THE years building up to World War One were eventful for Warrington and the Northern Union as a whole.

The players at Warrington were in dispute again and were on strike for the second time in the club's history in 1913/14.

Club officials were being kept busy because they were also working towards purchasing their ground off Greenall Whitley.

That deal was completed in 1914 with the freehold being held in trust for club members until it became a limited liability company in 1941.

Twenty five players from the Warrington club enlisted in the forces in 1914, but over the five years at war there were more than 90 past and present Warrington players who served their country.

George Thomas was one of the fatalities. He was the man who set the club's record individual points haul for one match in the record 78-6 victory over St Helens in 1909. He scored five tries and nine goals.

But prior to World War One there was a battle Down Under which did not feature any Warrington players.

In 1914 came the Great Britain tour which was to include the magnificent 'Rorke's Drift' Test.

After several warm up matches came the most remarkable eight-day period in Test history a period that has never been equalled in the game and it culminated in the courageous Rorke's Drift' encounter. Three Tests were played at Sydney during the brief period. Despite injuries the Northern Union won the first Test 23-5.

Incredibly, the second Test had been arranged for two days later and the Australians won 12-7 in front of a 55,000 crowd.

Capitalising on public interest the Australian authorities threw the tourists' plans into complete chaos by rearranging the third Test just five days later. In vain the British managers, Messrs J. H. Houghton and W. J. Clifford, protested and when Mr. Clifford cabled Northern Union headquarters in Britain, a hastily convened management committee meeting, in true stiff upper lip manner, instructed the tourists to play.

The message that came back from England concluded in true Nelson fashion: "England expects that every man will do his duty."

The British team didn't let their country down far from it. The crowd again topped 40,000 and they witnessed a rear guard action, by the tourists which was immediately dubbed 'Rorke's Drift' after the Zulu war action in which two British officers and 80 men held out against 4,000 Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift, Zululand, in January 1879.

In the first two minutes of the game winger Frank Williams twisted his leg, but despite this handicap, the tourists led 9-3 at half-time.

Early in the second half Huddersfield forward D. Clark broke his collar bone. He tried to resume but had to leave the field and then Frank Williams' leg gave out and he left the field. To add to Britain's troubles Billy Hall suffered concussion going down on a loose ball.

Ten tourists faced 13 Australians, a totally hopeless task with still 30 minutes to go, yet the miracle happened. There was less than 20 minutes to go when Johnson kicked and dribbled half the length of the field to touch down for a try and Wood landed a goal. Hall came staggering back on the field, Britain held out and at the end of the game the Sydney crowd rose and cheered the Britons off the field. The score was 14-6 and the series had been won against unbelievable odds.