Widnes Tigers

widnes-tigers

Widnes Tigers ARLFC was formed in 1971. Down the years, the Tigers have played a big part in the town’s sporting life and helped to launch and develop the careers of countless rugby league players, including high-profile professionals. The late GRAHAM TILLETT has written a potted history of the Tigers who were founded by the late Mick Naughton, a top-flight RL referee. He also explains how the club has come home in its big anniversary season.

In 1971, schoolboy rugby league in Widnes was at its lowest ebb with hardly any regular competitive matches being played at secondary school level – despite most youngsters having played at junior schools.

Having attended a RL coaching course at Lilleshall, the legendary rugby league referee Mick Naughton hit on the idea of forming a Sunday Coaching School, which would keep the lads interested in playing as well as giving them the opportunity of keeping in touch with the game. This was intended to run for six weeks and attracted approximately 30 boys at first, based at Leigh Recreation Ground. The sessions were very popular and quickly gathered momentum. With more than 130 boys eventually attending after just a few weeks, it was decided to continue to run it for longer.

A committee of parents was formed from those who regularly helped Mick out, with the objective of raising funds to finance playing kits and balls. Two teams were formed and games were organised and played against boys in Batley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Swinton. The two teams were called Widnes Tigers and this was the foundation of today’s Widnes Tigers organisation – 40 years on playing in the North West Counties League within BARLA and the Rugby League framework.

The Tigers first showed the way for other outside organisations to follow and as such, contributed to the re-establishment of RL at schoolboy level for lads who would not then have had the chance of playing the greatest game in the world. As the club grew and attracted more youth and junior teams, the next milestone in its development came a few years later with the development of a site on Chapel Lane into the Widnes Tigers clubhouse, changing facilities and two pitches. This ambitious, ground-breaking project involved much fundraising and was undertaken by a dedicated committee made up of Tigers members, coaches and officials led by club secretary John Carroll.

The original clubhouse is still there today and despite changing hands over the years, is again firmly established once more as a successful sports club – now called the Parklands – owned by local entrepreneurs Viv & Mark Freeman.

The team is now based once more at their former home, sharing the rugby facilities with St Maries ARLFC.