Our History – 1910 The Youth Scene
The first St. Patrick’s Youth Rugby team was formed in 1910, at a meeting at St. Patrick’s Gymnasium, off Darlington Street, in the first week of July. The team was to be called “St. Patrick’s Athletic Rugby Club”.Negotiations for a suitable ground began at once and financial assistance was promised. It has not emerged when the “Athletic” was dropped from the name nor do the early exploits seem to have been particularly spectacular but in 1943, the team had one of it’s most successful pre Youth Club seasons, winning the Laing Cup, the Counsell Cup and the Woolmer Cup (second year running that this trophy had come to St. Patrick’s). A number of successful Rugby youth teams emerged from St. Patrick’s Youth Club over the years, but probably the most celebrated, was perhaps the team of the middle the ninteen fifties. who were unbeaten in three years.
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In the year of the General Strike, St. Patrick’s won the most prestigous trophy in schoolboy rugby league, the Daily Dispatch Shield, organised by the “Daily Dispatch”, a national newspaper. They beat St. Bede’s Widnes, in the final, at Central Park, in front of a record crowd of 16,000 people. The whole sequence of events from 1922-1926 established a lasting reputation for St. Patrick’s as a production centre for good players, which still applies to this day. The team.
The St Patricks club was revived during the second world war in 1941 by Tom Moran, a former player and a leading referee in the pro game who was for many years Wigan RLFC chief scout. They competed as a team of teenagers in the under 21 league and were so good they often had to play against professional clubs’ A teams just to get a game. Ted Toohey was the best known of this fine team, going on to play for Barrow and Gt.Britain. In 1946 a dispute led to a breakaway movement and the formation of local rivals Shamrock Rovers. This forced a temporary shut down for St Pats but they soon restarted as a youth team under the guidance of John McDermott in 1948. A new generation of young talent began to emerge in the late forties and early fifties, among them Jacky Edwards( father of Shaun) who went on to play for Warrington and Lancashire. The success of the St Pats youth team continued in to the early sixties with many players signing professional, among them Jim McCormack(father of ex-Widnes coach Steve), Jimmy Boylan and Mick Mooney.
Under the coaching of former St.Helens fullback Jimmy Lowe, St Pats made the decision to switch to open age. At the time amateur rugby was struggling in Wigan so St Pats became the first outsiders to join the strong Warrington league. Amongst the players to sign professional were Jacky Melling and Ken Halliwell, who was capped by Lancashire.
The birth of BARLA in 1973 gave new impetus to the amateur game and encouraged clubs to develop their own clubhouses and facilities which St Pats did very successfully at Clarington Park.
Barla’s formation also prompted the District Leagues to get together and pool their resources. The North West Counties League was formed by a merger of Leigh, Manchester, St Helens, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan districts.
St Pats legend cliff Fleming had become manager in 1967 along with secretary Walt Fairhurst.
in 1977 the old Whelley club came under the St Pats umbrella and with it a highly succesful youth set up. From that moment on there was no looking back for St Pats Junior section which played at under 19s.
The list of players produced for the professional game is endless. Probably the best known from that first crop were the ex-second team coaches Trevor Stockley and Paul O’Neill (father of current players Sean and Pat), Ged Byrne, Mick McTigue and the one and only Andy Gregory.
Honours came thick and fast for the Pats youth teams with National cups, County cups and League titles. The production line of stars continued including Gt.Britain captains Andy Platt, Chris Joynt, Phil Clarke, Shaun Edwards and Mike Gregory as well as the likes of Martin Dermott, Joe Lydon, David Lyon, Kris Radlinski, John Fieldhouse, Shaun Wane, Ian Lucas, Dave Wood, Martin Crompton, Mick Cassidy, David Jones. The list is endless. No doubt some real star names have been missed.
1983/84 St Pats win the Lancashire Cup defeating Rochdale Mayfield 9 – 7
1986 St Pats become founder members of the BARLA National League for the 86/87 season. Other founder members were Bradford Dudley Hill, Egremont Rangers, Heworth, Leigh Miners Welfare (now Leigh Miners Rangers), Milford Marlins, Millom, Pilkington Recs, West Hull and Woolston Rovers.
Along with Leigh Miners, St Pats are the only team never to have been outside of the top division since the formation of the league.
1987/88 St Pats win the BARLA National Cup defeating Elland 28 – 8
1988/89 St Pats defeated in Final of National Conference League Challenge Cup by Egremont 2 – 0
A significant year in the club’s history. Teams were formed at under 8, 9, 10, and 11 when the Standish Eagles teams from those age groups decided to move to St Pats because there was no set-up at Standish as the lads progressed and St Pats provided continuity. Current St Pats stalwarts John and Angela Crabtree were instrumental in the move and coached and managed the first under 9s team which included their son Andrew and Sean O’Loughlin, amongst others.
1991/92 St Pats become National League First Division Champions and in the same season win the National Conference League Challenge Cup defeating Saddleworth 14 – 12
Since then the club has gone from strength to strength with junior teams from age 4-18, a ladies team and 2 open age mens teams, the Committee and it’s volunteers are committed to growing the numbers of players participating in rugy league and fastidious in their intent to keep the club moving forwards.