Northern Union - 1895 to 1922
Warrington reached the Challenge Cup Final again following easy wins over Batley (34-9), Hull (160), Huddersfield (15-7) and Swinton (21-0). The Cup was won for a second time by beating Oldham 17-3 in the final at Broughton. Tries from Isherwood, Fish and Hockenhull and four goals by Fish helped see Warrington home before a crowd of 18,500. Thousands of townsfolk crowded the train station to meet their conquering heroes. A band played the team to the Town Hall where a reception was expected, but incredibly it was locked, someone had forgotten the local heroes.
The 1906/7 season had been the most successful so far with a creditable 8th place in the league and two cup final appearances. The reduction in the number of players to thirteen had benefited Warrington's exciting backline, with Ernie Brookes scoring 26 tries and Jackie Fish 24.
Mr. Harry Ashton of Warrington was elected President of the Northern Union.
The first tour of Britain by New Zealand took place. Warrington beat Albert H. Baskerville's touring "All Golds" 8-7, before a crowd of 8,000. Fish and Taylor scored the tries and George Thomas kicked a goal.
Warrington played Wakefield Trinity at West Ham, in an exhibition match.
George Thomas played in the first ever International Match, for Wales against the touring New Zealanders, on New Years day at Aberdare. He also
played for Great Britain against New Zealand, to become Warrington's first ever Test player.
The players were told that they must attend twice weekly practice games before the season began, but several Welsh players failed to turn up and missed early season fixtures.
A new ten-year lease was granted on Wilderspool by Greenall Whitley.
In the summer, William Dowell and William O'Neill, Welsh Rugby Union international forwards signed for Warrington from Pontypool and Cardiff respectively.
The first Australian tour began in October. Warrington played the tourists twice. The first was won by Warrington 10-3, Fish and Taylor scored the tries with Fish and Isherwood kicking a goal each. The Australians disappointed at losing requested a re-match. This time the match ended in an 8-8 draw. Fish and Jenkins being the try scorers and Thomas kicking a goal.
In December Ernie Brookes played stand-off, scoring a try and two goals and George Dickenson was in the centre, in the first ever Anglo Australian Test Match, in the historic 22-22 draw at Park Royal, London.
George Dickenson and Ernie Brookes played for England against Wales, William Neill and William Dowell represented Wales.
Ernie Brookes retained his place at stand-off for the final two tests against the Australians. Two of the Australian test players, speedy winger Dan Frawley and forward Larry "Jersey" O'Malley signed for Warrington and remained in England.
Frank Shugars became Warrington's first tourist when he was selected for the 1910 tour of Australasia
In April, Warrington recorded their highest score at that time by beating St Helens 78-3. George Thomas scores a record 33 points with five tries and nine goals. In total Warrington scored 20 tries, with Bradshaw also scoring five tries.
Frank Shugars gained the first of his five Welsh caps against England.
Warrington lost to Leeds 11-10 in the Challenge Cup semi-final at Broughton. Tries by Dickenson and McIntyre and two goals from McIntyre were not sufficient to see Warrington to progress to their fifth final in ten years.
Frank Shugars became Warrington's first tourist when he was selected for the 1910 tour of Australasia. He played in one test against New Zealand. The tourists sailed from Tilbury on 15th April and returned home on
On 9th October Wilderspool held its first representative match. Lancashire lost 28-7 to Cumberland in front of a crowd of 4,000.
On 29th November Jimmy Tranter received £4 to sign on and his junior club, Newton received £5.
On 30th December the Australian tourists recorded their first win at Wilderspoool when the defeated Warrington 34-6. A crowd of 8,500 saw the tourists comfortable victory, Johnson and Bradshaw scored tries for the home side.
February, Jackie Fish plays his 321st and final match, at Coventry and scores his 215th try for the Club. He is still second on the Warrington all time try scoring list
In the same month Arthur Skelthorn signed from Stockton Heath, both he and his junior club received a £5 signing-on fee.
In September the first section of the new north stand was opened. It was built by H. Fairclough Ltd, seated 900 and cost £1,500. It was opposite the old grandstand. It was opened prior to the 16-10 win over Leigh by Mr Thomas Locker, the Club President.
In 1914 the ground was purchased from Greenall Whitley. The freehold was held in trust for Club members until it became a limited company in 1941
Bad light during the winter months led to many matches being abandoned and so the Northern Union proposed earlier kick-offs. Warrington and Widnes proposed playing for 70 minutes instead of 80, but the Northern Union proposal was adopted.
In the first round of the Challenge Cup Warrington drew with junior club Normanton St Johns 6-6. Two days later Warrington made only two team changes and won the replay at Wilderspool 75-0, with 19 tries.
Rhys Thomas a Welsh Rugby Union international forward
16th September. Jackie Fish was awarded a testimonial, and received the sum of £268 15s 11d.
Warrington reached their fifth Challenge Cup Final, with wins over Keighley, Hull KR, Salford and Dewsbury. The Final was lost 9-5 to the mighty Huddersfield team of "All-Stars". Warrington scored first through a try by Bradshaw converted by Jolley and gave a wonderful display in what was considered to be the best Cup Final of the pre-war era.
A disappointing league season had seen Warrington finish 18th, their lowest pre Great War. So the Challenge Cup performances were a tremendous achievement.
On 15th November the referee, Mr Crabtree was carried off injured in the match at Broughton Rangers. A touch judge took over and Warrington lost 0-12.
In January the players went on strike over the payment of a £1 bonus. George Thomas addressed a 4,000 strong crowd at Wilderspool, after an "A" team game, to explain their grievances. This was the second time that the players had been on strike at the Club. The committee refused to give way and the players backed down.
The ground was purchased from Greenall Whitley. The freehold was held in trust for Club members until it became a limited company in 1941.
Billy and Tommy Cunliffe joined Warrington from amateur club Pemberton Rovers. They played over 750 games for the Club between them.
25 players from the Club enlisted in the Forces and they agreed to a 15% reduction in playing terms.
On January 16th efforts by the Warrington Fire Brigade to remove water from the pitch fail. The game against Leeds still went ahead but the referee had to abandon the match after 65 minutes with the score 3-3, the result stood.
A Warrington v Wigan midweek match had to be postponed because Warrington had so many of their players on Government work that they could not raise a team.
Wilderspool staged its second Challenge Cup semi-final by hosting the 5-5 draw between St Helens and Rochdale Hornets. A crowd of 10,000 witnessed the tense match.
At the AGM of the Northern Union in June 1915 it was declared that "except for schoolboys and intermediates under eighteen years of age, competitive football under Northern Union rules would be suspended for the duration of the war".
Warrington did not take part in the series of friendly games arranged for the 1915/16 season. As a result a number of players played for Runcorn.
On 3rd July, George Thomas was killed in action on the Somme. An eye witness reported that he was "blown to pieces" by a German shell. He was only just 35.
Warrington resumed playing friendly matches. The first, a friendly at Leigh in September is lost 3-29. Warrington had difficulty raising a team and play a stranger, called Wheeler, at full-back. He was picked up at the railway station after he said that he had played before.
St Helens were struggling to carry on playing, so when they visited Wilderspool in October, with a very young team, Warrington paid them expenses for fulfilling the fixture.
In November, Swinton arrived at Wilderspool with only four players. They borrowed six Warrington reserves and played the match with ten men. The delayed kick-off meant that the game finished in semidarkness and, not surprisingly, Warrington won 33-0.
On 14th September JE Warren died at the age of 58. He had been one of the finest football reformers of his day, he was a great organiser and was largely responsible for establishing the Club as a force in the Northern Union.
The Armistice was signed in November and the ban on competitive football was removed. Over 90 past and future Warrington players served in the Forces during the war.
After three friendly matches a short season of county leagues took place. Warrington finishing fourth in the Lancashire League.
R.F. Anderton and S. Jones were appointed Secretary and Treasurer, respectively for the first season after the Great War. Mr T. Pemberton retired as Treasurer after 37 years service.
In October 1921, Warrington became the first side to defeat the touring Australians, 8-5.
The Entrance prices for matches were, 1s 3d on the enclosure side and 9d on the Popular side.
Many of the pre-war players returned to the Club and a number joined from the disbanded Runcorn club. Forty-five new players were signed by the Club during the season. The first match was at Wilderspool and was won 7-5 against Oldham. Tommy Cunliffe scored the try and Ben Jolley kicked 2 goals.
Alf Peacock, became Warrington's first specialist hooker when he joined the Club after the war, receiving £7 10s as a signing on fee.
On 27th December full-back Ben Jolley scored his only try for Warrington in a 15-4 win at Wigan. Jolley played a total of 282 matches for Warrington. Oddly enough he scored 5 tries in 30 appearances during the war-time matches, which are not counted as official matches. The Corporation Fire Engine was called in to pump water off the pitch, in order to allow the Christmas games to proceed after very heavy rainfall.
Bill Cunliffe and Arthur Skelhorn were selected for the Great Britain tour of Australasia. They both played at prop in the final test against Australia which Great Britain won 23-13. Skelhorn played in all three tests in New Zealand and Cunliffe in the first two. All three tests were won 31-7, 19-3 and 11-10.
Additional land was purchased on the north side of the ground to facilitate ground improvements. The stand on the popular side was re-roofed and a low wall built in front for banking purposes to improve the view of spectators. 300 yards of drains were repaired and this considerably improved the drainage.
Jackie Hamblett joined the Wilderspool groundstaff.
The highlight of the year was the defeat of St Helens Recs, at Wilderspool, 12-5. The Warrington side gave a great exhibition of rugby in a match that was interrupted by a terrific downpour of rain. Peacock and McNulty scored tries and Jolley kicked 3 goals.
In March, Wilderspool experienced its first 20,000 crowd, when 23,206 fans see the Challenge Cup first round replay against Hull. A Bradbury hat-trick helps Warrington through to the next round, 16-5.
Wilderspool underwent a series of changes. The north west wall and turnstiles were built. The formation of offices and the committee room under the stand were also completed. 700 loads of soil were laid on the pitch and this allowed a levelling process, it turned a very poor pitch into a good one.
Frank Williams was discovered playing in the Warrington Works Competition, for Cheshire Lines and received a £25 signing on fee. He went on to make 352 appearances for Warrington and score 87 tries, then a record for a forward at Wilderspool.
In October, Warrington became the first side to defeat the touring Australians, 8-5. The magnificent victory was sealed with 4 goals by Jolley, in front of 16,000 delighted spectators. The Kangaroos returned to Wilderspool later in the tour, only to lose their second match this time 8-6 to Lancashire.
Bill Cunliffe and Arthur Skelhorn were back together at prop for all three test matches against the Australians. Great Britain again triumphed by winning two matches of the three test series.
In December, Warrington won their first Lancashire Cupby beating Oldham 7-5, at the Cliffe, the home ofBroughton Rangers. A try by winger Bradbury and twopenalty goals by Ben Jolley saw Warrington home andskipper Jack Prescott lift the trophy.
Full back Ben Jolley became the firstWarrington player to kick 50 goals in a season.Despite missing 10 consecutive matches through injury.
A heavy trading loss of over £1,000 and a similar spendon land and ground improvements put theClub in a very poor financial position, with debts ofover £2,500.