Widnes Vikings News
The Widnes Vikings are not only one of the worlds oldest Rugby League clubs, having been part of the original twenty-two members of the Northern union, but they are also one of the most successful in the sport having won national championships, Challenge Cups and also the World Club Challenge.
Based in the north-west of England county of Cheshire, the club are in the sports heartlands and have been at the very top level of the sport for much of its history but unfortunately, the past decade or so have been more of a struggle.
Despite their successes and their location, it can be difficult for fans to find the latest news stories regarding the Vikings but now there is an effortless way to keep up with all things Widnes RL and that is right here at 13v13.
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The club play at the modern Halton Stadium, in the town of Widnes, with the ground offering a modern set of 4 seating stands.
When full it is capable of hosting around 13,500 fans and it is known for having a great atmosphere for big game matches.
That puts the club on the western end of the sports M62 corridor heartland.
Widnes were formed way back in 1875 and were amongst the original 22 breakaway members of the and since then the club have gone on to become one of the most successful clubs, both in the British game and on the global scale.
Widnes have a strong rivalry with their neighbours the Warrington Wolves and despite spending much of the summer era struggling towards the foot of the super League table or in the 2nd tier of the sport, they made history by been the first club to play on a 4g pitch.
The club had an interesting start to life as it grew out of the Farnworth and Appleton Crocket Club who after forming in 1871, decided to try the burgeoning new sport of Football.
The first known games for the new club were played in 1876, when they faced Northwich at hoe playing Rugby rules before playing away but under Association Football rules (soccer).
Those were the only matches to be played that year but by May the club had changed its name to Widnes FC, with the Cricket side of the club disbanding and by the late 1870’s, the club were nicknamed ‘The Chemicals’ which would become shortened to ‘The Chemics’.
The club would move around a number of new locations around the town before making the move to Naughton park in 1895, with the club first game there been against Liversedge on Saturday 12th of October 1895.
That was of course the same year as the establishment of the Northern Union, for which Widnes were one of the 22 clubs to breakaway from the RFU to form their own code.
Their first match in the new code came at Runcorn where they lost 15 points to 4.
For much of the first decade or so of the new code, Widnes were a selling club as they were good at producing players but needed a consistent cash intake to balance the books and so when the Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues merged, the club were placed in the 2nd tier.
The clubs first success came in the 1919-20 season when they picked up the Lancashire League trophy but what looked like been the start of a decade of success in the 1920’s was anything but as the club struggled for finances and almost had to shut down.
In the end, it was mostly down to the help of their rivals Warrington that saved the club as they donated the profits from the huge Boxing Day and Easter Weekend match ups to the clubs survival fund.
Thankfully, things did improve and in 1930 the club won their first national trophy when they took on and defeat rivals St Helens in the Challenge Cup final by 10 points to 3 with a team featuring 12 locally born players.
In 1932, the club opened Naughton Park on the site of their current stadium, with the money to build it sourced from fans but things were helped by a couple of visits to Wembley in the 1930’s, with a further win in 1937.
The post war era started well for Widnes after they won their first ever Lancashire County Cup following a 7-3 victory over Wigan in 1945 and in 1950, they were back at Wembley but lost to their arch rivals Warrington.
The late 60’s and 70’s saw the club build a reputation as the ‘Cup Kings’, with victories not only coming at Wembley Stadium but in the Lancashire Cup, the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, the John Player Trophy and they also picked up their first ever league championship in 1978.
That success continued into the 1980’s as the club defeated Hull KR to win the 1980-81 Challenge Final and further success would continue in a decade when the club joined the ranks of the elite.
Widnes started to splash the cash during that decade including the signings of Jonathan Davies from Rugby Unions Llanelli and Martin Offiah which helped the club to win the 1988 and 89 Championships and the 1984 Challenge Cup.
In the 1989-90 seaosn, the club headed over the channel to Avignon to face off against the French title winners Le Pentet and after defeating their hosts, the club were chosen as the Northern Hemispheres representative in the inaugural WCC where they faced off against Canberra in a match that they won and became the first every Club World Champions.
Unfortunately, that success was shot lived as with all of the huge spending the club had undertook came back to haunt them and financial problems riddled the club, leading to the exit of most of their big stars.
By the time of the new ‘Summer Era’ in 1996, the club were struggling towards the foot of the top tier and after a period when it looked like they would be in the new league and then not, and a mooted merger with Warrington, the club finally found themselves not gaining place in the Super League.
The club took on the moniker of the Vikings after nearly becoming the Warriors but there on the field performances continued to struggle but off of the field things improved as the club rebuilt there home ground to become a modern all seater venue now known as the Halton Stadium.
Things went wrong quite quickly however and by the end of the 2005 seaosn, they were relegated once again.
Widnes would go on to reach the Grand Final in both 2006 and 2007 but they were beaten in both matches and with their owner stepping away, the club were placed into administration.
Thankfully the club were bought but they had to start on -6 points but after qualifying for the play-offs, the club lost to Halifax.
The club finished bottom on their return to the top flight and in 2013 they finished in 10th whilst 2014 saw their upward momentum continue and they finished in the play-offs.
That would be the clubs best season for some time in the top flight as by 2018 there owner had walked away from the club and they were back in financial problems, leading to administration in 2019 and relegation to the 2nd tier once again.
The club undertook a huge fundraising effort form their fans and from fans of other clubs and in the end they were taken over.
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