St Maries Vikings

stmariesvikings

Widnes St Maries A.R.L.F.C was formed in 1937 when some ex pupils of St Maries R.C. School in Widnes got together with the headmaster Mr Joseph Ludden and decided to continue to play in the local leagues as a junior team. Little did they know that seventy years later “The Maries” would be thriving in Division 1 of the top amateur league the National Conference and playing against professional opposition such as Barrow and Batley Bulldogs recently. They also have a very successful open age team in North West Counties (an organisation that they were founder members of) that has been Champions for the past 3 seasons. The Youth and Junior set up is very strong and has regularly produced players for Open Age. In those far off days no one could have imagined that Saints would have won every honour that the amateur game has to offer and under coach Stephen Hunt they won the Division 2 and then the Division 1 Championship and the North West Counties Cup twice in his first coaching spell. Dave Ruane went on to win the Division 2 NCL title and back to back Widnes Cup Finals before relinquishing the reins once again to Ste. Most of the teams in Widnes have
or have had players in their sides that started their playing days at St Maries.

The worst spell in their history hit the Saints just as B.A.R.L.A. had started in 1971. Shaken by the tragic loss of centre Jimmy Case, several bad injuries crippled the team one after another. Morale, that vital spirit slumped, good players drifted away and playing with 12 and sometimes 10 players they dropped into the Second Division. However the flame still flickered and a dedicated few quietly rebuilt, taking a most important decision to form a Youth team, the first in the clubs history. The Youth team coach was Jimmy McGillicuddy, no mean player himself, having captained Lancashire and England in his amateur days. He built up a squad of talented players. Ray Ashton, Terry Rose, Les Cook getting recognition with English Youth and county honours. Many predicted disaster for the then struggling St Maries but they were wrong. The go ahead committee approached the McKechnie Recreation Club and received permission to use the club facilities. The rest is history.

St Maries have had some great coaches over the years, Geoff Smart, Willie McGillcuddy, Charlie Henshaw, Dave Ellis, Brian and Bernard McKeown, Peter Clarke, Paul Prendergast, Bobbie Goulding, Ste Hunt and Will Tilleke have all brought success to the club. The arguments will rage long amongst followers of the game and the fortunes of St Maries about who had the greatest success but one name who will always be talked about “Pep” Donegan! Under “Pep”, Saints swept away all opposition collecting trophy after trophy, winning everything they entered into in the 50’s and early 60’s. Players and spectators from the 1950 – 51 season recollect the day Billy Potter scored the try that brought the Lancashire Cup to Widnes.

More recently Bobbie Goulding, Robbie Myler, Dave Smith, Dave Cosgrove, Gary Christie, Gary Burns, Gary McKeown, Tony Hannon, Terry O’Connor, Andy Friar, Lee Connolly, Jimmy Cassidy, Paul Harris, Adam Flanagan, Leighton Smith, Mike Gill, Tony Kirwan, Dayne Donaghue, Scott Yates, Michael Ostick, Vinny Myler and Andy Hibbert plus a host of others have graced the game at a professional level.

Once again St Maries had produced the goods. St Maries have also produced some of the games top referees, including Mick Naughton and Ronnie Campbell. So there you have it. The original ‘People’s Club’.


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