Warrington were one of the twenty one founder clubs of the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895 after splitting from the Rugby Football Union. Warrington\\\’s first game in what would become Rugby League resulted in a 5-4 victory over Hunslet at Wilderspool. Two years later brought the first ever Challenge Cup competition to the sport and after a first round scoreless draw at Broughton, Warrington progressed as far as the semi finals, where they were beaten 6-0 by Batley at Fartown, Huddersfield.
1898 saw the short move to what is now the known position of the club\\\’s Wilderspool stadium when brewers Greenall Whitley leased the ground for 10 years. The year also saw professionalism brought to the sport, although players were also required to have alternative employment. The first game at the new and final site saw Warrington draw 3-3 with Swinton.
Warrington appeared in their first Challenge Cup final in 1901, losing to Batley at Headingley, Leeds in front of just under 30,000 spectators. Later that year, Warrington were one of 14 clubs to form the new Northern Rugby League which was the footing for the sport as we know it today. The league was split into two leagues and thus forming the still unbroken record of Warrington being the only team never to have played outside the top flight of the sport.
With signing on fees as astronomical as cigar, a small lemonade and a pat on the back, Warrington again reached the Challenge Cup final in 1906 and were victorious for the first time, beating Hull KR 6-0 at Headingley. The following year saw a proposal from Warrington reducing the amount of players from 15, to 13. 1907 then saw the club lift the Challenge Cup for a second time, beating Oldham 17-3 in the final at Broughton
The league was then suspended during the war after many players were sent off to battle and others were involved in government work. Player George Thomas never returned from the Somme, after being “blown apart” by a German shell.
In 1922, the Northern Union changed it\\\’s name to Rugby League, which is a title it carries to this day.
Between the two wars, Warrington were unsuccessful in the league and Challenge Cup, although four Lancashire Cups and one Lancashire League trophy made their way to Wilderspool. Another period of suspension followed with rugby league not being played at Wilderspool between 1940 and 1945, with the stadium used as a storage depot during the war.
The 10th of November 1945 saw the debut of what was to become arguably the greatest rugby league player in the history of the sport. Brian Bevan, although he was named in the “A” team to play Widnes as A.N. Other. He started as he would go on, scoring a wonder try, before making his full debut against Oldham the following week, again as A.N.Other and immediately signed a three year contract following the game.
Another future legend in Harry Bath signed for Warrington in 1948 and he helped Warrington to second in the league, where they then went on to beat Bradford in the Championship final at Maine Road, the first league success in the club\\\’s history. The following year, 75,000 watched Warrington fail to hold on to their Championship trophy, as they lost to Huddersfield at Maine Road. 1950 saw Warrington in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley. It would be their first triumph at the national stadium, beating local rivals Widnes 19-0 in front of just under 95,000 people.
The 1953 season was undoubtedly the greatest in the club\\\’s history, securing the league and cup double. Halifax beat Warrington to top spot in the league and were the opponents at Wembley for the Challenge Cup final. A 4-4 draw meant a replay at Odsal in Bradford would be required. The official attendance for that replay was 102,569, although there were upwards of 120,000 inside of the stadium after spectators found alternative routes into the stadium. Warrington won the game 8-4. Warrington then faced Halifax in the Championship final three days later, running out 8-7 victors to secure the double. Brian Bevan ended the season contributing 62 tries to his Warrington career total of 740.
Warrington defended their Championship trophy the following yeah, with a 7-3 victory over Oldham at Maine Road, where Bevan scored his 61st try of the season.
Brian Bevan made his farewell appearance for the club in 1962, before moving to Blackpool. The winger scored 740 tries in 620 appearances for the club, a world record that is unlikely to ever be broken.
After the departure of Bevan and severe financial problems, the club almost disbanded in 1970, before a local businessman stepped in and too over the club. Dwindling attendances and poor performances on the field meant he had a tough job to turn the club around.
The 1972/73 season saw a 20 match unbeaten run enable Warrington finish top of the league, although a shock loss to Dewsbury at Wilderspool meant the season had been in vain. Coach Alex Murphy finally brought a trophy to the club the following season, with the club beating Featherstone 24-9 at Wembley, for their first major trophy in 19 years. It would be their last major trophy of the century aswell. Although three Lancashire cups and three Regal trophies were won in this period.
In 1996, the top flight of English rugby league switched from a winter season to the summer, as the Super League was formed, with the help of a massive TV deal from Sky Sports. At the beginning of the Super League era, most teams adopted a moniker into their names. Warrington RLFC became the Warrington Wolves.
The early years of the new millennium saw the Wolves flirt with relegation and administration. A new stadium was needed to help the club financially, with the now dilapidated Wilderspool in a dire condition and with housing and industry surrounding it, expansion was not an option.
After their first play off appearance following the final year at Wilderspool, Warrington moved to the new Halliwell Jones on Winwick Road, on the opposite side of the town centre to Wilderspool. A sell out crowd of 14,206 saw a win over Wakefield, with Nathan Wood the scorer of the stadium\\\’s first try. After some safety issues, the capacity of the stadium was reduced to 13,024.
Warrington shocked the rugby league world in 2005 by signing Australian legend Andrew Johns on loan from Newcastle Knights for the remaining weeks of the season and the end of season play offs. This signing would pay financial dividends for years to come and “Joey” would also help Warrington sign other big name players in the future, including NRL grand final winners.
Warrington are on a sure financial footing, with director Simon Moran able to pump millions into the club and sign high profile players. This helped the Wolves secure a franchise place for a revamped 14 team league from 2009, with no promotion or relegation. The Warrington bid was one of the best of the 19 received and were granted a franchise with an “A” in the areas required.
In 2009, after a poor start, the Wolves brought in Tony Smith as Head Coach to replace James Lowes who returned to an assisting role. The move brought an immediate impact as the Wolves\\\’ lowly start was eradicated and they climbed towards a play-off place. Success – rarely felt in Cheshire despite being tipped to win a major trophy in most recent seasons – was finally achieved as the Wolves lifted the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, after beating Huddersfield 25-16.