Warrington Guardian:

One of a pair of tries from Alan Hunte in a Warrington Wolves home win against Leeds Rhinos during the year 2000


AN upturn in fortunes returned to the rocky road as the year 2000 progressed.

The plan was simple enough; coach Darryl Van de Velde had the clout to recruit world-class talent if chief executive Peter Deakin could put bums on seats to pay for it.

And that would set up the club perfectly in its bid to win planning approval for a club-saving new stadium on the former Tetley Walker brewery site on Winwick Road.

Despite three of the highest-profile signings made by The Wire – Allan Langer, Andrew Gee and Tawera Nikau – and an initial surge in season-ticket sales – the club underachieved in both areas.

Warrington Guardian:

New arrivals, from left, Allan Langer, Steve Blakeley, Andrew Gee, Tawera Nikau and Neil Parsley


Behind the scenes and unknown to nearly all outside the club’s walls, Van de Velde and Deakin were not seeing eye to eye, finances were an issue again, and concern was growing that these difficulties could play into the hands of those lobbying against the stadium campaign launched and backed by Warrington Guardian.

When unity was needed, the club could have done without a sit-in protest from fans after the team’s humiliating 44-24 home defeat to rock-bottom Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants but those frustrations were understandable when the season was in freefall.

At least it had been kept in-house that Deakin, the pied piper of the stadium project, had resigned weeks before and was working his notice until the development’s approval was gained.

A few weeks later, councillors inside the Town Hall, where the front lawn was rammed with Warrington fans calling for a ‘yes’ vote, did give a thumbs up but referred the £8million stadium and Tesco superstore development to Government decision makers – a sticking point that would add to the financial stresses.

Although Deakin left to take up a new role with Sale Sharks, the sit-in protest appeared to have done some good as The Wire ended the campaign with six wins from eight.

Among it all, there were some high points on the field.

Warrington Guardian:

Tawera Nikau salutes the crowd after a home win


A Challenge Cup semi-final appearance was the first for 10 years and a first defeat of the season was inflicted on mighty Bradford after a second-half comeback, inspired by Australian Test legend Langer.

There were just not enough performances like it.

Warrington Guardian:

Allan Langer sticks the boot in

Warrington Guardian:

Gary Chambers and Andrew Gee look for familiar faces in the crowd after success against Leeds


Legendary Australian Test scrum-half Langer came out of a brief retirement to wear the primrose and blue along with his long-time Brisbane Broncos colleague Gee, one of the world's toughest prop forwards, while New Zealand international Nikau chose to leave behind Aussie Grand Final winners Melbourne Storm in favour of Wolves.

With England half-back Steve Blakeley moving to Wilderspool from Salford and French international second rower Jerome Guisset joining from Canberra Raiders, all the pundits were predicting a top-five finish for Warrington.

Warrington Guardian:

Steve Blakeley tears up the Leeds defence


Unfortunately, the team failed to live up to the hype, despite getting their season off to a magnificent start with thumping Challenge Cup wins over NFP sides Hunslet Hawks and York Wasps.

The opening round of Super League saw London Broncos thrashed 48-18 at Wilderspool, with Alan Hunte grabbing two tries, and a week later Hunte was again the hero, his last-minute touchdown giving the Wolves a thrilling win away to Salford City Reds in a televised Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Warrington Guardian:

Allan Langer's first try for the club, at home to London Broncos

Warrington Guardian:

There was now a real belief that the Wolves were in for a season to remember, but two successive defeats by the Bradford Bulls - 58-4 at Odsal in Super League and 44-20 in the Challenge Cup semi-final at Headingley - proved that the Wolves squad was still not ready to consistently challenge the sport's big four of St Helens, Wigan Warriors, Bradford and Leeds Rhinos.

With confidence naturally low after the Bradford games, Wolves slumped to two more defeats, at home to Hull FC and, agonisingly, away to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, where a last-minute error by Dean Busby gifted the home team their winning try.

Warrington Guardian:

Celebration time for Alan Hunte after a score against Leeds

Warrington Guardian:

Ian Knott is manhandled by the Leeds defenders Chev Walker, Andy Hay and Keith Senior

Warrington Guardian:

Danny Nutley is held as Leeds' Adrian Morley leaves a trailing attacker

Warrington Guardian:

Tawera Nikau looks to be away

Warrington Guardian:

Francis Cummins clutches Allan Langer and Kevin Sinfield makes a grab


Successive wins at home to Leeds - with promising young centre Ian Sibbit scoring two tries - and away to Halifax Blue Sox seemed to put Wolves' season back on track, only for derby defeats at home to St Helens and away to Wigan to once again expose the side's weaknesses.

A narrow win away to Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants and successive defeats away to Salford and at home to Castleford Tigers created further gloom for Wolves.

But if there was one thing you could rely on in Super League V it was Warrington's unpredictability, and on May 28 Wilderspool witnessed a remarkable game as Wolves overturned an 18-point half-time deficit to beat the mighty Bulls 42-32 - the Challenge Cup winners' first defeat of the season.

An away win over London, in a roadshow game at Newport RUFC, gave Wolves another lift, but their season then nosedived in spectacular fashion.

Wolves lost six of their next seven matches, culminating in a humiliating 44-24 defeat by rock bottom Huddersfield-Sheffield at Wilderspool in a rollercoaster game which had seen on-loan winger Rob Smyth race in for four tries in the first half-hour of his Warrington debut.

Wolves addressed their problems and went on to win six of their final eight games to finish sixth - their highest placing in four seasons.

The end-of-season play-offs resulted in a Lancashire derby at Old Trafford, with St Helens and Wigan contesting the Grand Final.

Saints hung on for an exciting 29-16 win despite a brave second-half rally from the Pie Eaters.

Warrington Guardian:

Allan Langer pins down the leg of St Helens half back Sean Long


For Warrington, though, it had proved to be another disappointing season in which there had been some notable departures.

Blakeley quit Wilderspool in favour of his former club Salford after only a few months, and Jon Roper went on loan to London and Salford before being released at the end of the season.

Warrington Guardian:

Steve Blakeley lines up a kick


Also released in an end-of-season clear-out were:

Veteran former Great Britain winger Mark Forster, who was deemed surplus to requirements in the year of his double testimonial. The former Woolston Rovers junior departed having scored 191 tries in an incredible 458 appearances.

Warrington Guardian:

Mark Forster on his way to a try at Wakefield

Warrington Guardian: Image from PictureGalleryModule_ID:3171730

Mark Forster represented Ireland in the World Cup at the back end of the year 2000 and was joined in the squad by Brisbane Broncos loose forward Kevin Campion, who was initially signed by Wolves for 2001


Aussie hooker Danny Farrar, who chose to retire from the game after three hard-grafting years at Wilderspool.

Warrington Guardian:

Danny Farrar says goodbye to the fans at the end of the season

Warrington Guardian:

England prop Mark Hilton, whose once-promising career sadly continued to be disrupted by serious injuries.

Jerome Guisset, who enjoyed his year in England but chose to return to his native France.

Off the field, long-serving assistant coach Paul Cullen left to take over the reins at Whiteheaven, while in November Andy Gatcliffe - a business partner of club shareholder Biill Holroyd - was appointed chief executive. 


Challenge Cup:

Feb 13: Hunslet Hawks 4 Wolves 46

Feb 27: Wolves 84 York Wasps 1

Mar 12: Salford City Reds 20 Wolves 22

Mar 25: Bradford Bulls 44 Wolves 20

Super League:

Mar 5: Wolves 48 London Broncos 18

Mar 19: Bradford Bulls 58 Wolves 4

Apr 2: Wolves 16 Hull FC 32

Apr 9: Wakefield Trinity 28 Wolves 24

Apr 16: Wolves 44 Leeds Rhinos 10

Warrington Guardian:

Another try celebration against Leeds from Alan Hunte, with Lee Penny keen to join in


Apr 21: Halifax Blue Sox 20 Wolves 30

Apr 24: Wolves 34 St Helens 47

May 1: Wolves 16 Wigan 42

May 7: Hudds-Sheff Giants 38 Wolves 28

May 14: Salford City Reds 31 Wolves 12

May 21: Wolves 26 Castleford Tigers 37

May 28: Wolves 42 Bradford Bulls 32

Jun 4: London Broncos 18 Wolves 28*

Jun 9: Hull FC 26 Wolves 12

Jun 18: Wolves 16 Wakefield Trinity 32

Jun 23: Leeds Rhinos 28 Wolves 24

Jun 30: St Helens 50 Wolves 20

Jul 7: Wolves 34 Halifax Blue Sox 12

Jul 16: Wigan Warriors 26 Wolves 4

Jul 23: Wolves 24 Hudds-Sheff Giants 44

Jul 28: Castleford Tigers 18 Wolves 32

Aug 6: Wolves 32 Salford City Reds 18

Aug 13: Wolves 41 Hull FC 10

Aug 20: St Helens 58 Wolves 18

Aug 25: London Broncos 16 Wolves 32

Sep 3: Wolves 20 Wigan Warriors 50

Sep 10: Wakefield Trinity 26 Wolves 18

Warrington Guardian:

Tawera Nikau on the attack in the final game of the season

Warrington Guardian:

Danny Nutley on his way to a try in the final game of the season against Salford

Warrington Guardian:

Toa Kohe-Love breaks free in the final game of the season against Salford


Sep 17: Wolves 38 Salford City Reds 10

*Played at Newport RUFC




                P             W            D             L              F              A             Pt

Wigan Warriors 28           24           1             3             960        405        49

St Helens              28           23           0             5             988        627        46

Bradford Bulls    28           20           3             5             1004     408        43

Leeds Rhinos      28           10           0             11           692        626        34

Castleford Tigers               28           17           0             11           585        571        34

Warrington Wolves         28           13           0             15           735        817        26

Hull FC  28           12           1             15           630        681        25

Halifax Blue Sox 28           11           1             15           630        703        23

Salford City Reds              28           10           0             18           542        910        20

Wakefield Trinity              28           8             0             20           557        771        16

London Broncos               28           6             0             22           456        770        12

Hudds-Sheff Giants         28           4             0             24           502        1026     8



App        T              G             Dg           Pt

David Alstead     0+3        0             0             0             0

Steve Blakeley    4+6        1             9             0             22

Lee Briers             23+9     17           93           1             255

Warrington Guardian:

Lee Briers, only Alan Hunte scored more tries that year


Dean Busby        6+14     2             0             0             8

Chris Campbell  7+1        2             0             0             8

Gary Chambers 0+13     2             0             0             8

Will Cowell          5+2        1             0             0             4

Danny Farrar      31           7             0             0             28

Warrington Guardian:

Danny Farrar making hard metres for Wolves


Mark Forster      14           5             0             0             20

Andrew Gee        31           4             0             0             16

Mark Gleeson    0+1        0             0             0             0

Jerome Guisset  12+19   7             0             0             28

David Highton    0+9        0             0             0             0

Mark Hilton        6+16     0             0             0             0

Alan Hunte          31           19           0             0             76

Ian Knott             24+7     9             0             0             36

Warrington Guardian:

Ian Knott charges in

Toa Kohe-Love  26           16           0             0             64

Allan Langer        32           12           4             0             56

Steve McCurrie  30+1     17           0             0             68

Warrington Guardian:

Steve McCurrie on a charging run against St Helens


Tawera Nikau     31           3             0             0             12

Paul Noone         8+5        2             0             0             8

Danny Nutley     27           1             0             0             4

Warrington Guardian:

Try time for Danny Nutley in the final game of the season against Salford


Neil Parsley         1             1             0             0             4

Lee Penny            30           16           0             0             64

Mike Peters        2+12     1             0             0             4

Jon Roper            18+1     6             17           0             58

Ian Sibbit             10+4     6             0             0             24

Warrington Guardian:

Ian Sibbit,a promising young talent


Rob Smyth          4             5             0             0             20

Jamie Stenhouse              3             3             0             0             12

Warren Stevens 0             0             0             0             0

Paul Wood          0+2        0             0             0             0

Warrington Guardian:

A young Paul Wood making his debut against Hull FC

Warrington Guardian: Paul Wood in action on his Wolves debut.