Knowsley Road

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Knowsley Road
KR
Knowsley Road St Helens.jpg
Knowsley Road
Full nameKnowsley Road
Former namesGPW Recruitment Stadium (2008–2010)
Location St. Helens, Merseyside
Coordinates 53°27′6″N2°45′52″W / 53.45167°N 2.76444°W / 53.45167; -2.76444 Coordinates: 53°27′6″N2°45′52″W / 53.45167°N 2.76444°W / 53.45167; -2.76444
Owner St. Helens
Operator St. Helens
Capacity 17,500
Record attendance35,695 vs Wigan 26 December 1949
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke ground1890
Built1890
Opened1890
Renovated2006
Expanded1960
Closed2010
Demolished2011
Tenants
St. Helens (1890–2010)
St Helens Town FC (2002–2010)

Knowsley Road in Eccleston, St Helens, Merseyside, was the home ground of St. Helens from 1890 until its closure in 2010. St Helens Town FC played their home fixtures at Knowsley Road from 2002 until 2010. For a period, the venue also hosted Liverpool F.C. Reserves. The stadium was demolished during spring 2011 and a new construction then known as Cunningham Grange, named after club legend Keiron Cunningham, was built on the site. [1]

Contents

Stadium

Family Stand Knowsley Road.JPG
Family Stand

Knowsley Road consisted of four stands of open terracing and one seated stand called the Family Stand.

Family Stand

The Family Stand was the only section of the stadium which had a seated area, although there were still areas for standing supporters. The players entered the field from a gateway under the stand and the dugout was also in the Family Stand. The Family Stand contained an area for the media such as local radio stations. It was built after the Second World War, funded by local businesses. The actual design of the stand means that it only ran for two-thirds of that side of the pitch.

When the Main Stand was built, it provided a new changing room facility and gymnasium for the players, replacing the smaller, outdated ones at the old Pavilion End of the ground, next to the scoreboard. Players would come out of the new tunnel before kick off to a centralised view of the stadium, facing the Popular Stand.

When the Main Stand was constructed, it created an overhang at the top of the stand. This was because the old Eccleston railway ran below the site of the new stand, linking the Triplex (Pilkington) factory to the town centre. The railway has long gone now, and was replaced by the club's car park.

The Popular Stand was an all standing section of the ground and was the most popular stand for home supporters. The stand was built in the 1960s at a cost of over £30,000. It spread across the full length of the pitch. It held the Scaff – the gantry in which the press gathered. When St. Helens were on television, the Popular Stand regularly were heard singing and chanting due to the small distance between the cameras and the supporters.

Dunriding Lane End

The Dunriding Lane End was the only stand without a roof. It contained nine corporate boxes, as well as the stadium restaurant and the official store. Prior to being moved to the Family Stand, the changing rooms were at the Dunriding Lane End and players would enter from a tunnel.

The Dunriding Lane End of the ground was known as the Boys' Pen – a spot where die-hard fans congregated during the post-war years. During the 1970s, and 1980s, the club became aware of the need for corporate facilities in line with other clubs and the decision was made to build a bar, restaurant and executive boxes for the fans, and to give them a new and luxurious match day experience.

Eddington End

The Eddington End was a typical Kop. It was the second biggest stand overall at the ground, and the tallest, with the best views of the pitch. In the 1960s, a roof was placed on the Eddington End of the ground. The Eddington End is generally an away end, where most away fans congregated on match days. It became a haunt for local derby chanting with fans of arch rivals Wigan.

History

St. Helens moved to Knowsley Road in 1890, defeating Manchester Rangers in their first match. The stadium pre-dated the birth of the Northern Rugby Football Union (which would later become rugby league) by five years. Having been formed in 1873, St. Helens were a rugby union club when they moved into Knowsley Road. The stadium changed in appearance very little in its 120 years.

Lord Derby open the new pavilion on 26 December 1920 at a match against Wigan. A ground record of 35,695 fans turned up to watch Saints play Wigan on Boxing Day 1949. In January 1950, the training pitch was laid down. In February 1951, the newly completed Eccleston Kop covered enclosure was opened and was named after Supporters' Club Secretary George Eddington. In August 1958, the club's new grandstand was opened by Sir Harry Pilkington. The structure cost £32,000 and could seat 2,400.

In September 1961, new metal goal posts replaced the wooden originals after storm damage. The new popular side enclosure was erected in 1962. The old wooden structure that it replaced was given to Liverpool City for their ground at Knotty Ash. Saints' new floodlighting system opened by Sir Harry Pilkington on 27 January 1965. The bar and restaurant complex was opened at Dunriding Lane End of the Knowsley Road stadium in 1973.

Players' dug outs were moved from the Main Stand to the Popular Side in 1983. In September 1989, work started on nine executive boxes and an electronic scoreboard at the Dunriding Lane End.

In 2006, Knowsley Road was renovated slightly. On the club's new sponsorship deal with Earth Money, the stadium got new signs, new dug outs were installed, as were the toilet facilities which had been long complained about by supporters.

In 2006, Knowsley Road was approved as an international Test venue after safety and capacity improvements. It subsequently hosted an international test fixture in 2006 between Great Britain and New Zealand, which Great Britain won.

In June 2007, club chairman Eamonn McManus announced plans for a new 18,000 capacity stadium, with a Tesco store and plaza with 2,000 car parking spaces for the 2011 Super League Season. These plans were approved by local councillors in May 2008. [2] Plans were put on hold and building work did not start on time. Knowsley Road was closed at the end of the 2010 Super League Season and St Helens played their home games at Widnes' Stobart Stadium for the 2011 Super League Season.

The last first team match at Knowsley Road was the St. Helens vs Huddersfield game, a play-off semi-final on 24 September 2010. St. Helens won 42–22, the final try on the ground being scored by retiring club captain Keiron Cunningham.

Stadium records

gameDateTeamsAttendanceNotes
126 December 1949 Saintscolours.svg St Helens vs Wigancolours.svg Wigan 35,695Knowsley Road attendance record
226 August 1996 Saintscolours.svg St Helens vs Wolvescolours.svg Warrington 18,098 Super League attendance record
310 April 1957Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain vs Flag of France.svg  France 23,250Test match attendance record
410 October 1959 Saintscolours.svg St Helens vs Australian colours.svg Australia 29,156Tour match attendance record

Rugby League Test matches

List of rugby league test matches played at Knowsley Road. [3]

Test No.DateResultAttendanceNotes
114 February 1914 Flag of England.svg England def. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 16–1210,000
225 February 1939Flag of France.svg  France def. Flag of England.svg England 12–910,000 1938–39 European Rugby League Championship
310 April 1957Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain def. Flag of France.svg  France 29–1423,250
428 January 1961Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain def. Flag of France.svg  France 27–814,804
530 November 1969Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain def. Flag of France.svg  France 34–106,080
617 March 1971Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain def. Flag of France.svg  France 24–27,783
728 May 1978Flag of England.svg  England def. Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 60–139,759 1978 European Rugby League Championship
813 October 1995Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand def. Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea 22–68,679 1995 Rugby League World Cup Group B
91 November 2000Flag of England.svg  England def. Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 76–45,736 2000 Rugby League World Cup Group 1
1028 June 2006Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain def Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 46–1410,1032006 Baskerville Shield

Rugby League Tour Matches

Other than St Helens club games, Knowsley Road also saw St Helens, a combined St HelensSt Helens Recs XIII, the county team Lancashire and an English League XIII play host to international touring teams from Australia (sometimes playing as Australasia), New Zealand and France from 1907–2002.

GameDateResultAttendanceNotes
130 October 1907 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 24–5 1907–08 All Golds tour
222 February 1908 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 21–10
39 February 1909 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 9–01,500 1908–09 Kangaroo Tour
414 October 1911 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 16–512,000 1911–12 Kangaroo Tour
523 November 1921 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 16–86,000 1921–22 Kangaroo Tour
616 November 1929 Saintscolours.svg St Helens drew with Australian colours.svg Australasia 18–189,500 1929–30 Kangaroo Tour
72 December 1933 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 20–115,735 1933–34 Kangaroo Tour
82 December 1937 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Western Reds colours.svg St Helens / St Helens Recs XIII 15–72,000 1937–38 Kangaroo Tour
92 September 1939 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 19–34,000 1939 New Zealand Kiwis tour
1014 October 1948 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 10–820,175 1948–49 Kangaroo Tour
1127 September 1952 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 26–817,205 1952–53 Kangaroo Tour
1224 November 1956 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 44–215,579 1956–57 Kangaroo Tour
1323 September 1959 FlagOfLancashire.PNG Lancashire def. Australian colours.svg Australia 30–2215,743 1959–60 Kangaroo Tour
1410 October 1959 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 15–229,156
1522 November 1959 France colours.svg France def. England colours.svg Rugby League XIII 26–816,000Friendly
1612 October 1960 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 15–1212,250Australian pre-tournament game to the 1960 Rugby League World Cup
1728 September 1963 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 8–221,284 1963–64 Kangaroo Tour
1824 October 1967 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 8–417,275 1967–68 Kangaroo Tour
199 November 1970 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 37–1015,570Australian pre-tournament game to the 1970 Rugby League World Cup
2015 November 1972 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 24–910,000Australian pre-tournament game to the 1972 Rugby League World Cup
2113 November 1973 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. Australian colours.svg Australia 11–710,013 1973 Kangaroo Tour
2212 October 1975 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 32–710,170Australian pre-tournament game to the 1975 Rugby League World Cup
2312 November 1978 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 26–616,352 1978 Kangaroo Tour
2412 October 1980 Saintscolours.svg St Helens def. New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand 11–66,000 1980 New Zealand Kiwis tour
2517 October 1982 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 32–08,190 1982 Kangaroo Tour
262 November 1986 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 32–815,381 1986 Kangaroo Tour
277 October 1990 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 34–415,219 1990 Kangaroo Tour
281 November 1994 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 32–1413,911 1994 Kangaroo Tour
2925 October 2002 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Saintscolours.svg St Helens 38–26 2002 New Zealand Kiwis tour

See also

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The 1971–72 Lancashire Cup was the fifty-ninth occasion on which the completion had been held. Wigan won the trophy by beating Widnes by the score of 15-8 in the final. The match was played at Knowsley Road, Eccleston, St Helens,. The attendance was 6,970 and receipts were £2,204.00

1980–81 was the sixty-eighth occasion on which the Lancashire Cup completion had been held.

The 1985–86 Lancashire Cup competition was the seventy-third occasion on which the tournament had been held. Wigan won the trophy by beating Warrington in the final by the score of 34-8.

1986–87 was the seventy-fourth occasion on which the Lancashire Cup completion had been held.
Wigan won the trophy by beating Oldham by the score of 27-6
The match was played at Knowsley Road, Eccleston, St Helens, Merseyside,. The attendance was 20,180 and receipts were £60,329.00
This was Wigan’s third appearance in three years and a second victory in what would a run of four victories and five appearances in five successive years.
The attendance was again at a very pleasing level, the third of the five year period when it would reach around the 20,000 level, and the receipts reached a new near record level

The 1987–88 Lancashire Cup was the seventy-fifth occasion on which the Lancashire Cup competition had been held. It was contested during the 1987–88 Rugby Football League season by clubs in Lancashire. Wigan won the trophy by beating Warrington in the final.

1988–89 was the seventy-sixth occasion on which the Lancashire Cup completion had been held.
Wigan won the trophy by beating Salford by the score of 22-17
The match was played at Knowsley Road, Eccleston, St Helens, Merseyside,. The attendance was 19,154 and receipts were £71,879.00

The 1989–90 Lancashire Cup was the 77th occasion on which the completion had been held. Warrington won the trophy by beating Oldham by the score of 24-16 in the final. The match was played at Knowsley Road, Eccleston, St Helens, Merseyside,. The attendance was 9.990 and receipts were £41,804.

The 1992 Lancashire Cup was the 80th and last occasion on which the Lancashire Cup completion was held. Wigan won the trophy by beating St. Helens by the score of 5-4 in the final.

St Helens R.F.C.–Wigan Warriors rivalry

The Rugby league matches between St. Helens and Wigan are local derbies with the two clubs being fierce rivals, both on and off the pitch. The sporting term of "Derby" or "Derbies" originates from this sporting fixture.

References

  1. Taylor Wimpey – Cunnigham Grange, St Helens, URL accessed 17 May 2013 Archived 19 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Saints stadium plans win backing". BBC News. 21 May 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  3. Knowsley Road @ Rugby League Project