Early History

Club History Landmarks – Early History

THE LEIGH CLUB’S RUGBY UNION HISTORY

  • 1878 – Club founded. Initially played at Bucks Farm, Pennington.
  • 1879 – Club moved to a new ground – The Three Crowns Field in Bedford.
  • 1881 – With club standing growing every season Leigh took on additional fixtures against the likes of Walkden, Wigan and Tyldesley.
  • 1881/82 – Albion Foundry team formed, many players joined new club but amalgamation saved the future of the Leigh club. Mr A. Warren replaced first secretary, Mr W Wright.
  • 1886 – Leigh went through the season undefeated in 23 games. P. Taylor, a recognised county player joined the club.
  • 1888 – Good form continued – Leigh lost just four games from 32. ‘Doc’ Worthington, a very fast and elusive threequarter who had the unusual honour of representing Lancashire at both rugby and football (or association rules) signed with Tom Coop from Tottington. Coop was regarded the finest player on Leigh’s books and became a regular choice for Lancashire.
  • 1889 – Leigh defeated the touring New Zealand Maori side. In September the club moved headquarters again, this time to Frog Hall Field, Mather Lane.
  • 1892 – Tom Coop represented England against Scotland.
  • 1894 – September 19th – Leigh are suspended for professionalism after Alfred Wallwork, a Wigan player who came to work in Leigh, started playing for the club after his removal expenses had been paid for by club officials. By the end of that season Salford and Wigan had also served suspension for similar offences. The game was strictly amateur at the time.

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THE LEIGH CLUB’S RUGBY LEAGUE HISTORY

  • 1895 – Leigh were one of the founder members of the Northern Union. The season kicked off in September with a 6-3 loss against Leeds. Leigh finish 9th overall.
  • 1898-99 – The team hit the headlines with a magnificent 16-6 win over Batley in the Third Round of The Northern Union Cup. Batley had won the cup in its inaugural year and retained the trophy. Unfortunately a final appearance was denied by Oldham who won in the semi-final.
  • 1899-1900 – A luckless season for Leigh. Star halfbacks Dunbavin and Molyneux miss the majority of the campaign. Dunbavin catches Typhoid Fever while Molyneux was unemployed and ineligible to play from December until February. Missing the guile of the midfield duo, points were a problem with only 5 tries scored in 17 games. Tom Smith and Tom Anderton, great club stalwarts call it a day.
  • 1902-03 -Leigh go 22 matches without scoring a try! Club debts were cleared.
  • 1903-04 – Dunbavin ruled out for the season after a 30 foot fall from a scaffold. Molyneux sold to Swinton for £50.
  • 1904-05 – Leigh found guilty of a breach of the Working Clause. After beating Wigan in the First Round of the Northern Union Cup, The Northern Union Professional Sub-Committee ordered a replay. It had been alleged that Leigh player Silcock had been absent from work the week preceding the game. Without a permit, this was an offence. Wigan won the replay.

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  • 1905-06 – Leigh take part in the inaugural Lancashire Cup and win through to the final with Wigan, only to lose out in a replay. Glory followed however as Leigh are declared Northern Union champions following a superb season, boasting an 80% win rate.
  • 1906-07 – First season of 13-a-side. W Smith scores a record five tries against Liverpool City and finished the season with 24 touchdowns. Molyneux returned to the club and finished top goal-kicker with 20.
  • 1907-08 – Leigh host the New Zealand tourists and run out 15-9 victors before a crowd of some 8,000. The club went on to reach the semi-finals of the Northern Union Cup and Lancashire Cup.
  • 1908-09 – The first Australian touring side tours Britain and Leigh pull off a shock 14-11 victory. Joseph Lavery becomes the first player from overseas to play for the club. Leigh finished 21st in the league.
  • 1909 – Leigh reach a second Lancashire Cup Final only to lose once more to Wigan. Mick Bolewski, one of the stars of the Australian Tour, starts a three season stint with the club. He was the first overseas player to play 100 games. Leigh restarted their A team after several seasons break.
  • 1910 – Consistent forward Billy Winstanley becomes Leigh’s first Australasian tourist.

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  • 1911-12 – Herbert Ganley transferred to Leeds for a record fee paid for a Leigh player at that time.
  • 1915 – Competitive rugby is suspended for the duration of The Great War.
  • 1918 – Ruby resumes with an interim season running from January – May. Leigh finish 2nd.
  • 1920 – Broughton Rangers snatch a third opportunity away from Leigh with a 6-3 victory in the Lancashire Cup Final.
  • 1921 – With scrum-half Walter Mooney in fine form, Leigh win the Challenge Cup with a shock 13-0 win over Halifax at The Cliff, Broughton.

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  • 1922 – Lancashire Cup glory once again beckons for the club, only for Wigan to win 20-2. 1923 – Winger Reg Taylor creates a new season record with 24 touchdowns.
  • 1924 – Jimmy France crosses for 30 tries to take the record. Joe Darwell and Walter Mooney tour Australasia with Great Britain.
  • 1926 – New Zealand visit the town once more and emerge victorious in a hard game, 23-16.
  • 1928 – Fullback Tommy Clarkson becomes the first Leigh player to kick 50 goals in a season.
  • 1933 – Australia play Leigh and run out 16-7 victors before a crowd of 4,590.

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  • 1934 – Leigh play beneath floodlights for the first time, losing 8-25 at London Highfield.
  • 1937 – The touring Australians beat Leigh 11-9.
  • 1938 – Club stalwart Albert Worrall hangs up his boots after a mammoth 503 first team games. 1940 – Leigh succumb to a club record 60-8 defeat at Salford.
  • 1941 – Leigh cease operations for the duration of the Second World War.
  • 1946 – Like a phoenix, Leigh emerge from the rugby league shadows and play a season at Charles Street.

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  • 1947 – Leigh move to their new Kirkhall Lane headquarters, and tour Cornwall in a 3 game exhibition with Barrow.
  • 1948 – International fullback Jimmy Ledgard joins Leigh from Dewsbury in a record £2,650 transfer.
  • 1949 – Leigh lose a fourth Lancashire Cup Final to Wigan. French champions Roanne visited town and Leigh ground out a 2-0 victory.
  • 1950 – Leigh break the transfer record once more with the £5,000 signing of Wigan hooker Joe Egan. The club undertook a short tour of France with games against Catalan and Perpignan.
  • 1952 – Leigh win the Lancashire Cup for the first time with a resounding 22-5 victory over St Helens at Swinton.

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  • 1953 – Floodlights installed at Kirkhall Lane at a cost of £4,100. A record crowd of 31,326 pack Hilton Park for a challenge cup tie with St Helens. Leigh pull off coup with the signing of world class sprinter McDonald Bailey, but he only plays one game of rugby, scoring a try in a specially arranged game with Wigan.
  • 1955 – Leigh took part in the ITA TV trophy under floodlights in London, only to lose in the final. Widnes are defeated 26-9 as Leigh lift the Lancashire Cup a second time.
  • 1959 – Ground renamed “Hilton Park” after former chairman James Hilton.
  • 1966 – International Star Alex Murphy joins Leigh as coach.
  • 1968 – Leigh make it to the BBC 2 Floodlit Trophy Final but lose to Castleford.

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  • 1969 – Floodlit Trophy is added to the trophy cabinet after a struggle with Wigan before 12,000 spectator
  • 1970 – St Helens defeated 7-4 in Lancashier Cup Final.
  • 1971 – Star-studied Leeds defeated 24-7 as Leigh lift the Challenge Cup.
  • 1972 – Floodlit Trophy once more lifted by Leigh, by virtue of a 5-0 victory over Wigan.
  • 1976 – Leigh set new record score with 75-3 drubbing of Doncaster.
  • 1978 – Second Division Championship success secured. John Woods plays and scores in every game.

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