LiveAS IT HAPPENED: Last match at Wilderspool

First published in Sport
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  • All the build-up and highlights of the match too, brought to you by Warrington Guardian editor Gareth Dunning and sports editor Mike Parsons


Funny here. Nobody wants to leave. The players are warming down, the stand is still largely full. People want to enjoy the final moments


That's it, the game is over and Wilderspool Stadium's time as a rugby league arena is over too. Some of the stars of the future have done the old dear proud tonight and will send home 800 fans both happy and a little teary eyed.

So it's Warrington Wolves u16 46 Cumbria Regional Academy u16s 16, and it is good night and God bless to Wilderspool.


And there it is. The final whistle sounds on rugby league at Wilderspool. Standing ovation


Will Johnston's try be the last one at Wilderspool?


Ryan Johnston adds his second try and Liam Aspin adds the extras to move Wolves 46-16 ahead with three minutes to play


So history is ticking on here. Last minute or two of more than 100 years of rugby league at Wilderspool. One more try makes 50


The first game under floodlights was in 1965. When Warrington beat Wigan in friendly.

I mention this only as it is not on tonight and is getting murky


and Jordan Williams goes over again after Cumbria's lost possession. Jake Carter bangs over the extras for 40-16 after 64 minutes.


Looks like Warrington will say goodbye to Wilderspool on a winning note thanks to Jordan Williams steaming forward to catch Jake Carter's high kick and racing home. Carter converts.


John Garner, from Paddington, explains more about the 'Bevan' effect.

"I felt it when there was a scrum. The ball would go in and there would be a rush. As it went from scrum half, to stand off, to both centres, the anticipation would be rising. Then it went to Bevan. You never knew what he was going to follow but you knew he would score."


impact hooker Ryan Johnston bustles his way over from dummy half and Jake Carter converts to restore the 12-point cushion after 60 minutes


Kieran Walker is put over by Callum Kinrade as Cumbria cut the gap to 22-16 with 20 minutes remaining.


You can't really talk Wilderspool without talking Brian Bevan. Here's the stats. He scored seven tries against Leigh here in 1948. In front of 20,000 fans. He repeated it against Bramley in 1953. His 66th of that season.

His final game was in 1962 and his 700th try was notched up here in 1959 against Blackpool


A trademark Lee Briers cross-field kick and Joel Monaghan leap was replicated by Jake Carter and Sam Kershaw for an important opening try to the second half from Warrington. Jake also added another touch line conversion to move his side 22-12 in front.


And sports editor Mike Parsons shared his memories of Wilderspool.

Read his recollections here


Check out our pics from Mike Boden.

Click here


Not a bad half from the two teams, some really entertaining stuff. One lovely raid by Warrington must have included half a dozen offloads out of the tackle and a Solomona-esque round-the-man reverse pass from Joe Buckley that eventually led to prop Jordan Williams being held up short. A couple of penalties were conceded and Cumbria made the most of it in the final 10 minutes of the half. Hopefully Gary Chambers can get his lads back on track for the start of the second half.


Half time here. Good to know the loud speaker system is as good as it was in days gone by...


Jean Wolfarth (appropriate name) is here tonight with husband John and son David.

A fan in the 1970s, she brought flowers with her in memory of former player Mike Kelly.

"For me, the best memories were if watching John Bevan and Parry Gordon, they were my favourite players to watch."


Cumbria are back in this game after tries by Connor Fitzsimmons and Jacques O'Neill, both converted by Mews for a half time score of 16-12.


When was the Brian Bevan stand opened I hear you ask? Well in 1983 actually. 

The previous one was destroyed in a fire in 1982



The sun is starting to set and the game has settled down after that initial scoring burst. 30 minutes gone. 16-0


Some great try line defence keeps Cumbria at bay from their first threatening attacks


Mal Jones, of Willis Street, recalls that match as his favourite. 

"The absolute number one was that win in 1978. It was the highlight."

And Ken Wooding, from Bewsey, agreed.

"That game stands out. games like that meant everything to us."



The scoreboard is still very much operational even if the clock has lost its way with time


The first Australian tour side to visit was in 1908. Warrington won 10-3. The Wire boast a remarkable record of eight wins over the Aussies. The last in 1978. Which leads us neatly to our next memory...


Jack Roper weaves a determined route to the line to extend the lead. Jake Carter's goal makes it 16-0 after 12 minutes.


Opposite winger Sam Kershaw is next to go over, thanks to a lovely offload near the line from hooker George Moore. Jake Carter adds the touch line conversion for 10-0.


Rugby league writer Dave Hadfield is here tonight. Also author of many rugby league books, he talked of his favourite moments.

"I think that one special moment would be Paul Cullen being sent down the tunnel and still fighting with Andy Goodway.

"The atmosphere then was like a zoo. It was known as that. But it was a terrific atmosphere."



Joe Buckley crosses for the first try, 4-0, to Wolves


It is a little eerie looking out across two empty ends of this old ground. I'm sure the spirit of Wire is all around the place though, including those looking down from heaven as absent friends tonight


Well the stand is packed tonight. Lots of cameras out as fans get their last glimpse of the famous old ground


One of tonight's mascots is nine-year-old James Williamson, a pupil at Fairfield St Elphins Primary School and son of former Wire winger or centre Paul Williamson


We'll be bringing some stats as well through the evening.

Here's the first

The first game here at Wilderspool was 1898 when Warrington drew 3-3 with Swinton 




Wolves u16s: Regan Croft; Joe Buckley, Ryan Taylor, Jack Roper, Sam Kershaw; Bruce Martinus, Jake Carter; Jordan Wilkins, George Moore, Declan Rodgers, Ethan Duffy, Alex Tankard, Ellis Robson. Rahan Patel, Oliver De Petrrillo, Rony Frank, Liam Aspin


A nice touch tonight to see Jack Roper playing in the centre for Wolves. He is the son of Jon Roper, A former Great Britain international who starred in the primrose and blue in the 90s


Of course only the Brian Bevan Stand is open tonight. The terraces are closed. Feeling somewhat out of place next to Mike here in the press box! But my 'usual' spot on the 10 metre line near the Fletcher End resembles something of an overgrown garden...


The Wolves youngsters are going through their warm ups. Kick off is 7

And we will be sharing lots of memories through the night. You can add your favourites by commenting at the bottom of the article. Or by tweeting with #wilderspool


Wilderspool favourite Gary Chambers is coach tonight. While legends Mark Forster and Mike Nicholas are currently pitch side.

They are delivering the pre game team talk to these Wolves youngsters. Plenty of appearances clocked up between those two!

Warrington Guardian:


With a tear in the eye, the end is nigh for Wilderspool Stadium.

The ground, home to Warrington Wolves from 1898 to 2003, will shut its doors to rugby league action for the final time tonight.

Wolves and Cumbria Regional Academy under 16s teams will be treading turf once graced by Wire legends like Brian Bevan, Gerry Helme, Les Boyd, Lee Briers and Allan Langer and will surely give their all in such heralded company.

The lads are just warming up on a swish-looking playing surface that would put some current Super League grounds to shame. The rest of the stadium is very tired and the whole place will be knocked down later this summer



So the crowd is filling up for this historic night. Lots of memories shared with fans. Parry Gordon, Paul Cullen and one Brian Bevan mentioned a lot,


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