WOLVES were a smash hit in 2011 as records tumbled.
Average home Super League attendances rose to the new high of 11,158 as Tony Smith’s team delivered silverware for the third successive year.
Warrington, with Joel Monaghan and Brett Hodgson as new arrivals, confirmed their growing consistency by winning the League Leaders’ Shield, finishing top of the table for the first time since 1972-73.
And they did so in style.
Wolves broke the club record for number of wins (22) and points scored (1,072) in a Super League season, as well as achieving a new high for points scored in all games in one campaign (1,359) and a new low for points conceded (401) in a summer league term.
There were some sensational performances at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Among them was a club record league victory on March 20 – an 82-6 hammering of Harlequins in which Hodgson landed a Wolves Super League match record of 13 conversions.
And a club record Challenge Cup success followed, a 112-0 battering of Swinton Lions on May 20 – the night that Lee Briers became Wolves’ highest points scorer of all time.
Perhaps even more pleasing was the first victory in Wolves’ new den against St Helens, with the 35-28 triumph on June 24 being among a club record Super League winning streak of 10 matches.
It was no wonder attendances reached a 55-year high and that all league home games passed the 10,000 mark for the first time since 1948-49.
Hopes were high for the play-offs and a 47-0 crushing of Huddersfield Giants – Wolves’ fifth ‘nilling’ of the year – put Smith’s men one step from Old Trafford for the first time.
But fifth-place finishers Leeds Rhinos had not read the script, with Kevin Sinfield’s late penalty goal ending the Grand Final hopes again of a Warrington team that looked like it had burnt itself out.
In the season’s other heartbreaker, holders Wolves also went out of the Challenge Cup to the eventual winners.
The 44-24 loss to Wigan was the team’s first Challenge Cup defeat at the new stadium and also the most points conceded in a home game in the competition in the club’s entire history.
It was a remarkable tie, with Wolves falling 22-0 behind to the reigning league champions inside 24 minutes but pulled it back to 22-20 within two minutes of the second half.
The match of the season remained tight until a Josh Charnley 90-metre effort in the 65th minute put Wigan out of sight.
Marquee games come to town
THE Halliwell Jones Stadium was hired by the Rugby Football League on three occasions for prestige matches in 2011.
Wigan beat St Helens 18-12 in the Challenge Cup semi final in front of 12,713 supporters.
National League Grand Finals Day was staged at the ground for the fourth year in a row, with Featherstone Rovers defeating Sheffield Eagles 40-4, Workington Town losing to Keighley Cougars 32-12 and Huddersfield Underbank Rangers overcoming Kippax Knights 40-18 in the three showdowns on October 2.
History was made when an Australia versus New Zealand international took place on Warrington soil for the first time, with a 12,491-strong crowd turning out to see the Kangaroos clinching the opening match of the Four Nations series on October 28.
A Giant gesture
A RARE moment showcasing the sport’s ‘community spirit’ surfaced in the West Stand after Wolves hammered Huddersfield Giants 47-0 in their opening play-offs game.
Huddersfield supporters waved a banner that said ‘Well done Wire’ with reference to the team finishing top of the table.
Fans won over by new winger
A CONTROVERSIAL signing from Australia, Joel Monaghan soon won over the Warrington fans with his lethal finishing and aerial ability.
The winger finished his debut campaign as the club’s top try scorer with 30, 21 of them coming at The Halliwell Jones Stadium as he broke Chris Riley’s season record of 19.
He was third in the Super League try-scoring stakes, ending two behind Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall and Wigan Warriors’ Sam Tomkins, a sign of the prolific scoring to come in subsequent years.
Filling in corners at eastern end
IN March Wolves announced £2m quadrant extensions at the east end of the ground, taking the capacity from 13,024 to 15,000 for the start of the 2012 campaign.
Home tries in 2011
Joel Monaghan 21
Ryan Atkins 15
Matt King 13
Lee Briers 11
Richie Myler 11
Chris Riley 10
Brett Hodgson 10
Chris Bridge 8
Ben Westwood 7
Michael Monaghan 6