FOR many, it is hard to believe how life would be without Warrington Wolves.

That was on the horizon at the latter stages of the last century had it not been for the vision, commitment and dedication of the people and organisations who brought The Halliwell Jones Stadium to life on the site of the former Tetley Walker brewery.

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The Wire were in dire straits financially, Wilderspool Stadium was crumbling hour by hour.

A supporters’ campaign initiated by Warrington Guardian, a 30,000-strong petition, a council ‘yes’ vote, a planning minister’s approval and a whole lot of stress and anxiety over a six-year period finally led to Wolves’ new den and adjacent Tesco store taking root.

The state-of-the-art ground, which became a template for stadia across the country, changed everything - a place where fans wanted to watch, where players wanted to play and where businesses wanted to provide support.

Looking back now, 15 years to the day that The Wire hosted Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in a memorable maiden match, so much could have been so different.

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Fans flocked to The Wire's first game at The Halliwell Jones Stadium 15 years ago today. Picture by Mike Boden

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Lee Briers runs out onto the Halliwell Jones Stadium turf for the first time. Picture by Mike Boden

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Nathan Wood scores the first ever Wire try at the new ground. Picture by Mike Boden

There would highly unlikely have been three Challenge Cup Final successes, two further Wembley trips, three Grand Final appearances and two League Leaders’ Shield triumphs - arguably in the most successful 10-year period in the club’s history.

Rugby League World Cup matches, UEFA Women’s European Championship football, Championship finals, Challenge Cup semi finals and sporting superstars have also graced The Wire’s cherished home, which provides a brilliant setting for awards ceremonies and weddings among other functions.

It is home to NHS facilities and the renowned Warrington Wolves Foundation, which does so much important work in the community.

The Wire have now played 236 competitive matches at the ground, winning 161 of them and drawing four.

Excitement continues to grow about the current Wolves campaign and perhaps this could be the year the team complete an unbeaten season at home.

Two losses in 17 home games in 2013 is the best record so far.

Hopefully one day soon the venue will be the home of champions.

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Fans’ representative Mark Fearnley who spoke out to earn the ‘yes’ vote

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Ben Westwood during The Wire's first game at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, above, and representing England in the first international game played on the ground in 2004. Pictures: Mike Boden

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