THERE had never been a season like it and there will probably never be a repeat.

Major moments, including personal tragedies, shaped the most dramatic and turbulent year in Wolves' history.

When all is considered, the seventh place finish was a creditable achievement.

Team planning was hit at the start of pre-season training, Brisbane Broncos and Ireland's 2000 World Cup pack man Kevin Campion turning his back on a Wolves contract.

That opened the door for head coach Darryl Van de Velde to entice Brisbane's Grand Final winning skipper Kevin Walters to renew his glorious 1990s Broncos half-back partnership at Wilderspool with Allan Langer.

Tongan prop Martin Masella, New Zealander centre David Kidwell and Australian hooker, half back or back rower Steve Georgallis were also among the pre-season recuits.

Warrington Guardian:

Martin Masella, a new arrival

Warrington Guardian:

David Kidwell

Warrington Guardian:

Utility man Steve Georgallis


But good news was in short supply.

Warrington Guardian relaunched the 'Save Our Club' campaign in January, on the back of plans for a new stadium being 'called-in' by the Government. The need for a public inquiry would cause a delay that would put the club at serious financial risk.

Warrington Guardian:

Andrew Gee, tearing into Castleford Tigers


Then prop Andrew Gee was put through a knife-attack ordeal and was chased by thugs outside of Wolves' Club La Santa training camp in Lanzarote. Steve McCurrie also needed stitches in a bad head cut in a 'training accident' on the Canary island.

Warrington Guardian:

Steve McCurrie against Bradford Bulls at Valley Parade, home of Bradford City FC


Player preparation was hit again when Alan Hunte returned from loan spell with rugby union club Pontypridd in February needing knee operation.

Warrington Guardian:

Alan Hunte trying to find a way through


At that time, too, Norman Summers stepped down as chairman of Wolves' owners, Warrington Sports Holdings Ltd, stating it was in the best interests of the club at that time to enable Warrington Borough Council to take more control in managing the way forward.

Then the season got off to a controversial opening as Wolves lost a fiery contest at Wigan.

Rugby Football League director of rugby Greg McCallum talked of 'thuggery' on the pitch and described the match as 'a throwback to the 1970s'. Toa Kohe-Love and Tawera Nikau were sent off. Danny Nutley was cited for punching and, along with Kohe-Love, was suspended for two matches. RFL discussed good behaviour bonds being imposed on Wolves and Wigan.

Warrington Guardian:

Toa Kohe-Love


Walters then walked out on Warrington, four games into the season, and returned to Australia for 'family reasons', and it was leaked that a Wolves player was being investigated for failing a drugs test.

Warrington Guardian:

Coach Darryl Van de Velde


Van de Velde rushed home to Australia after the Round Two defeat to Hull – to visit his poorly mother in hospital, returning four days before the Challenge Cup semi final against holders Bradford Bulls.

Tawera Nikau had a perfectly good try ruled out when the scores were 12-12 and Wolves were clearly on top at the start of the semi-final's second half. Wolves went on to lose despite Lee Briers' hat-trick heroics in a man-of-the-match display.

Warrington Guardian:

Lee Briers with his man-of-the-match award, a rarity for the award to go to a player on the losing side. Briers and Wolves were despondent with the defeat after being on top for a long period in the second half

Warrington Guardian:

War wounds for Dean Busby after the Challenge Cup semi-final defeat

Warrington Guardian:

Rob Smyth's try had given Wolves great hope in the semi final at Huddersfield


Three days later Briers' brother Brian died of cancer. And the next day Wolves were hit by a second tragedy when Nikau's wife died at home.

Nikau returned home to New Zealand with his two children, and Wolves re-signed another former Kiwi international in Gary Mercer.

Warrington Guardian:

Gary Mercer, left, back in primrose and blue after his first stint in the late 80s and early 90s. He had been player-coach at Halifax before rejoining Wolves. Here he is plotting with skipper Allan Langer


After four defeats, and with the world seemingly against them, Wolves pulled together to gain their first Super League win of the season at home to Leeds Rhinos.

Georgallis then ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the first away win at Halifax, and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the season.

Warrington Guardian: Gary Mercer

Gary Mercer celebrates the first away win of the season, coming against his former club Halifax

Warrington Guardian:

Steve Georgallis, whose short season with Wolves ended at Halifax


A stunning and rare home win against St Helens helped to bring some smiles back to Wilderspool, only for a hefty loss to Bradford to knock everyone back down to earth again.

Warrington Guardian:

A try from Alan Hunte against his former club St Helens

Warrington Guardian:

A stadium petition completed with 42,000 names was sent to the public inquiry inspector as evidence in support of a new home for Wolves.

Nikau returned from New Zealand, but hooker David Highton suffered a compound fracture of his cheekbone and was sidelined for at least eight weeks.

Warrington Guardian:

Tawera Nikau returned from New Zealand to serve out his contract

Warrington Guardian:

Up-and-coming David Highton was Wolves' main hooker following Steve Georgallis' season-ending injury


Gee suffered a recurrence of an early-season shoulder injury and needed reconstruction surgery. He quit Wolves and headed home to Australia.

In June, Van de Velde confirmed it would be his final season as Wolves' head coach, Highton was sacked after he pleaded guilty to taking a banned steroid.

Former Wigan number 9 Jon Clarke was brought in on loan from London Broncos to resolve Wolves' issues at hooker.

Warrington Guardian:

Jon Clarke, on loan from London Broncos playing against his former club Wigan


Wolves advertised for applicants to replace Van de Velde at the end of the season, with chief executive Andy Gatcliffe revealing the new coach would work with Van de Velde until the end of the year.

Warrington Guardian:

Allan Langer leading the way


Skipper Langer, at the age of 34, answered former coach Wayne Bennett's 'SOS' and flew Down Under. In a man-of-the-match fairytale performance Langer led Queensland to State of Origin series glory against New South Wales. Wolves defeated Halifax despite Langer's absence.

Upon Langer's return, Wolves suffered a record league defeat, 70-16 at St Helens.

Hard-working pack star Nutley revealed he had signed a 2002 contract with Cronulla Sharks but admitted he might have stayed if the club had tried harder to keep him.

Wolves lost at home to London Broncos and a group of fans protested for Van de Velde to resign.

Warrington Guardian:

Director Simon Moran and chairman Lord Hoyle


The board of directors asked Van de Velde to step aside for a new coach to start alone from August 1, with the Australian remaining in place until then.

Neil Kelly, in charge at Widnes, signed a statement of intent to become Wolves' new head coach but after Wolves' Cheshire neighbours won their Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final - with possible opportunity to join Super League - Kelly announced he was staying put.

Wolves interviewed Shaun Edwards, who was not in the initial seven applicants considered, with regards to the head coach role.

Warrington Guardian:

Allan Langer with Jerome Guisset in support


Langer quit Wolves due to injury. Also, he had been unhappy with delayed salary payments and the board's handling of Van de Velde's departure.

Former Australia assistant coach Steve Anderson, then revealed as replacement for Van de Velde, was appointed performance director hours before the team, prepared by assistant coach Paul Darbyshire, defeated Super League leaders Bradford.

Warrington Guardian:

Steve Anderson, right, and his right-hand man David Plange parade around Wilderspool prior to the Bradford game after being handed the reins a few hours earlier


It was announced Kohe-Love would be leaving at the season's end, to join Hull FC, and Anderson started to throw youngsters and trialists into the Wolves line-ups in preparation for 2002 recruitment.

Warrington Guardian:

Toa Kohe-Love loses possession against Bradford


Squad rebuilding commenced with Sid Domic, Matty Rodwell, Lee Penny, Jerome Guisset, Dean Busby, Paul Noone, Gary Hulse, Craig Weston, Matt Sturm, Tom O'Reilly, Dale Laughton Nick Fozzard, Kevin Crouthers, Leroy Rivett and Darren Burns signing contracts for 2002.

Warrington Guardian:

Dean Busby elected to hang around for more action in primrose and blue


Promising centre Ian Sibbit revealed he would be joining Melbourne Storm in Australia and Nikau confirmed he would be going home to New Zealand.

Warrington Guardian:

Ian Sibbit, who decided to leave and try his hand in Australia


For the second time in the season, Wolves suffered a record defeat but this time at home. They lost 84-12 to Super League leaders Bradford.

Nikau, Kohe-Love, Nutley, Sibbit, Hunte, Martin Masella and Ian Knott played their last games for Wolves.

Warrington Guardian:

Tongan international Martin Masella


Guisset broke his ankle in the final game of the season at Castleford Tigers.

Nutley was named as the club's Super League player of the year and the Guardian's player of the year. Warrington Supporters' Club and Warrington Wolf Pack members chose Lee Briers as player of the year.



Challenge Cup:

Feb 11: Wolves 48 Woolston Rovers 6

Feb 25: Wolves 20 Leigh Centurions 10

Mar 11: Wolves 32 Villeneuve Leopards 0

Apr 1: Bradford Bulls 32 Wolves 20

Super League:

Mar 2: Wigan Warriors 34 Wolves 6

Mar 18: Wolves 20 Hull FC 32

Mar 25: Wolves 14 Salford 39

Apr 7: Castleford Tigers 16 Wolves 0

Apr 12: Wolves 36 Leeds Rhinos 6

Apr 16: Halifax Blue Sox 30 Wolves 32

Apr 20: Wolves 56 St Helens 22

May 2: Bradford Bulls 56 Wolves 24

May 6: Wolves 36 Huddersfield Giants 16

May 13: London Broncos 38 Wolves 16

May 20: Wolves 24 Wakefield Trinity 30

May 27: Hull FC 32 Wolves 16

Jun 1: Wolves 47 Wigan Warriors 38

Jun 10: Salford City Reds 26 Wolves 18

Jun 17: Wolves 30 Castleford Tigers 16

Jun 22: Leeds Rhinos 24 Wolves 24

Jul 1: Wolves 34 Halifax Blue Sox 22

Jul 7: St Helens 70 Wolves 16

Jul 15: Huddersfield Giants 52 Wolves 10

Jul 21: Wolves 28 London Broncos 31

Jul 29: Wakefield Wildcats 18 Wolves 19

Aug 4: Wolves 18 Bradford Bulls 14

Aug 11: Wolves 27 Castleford Tigers 12

Aug 17: Wigan Warriors 28 Wolves 12

Aug 26: Wolves 28 St Helens 28

Aug 31: Leeds Rhinos 16 Wolves 12

Sep 9: Wolves 12 Bradford Bulls 84

Sep 16: Castleford Tigers 28 Wolves 31



David Bates, Kevin Crouthers and Steve Thomas appeared on trials as Steve Anderson’s first signings at the back end of 2001



P             W            D             L              F              A             Pt

Bradford Bulls    28           22           1             5             1120     474        45

Wigan Warriors 28           22           1             5             989        494        45

Hull FC  28           20           2             6             772        630        42

St Helens              28           17           2             9             924        732        36

Leeds Rhinos      28           16           1             11           774        721        33

London Broncos               28           13           1             14           644        603        27

Warrington Wolves         28           11           2             15           646        860        24

Castleford Tigers               28           10           1             17           581        777        21

Halifax Blue Sox 28           9             0             19           630        819        18

Salford City Reds              28           8             0             20           587        956        16

Wakefield Wildcats          28           8             0             20           529        817        14

Huddersfield Giants         28           6             1             21           613        926        13



App        T              G             Dg           Pt

David Alstead     5+3        0             0             0             0

David Bates         1+2        0             0             0             0

Lee Briers             25+2     12           86           4             224

Dean Busby        18+4     4             0             0             16

Jon Clarke            17+1     4             0             0             16

Will Cowell          0             0             0             0             0

Kevin Crouthers                4+0        3             0             0             12

Andrew Gee        8+1        0             0             0             0

Steve Georgallis 8+2        2             0             0             8

Mark Gleeson    2+1        3             0             0             12

Jerome Guisset  20+9     2             0             0             8

David Highton    12           0             0             0             0

John Hill               0+1        0             0             0             0

Gary Hulse           5+1        1             0             0             4

Alan Hunte          28           16           0             0             64

David Kidwell     15+11   10           0             0             40

Ian Knott             5+3        2             1             0             10

Toa Kohe-Love  21+2     13           0             0             52

Allan Langer        23+0     4             0             0             16

Steve McCurrie  17+10   8             0             0             32

Martin Masella  13+14   5             0             0             20

Gary Mercer       18           2             0             0             8

Tawera Nikau     28           6             0             0             24

Paul Noone         7+10     2             0             0             8

Danny Nutley     25+2     0             0             0             0

Tom O’Reilly       0+1        0             0             0             0

Ian Parry              0+1        0             0             0             0

Lee Penny            18+1     9             0             0             36

Alan Reddicliffe 1             0             0             0             0

Ian Sibbit             25+2     13           0             0             52

Paul Smith           0+1        0             0             0             0

Rob Smyth          26+0     14           17           0             90

Jamie Stenhouse              9+4        1             0             0             4

Anthony Swann                3             1             0             0             4

Steve Thomas    2             0             0             0             0

Kris Tickle             0             1             0             0             0

Kevin Walters     4             1             0             0             4

David Whittle     1+2        0             0             0             0

Paul Wood          2+22     1             0             0             4