching the Yorkshire Cup Final in 1961 and 1964, Leeds lost on both occasions to Wakefield9-19 and 18-2 respectively. However, from 1966 to 1975 Leeds won no less than 20 major trophies.
1966 saw Leeds finish the season as League Leaders and Yorkshire League Champions however progress in the Championship playoff was curtailed against Castleford in the 2nd round. But this was just a taster! In 1967-68 the Yorkshire League Champion and League Leaders trophies were joined by the Challenge Cup as Leeds beat Wakefield in the notorious Watersplash Final. A torrential down pour at Wembley ruined the game and the game ebbed and flowed throughout. Leeds extended their lead to 11-7 through a Bev Risman penalty with a minute to go, however straight from the kick off Wakefield winger Hirst kicked ahead and scored next to the posts. Man of the match Don Fox had a simple conversion to win the game but pushed the ball wide and Leeds had secured the win. The team that day was: Risman, A Smith, Hynes, B Watson, Atkinson, Shoebottom, Seabourne, Clark (c), Crosby, K Eyre, Ramsey, A Eyre, Batten. Subs: Langley, M Joyce.
Leeds finished top of the table in four successive seasons, between 1967-70, as well as winning the 1968 Challenge Cup. This momentous period for Leeds would not be possible without the astute leadership of coaches Roy Francis and Dereck 'Rocky' Turner who between them won every honour inthe game.
There was double joy in 1969 when Leeds won their second Championship. The men from Headingley had beaten Castleford in the Yorkshire Cup Final earlier that season at Wakefield before meeting the same team in the Championship Final at Odsal. Leeds were trailing by 3 points in the last five minutes, before John Atkinson scored a try which was converted by Bev Risman to secure the Championship. The team that day: Risman, Cowan, Hynes, B Watson, Atkinson, Shoebottom, Seabourne, Clark, Crosby, K Eyre, M Joyce, Ramsey, Batten. Subs: Langley, Hick.Leeds finished the decade in the Championship Play Off Final again, losing out to St Helens at Odsal. But there was some consolation with the winning of the European Club Championship, beating Perpignan at Headingley, 31-5.
Home grown heroes 1971-1980
The start of the seventies saw Leeds once again at Wembley although this time there was inglorious defeat against Leigh, going down 24-7. The game will always be remembered for the incident that saw the man of the match Syd Hynes sent off following a clash with Alex Murphy, who folklore says winked at Hynes as he was stretchered off. The Seventies will always be remembered for the local players who came through the ranks under Roy Francis and then Hynes who became the club's first player/coach in June 1975.
1972 was the tale of two teams with Leeds and St Helens playing each other in the Challenge Cup and Championship Final. Saints took the honours at Wembley winning 16-13 however it was to be a different story seven days later. The team at Wembley was Holmes, A Smith, Hynes, Dyl, Atkinson, Hardisty, Hepworth, Clawson, Fisher, Ramsey, Haigh, Cookson, Batten. Subs: Langley. The Championship Final was played at Swinton with Leeds having finished as league leaders. The hero that day was Terry Clawson who kicked three goals allied to an Atkinson try in a 9-5 win.
The following year Leeds were unable to retain the Championship, losing out to Dewsbury at Odsal 22-13. Dewsbury had been thrashed earlier in the season in the Yorkshire Cup Final 36-9 and Leeds added the John Player Trophy to the Yorkshire Cup in March beating Salford 12-7 at Fartown. Leeds retained the Yorkshire Cup the following year beating Wakefield 7-2 in the Final.
In 1974 the Champions were decided by the League Leaders and this led to the inauguration of the Premiership which Leeds won at the first attempt against St Helens 26-11 at Wigan.
The Yorkshire Cup had almost become part of the furniture at Leeds by this stage with five successes in eight years and 1975 saw another win over Hull KR at Headingley by 15-11 but after the previous seasons of glory this was a low return. However that was all to change the following year.
Leeds returned to Challenge Cup Final following tragedy in the final league game of the season. Chris Sanderson was stretchered off at Salford only to die shortly afterwards in hospital and the game was abandoned. Leeds then travelled to Wembley 14 days later for the Final.
Syd Hynes had appointed a young ambitious captain in David Ward, and the drop goal specialist led his team with distinction to the Challenge Cup Final in 1977. Leeds were the underdogs against Widnes, who were appearing in their third consecutive Final, kept the score tight trailing by two points at half time. In the second half they held Widnes pointless and raced to a 16-7 win with Steve Pitchford picking up the Lance Todd Trophy. The team that day was: Murrell, A Smith, Hague, Dyl, Atkinson, Holmes, Dick, M Harrison, Ward, Pitchford, Eccles, Cookson, Fearnley. Subs: Dickinson, D Smith.
Few could believe it when Leeds retained their trophy the following year, fewer still when St Helens led by 10 points early in the game. Leeds had had a disappointing season to that point but that all changed at Wembley. Leeds dramatically won the competition 14-12, having trailed 5-12 at half time. John Holmes put the side ahead with a left foot drop goal, before Ward added his second drop goal to seal the victory.
The curtain was brought down on the decade with another victory in the Premiership Final in 1979 against Bradford by 24-2 and this saw the end of the Golden Era of Leeds as a decade of frustration loomed.
The Barren Years 1981-1990
During a six-year spell as Leeds Coach, Syd Hynes won a major trophy every season and his success' would be a hard act to follow and his departure in 1981 signalled an unstable period. Robin Dewhurst, Maurice Bamford, Malcolm Clift, Peter Fox, Bamford again, Malcolm Reilly and David Ward all trying - and failing - to satisfy the hunger for success.
During this period Leeds only managed to win two trophies, the John Player Trophy in 1983 and the Yorkshire Cup in 1988. The club never gave up and they continued to invest in the best players hoping that something would click and Leeds would rule the game once more.
Players included Lee Crooks and Garry Schofield from Hull, both were proven internationals and cost Leeds world record transfer fees.
Overseas players were still influential in Leeds' make-up. Staggeringly, during the 1984-85 season, Leeds had nine imported players on their books but still finished the season empty-handed. The 1980s must be seen as one of the most barren and frustrating periods in the club's history.
Under the leadership of another former Headingley legend, David Ward, Leeds approached the 1990s in optimistic mood, hoping to rekindle the golden years, but unfortunately this wasn't to be.
They came close to winning the championship in 1989-90 when they finished second to the most successful Rugby League side in the modern era . . . Wigan.
A new beginning 1991 - 2000
Leeds were again signing the big name stars and in June 1990 they captured All Black John Gallagher, rated as the finest Rugby Union full-back in world, but he didn't live up to his expectations and drifted out of the game after several seasons.
At the end of the 1990-91 season David Ward was replaced by Doug Laughton who was rated as one of the best coaches of the modern era, having just guided Widnes to back-to-back League and Premiership titles, so Leeds felt they had the man to re-ignite the flame of success.
He began recruiting the best players, which included the signing of Great Britain captain, Ellery Hanley, completely rebuilding the side and relinquishing the services of the old guard under David Ward.
He also set about creating the finest youth policy in the country which the club had passed by since the 1960s and 70s. One thing Laughton never achieved at Leeds was a major trophy, despite reaching four major finals in his four-year spell at Headingley, which included two successive Challenge Cup finals against Wigan in 1994 and 1995. Laughton shocked the Rugby League world - and Leeds - by resigning at the end of the 1994-95 season.
In the pursuit of Wigan, Leeds had over-stretched their resources and when Dean Bell was brought in to replace Laughton, the club was at it's lowest point since the founding of the club. This change in management also signalled the start of a new era for rugby league, not just for Leeds, but for the whole game in this country. The decision was taken to evolve from a hundreds years of winter rugby and to make rugby league a summer sport. The new competition would have full time professionals at every top-flight club and would marketed itself as the game for all the family at the turn of the millennium.
The first Super League season was an arduous one for Bell and his squad. Stretched by injuries and an inexperienced squad, Leeds struggled in the Super League I. The team narrowly avoided relegation and Leeds CF & A Ltd were endanger of going out of business. In November 1996, the company was bought by Paul Caddick along with the founder of Sheffield Eagles, Gary Hetherington, who was installed as Chief Executive.
A new work ethos was installed at the club and the determination to turn the years of frustration into success. As part of that Leeds paid a world record fee for Wales captain Iestyn Harris from Warrington in April 1997. Harris was the heart of the new Leeds team and he would secure his own place in the club's history during his time at the club.
Super League II saw the newly named Rhinos reach the Challenge Cup semi final and they were the closest challengers to Bradford for the title. In that season, they also took part in the World Club Championship with home and away fixtures against the Adelaide Rams and the North Queensland Cowboys.
Dean Bell subsequently took up a role as Head of Youth Development and he was replaced by Australian Graham Murray as Head Coach. Murray became the catalyst for a new regime at Headingley and inspired his charges to the Inaugural Grand Final at Old Trafford.
But 1998 was to be just a taster of what was to come. 1999 saw a return to Wembley for the final Final at the famous stadium. Leeds beat Wigan, St Helens, Widnes and Bradford on their way to the Final where they met London Broncos. The game started badly for Leeds going 10-0 down, before the Rhinos ran riot. Flying winger Leroy Rivett re-wrote the record books scoring four tries in a 52-16 win. The team that day was: Harris, Rivett, Blackmore, Godden, Cummins, Powell, Sheridan, Fleary, Newton, McDermott, Morley, Farrell, Glanville. Subs: Jackson, Mathiou, Hay, St Hilaire.
At the end of the season Murray returned to Australia and was replaced by his compatriot Dean Lance. In his first season Leeds reached the Challenge Cup Final and recorded a 13 game winning run during the season. However, a poor run of results at the start of the 2001 season saw Lance leave the club and former player Daryl Powell was appointed First Team Coach.

Introduction

The origins of rugby league in Great Britain go back long before the creation in 1895 of the Northern Union. To understand the history of the game, requires an appreciation of the shared "rugby" history before the split and the factors which brought about the creation of the two rugby codes.
In 1800's formalities were introduced to football rules in the seven major public schools of England. Six of the seven schools were largely playing the same game (including Eton, Harrow and Winchester) - while the seventh, Rugby School (founded in 1567) at Warwickshire, was playing a markedly different version of football.
The other schools moved ahead refining their rules and eventually their game became known as "association football" - soccer. How the Rugby School's game developed differently is lost in history and the true story is unlikely to ever be known. The Rugby Football Union's (RFU) much revered tale of how in 1823 the young Rugby School student, William Webb Ellis, "in a fine disregard for the rules" picked up the ball and ran with it in a defining moment in sports history is now accepted by sports historians as being fanciful and a gross distortion of what is known.
There is no doubt that Ellis was a student at Rugby School from 1816 to 1825, but he was never mentioned by anyone as having done the actual deed ascribed to him. The first reference to Ellis appeared in a Rugby School magazine in 1875 (four years after Ellis' death) by an Old Rugbeian, M. Bloxham, who was endeavouring to refute claims that rugby was an ancient game.
Bloxham's story has always been in doubt because of the time that had passed since Ellis supposedly ran with the ball. Bloxham himself wasn't there and no living person could corroborate his version of events. In addition, examination of existing records and documented recollections does not show that the Rugby game dramatically changed after one event (i.e. Ellis or anyone else deciding to run with the ball).
Handling the ball was permitted in football in the early 1800's when players were allowed to take a mark and then a free kick, long before Ellis arrived at Rugby. In fact, most of the public schools allowed forms of handling the ball right up until the formation of the Football Association in the 1860's. The Association even considered whether to allow its continuation, before eventually deciding to outlaw it. The reverse picture that the RFU has painted that the rugby game was born from soccer the moment Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it is clearly, even with very little examination, false.
What is known is that at Rugby School by the 1830's running with the ball was in common use, the goal posts had been extended to 18 feet high (with a cross-bar at 10 feet above the ground) and there were forms of scrummaging and line-outs. The inclusion of the cross-bar was accompanied by a rule that a goal could only be scored by the ball passing over the bar from a place kick or drop kick. Apparently this was done to make scoring easier from further out and also to avoid the horde of defenders standing in the goal mouth.
Players who were able to "touch-down" the ball behind the opponents’ goal line were awarded a "try-at-goal" - the player would make a mark on the goal line and then walk back onto the field of play to a point where a place kick at the goal was possible (a conversion). There was also an "off-your-side" rule used to keep the teams apart and passing the ball forward was not allowed. The rules were first seriously agreed upon and documented when former Rugby students and clubs wanted to commence formal competitions outside of the Rugby School in 1862. Many of the clubs that formed around this period would later become rugby league clubs.
From 1875 when games finished without any goals being scored, the team which had the most "tries-at-goal" was awarded the win. From 1886 three "tries" equalled one goal in points, before the balance finally moved to giving more value to the scoring of tries. By 1893 the scoring was much closer to what we know today - a try was worth three points, a converted try five points, three for a penalty goal and four for a field goal. However, the rugby game was still very brutal and raw with 71 deaths recorded in English rugby from 1890 to 1893 alone.