Saints’ first match – 150 years on

Wednesday, 24th January marks the 150th anniversary of St.Helens R.F.C.'s first-ever match...

The historic fixture came following the founding of a football club for St.Helens on Wednesday, 19th November 1873.

You can read more on the formation and early years of the Club by clicking here.

It wasn’t until the new year that arranged fixtures were put into place and this first-ever match for our Club came on Saturday, 24th January 1874 at the recreation cricket ground on Boundary Road, our first temporary home as we began something of a nomadic life.

Our first Saints, the Original Saints, was a team made up of young entrepreneurs, sons of industrialists and prominent ‘movers and shakers’ in the town.

The match itself ended in a draw and the words of the first-ever match report read as follows in the local paper:

St. Helens v. Liverpool Royal Infirmary

The announcement of this match, the first that has ever been played in St. Helens, excepting amongst members of the twon club, attracted to the ground a large number of spectators, who evinced a hearty appreciation of the peculiarly characteristic features of the game, their enthusiasm being but very slightly damped by a smart shower of hail.

The ball was kicked off at 3:30 by the home team;the strangers, who were several men short, winning the toss, selected the upper goal, and so secured the advantage of playing with the wind. Thus aided, the capital play of their forwards enabled them to keep the ball in rather close proximity to their opponents’ goal and but for the strength of the back players must infallibly have gained some more decided advantage than the four touch-downs they scored by half-time.

On ends being changed the aspect of affairs was for a time entirely altered, the ball being carried down into the heart of the “Royals” territory. This however did not last long, the superior training and backing up of the Liverpool team gaining ground for them in all the scrummages, the excellence of their forward play going far to neutralize the disparity of numbers, as they were able to dispence with all their back players but one, whilst St.Helens had no less than seven.

On “no side” being called the Liverpool men had added another touch-down to their score, a very pleasant game thus terminating in a draw in their favour.

Where all played so well it is difficult to particularise individual merit, but we would wish to call attention to the to rule much neglected by both clubs that “In the event of any player holding or running with the ball being tackled, and the ball fairly held, he must at once cry down, and then out it down,” instead of wasting time in mauling, which on Saturday was far too prevalent.

The Club would like to say thank you to the Saints Heritage Society and its contributors. If you would like to find out even more about any historical St.Helens player then you can visit the website:

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