7 memorable London Broncos games at Twickenham Stoop including St Helens, Hull KR..

Ben Olawumi
Twickenham Stoop

A general view of Twickenham Stoop taken during a Super League match between Harlequins RL (now-London Broncos) and Catalans Dragons in 2011

London Broncos will end a near 11-year hiatus from Twickenham Stoop when they return there to host St Helens in Super League on Sunday.

The capital club have – as far as we can recall – had 14 different home venues in their 44-year history. But not many of those have properly felt like a ‘home’, often having to play one-off games in different places.

That’s the case this weekend, but the Stoop is definitely under the category of ‘familiar surroundings’, with Sunday’s game the 160th that the Broncos will have hosted there across all competitions – including their time under the ‘Harlequins’ tagline.

Here, we take a look at back at seven memorable clashes picked from their 159 at the Stoop so far in chronological order…

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London Broncos 34-50 St Helens – November 1, 1995 (Championship)

The Broncos’ first-ever game at the Stoop and the first-ever rugby league game played there came n the 1995/96 season, the final campaign before the dawn of the summer era and Super League.

Their home venues that year also included Brentford FC’s Griffin Park, Barnet Copthall & Charlton Athletic’s ‘The Valley’, but there were four home games at the Stoop, starting with this one.

1,561 were in attendance as a nine-try display from Saints – including a hat-trick from Anthony Sullivan – earned the visitors the win. Chris McKenna also got a hat-trick for the Broncos that day.

London Broncos 24-28 St Helens – March 16, 1997 (SL)

Having spent the first season of Super League with The Valley as their home, London moved to the Stoop for the 1997 campaign, and their first Super League game there was – coincidentally – also against Saints in Round 1.

With a young Lee Briers in the halves donning the Red V, Karle Hammond scored a brace for the visitors who took the victory by a four-point margin. Martin Offiah was among the Broncos’ try-scorers.

Having finished 4th the year prior, London would end 1997 as the runners-up in Super League, finishing the campaign seven points behind champions Bradford Bulls.

The Broncos then fell at the first hurdle in the Premiership which followed.

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London Broncos 38-18 Canberra Raiders – July 21, 1997 (WCC)

Midway through that ’97 campaign came a newly-expanded World Club Championship, with all 22 clubs from Super League (UK) & the Australasian Super League – which preceded the NRL – involved.

Having been beaten by Brisbane Broncos, Canberra & Canterbury Bulldogs, London returned home and welcomed the Raiders to the Stoop in the fourth round of fixtures – pulling off an almighty upset to earn one of the club’s most famous wins ever.

Both teams had a man sin-binned on the day – Scott Roskell for the capital club and Laurie Daley for Canberra – with the score locked at 14-14 at the break. 7,819 were in attendance, and they saw a scintillating second half showing from the hosts, with seven goals from the boot of Greg Barwick proving vital in helping Tony Currie’s side over the line.

When the play-offs of the competition came about at the end of the season, London would bow out to Cronulla at the quarter-final stage, beaten 40-16 at the Stoop. No club from the UK Super League made it further.

London Broncos 46-18 Hull KR – March 15, 1998 (CC QF)

London’s finest hour in the Challenge Cup came in 1999 when they reached the competition’s final, but circa 14 months earlier, they made it into the semi-finals courtesy of a dominant quarter-final showing against KR at the Stoop.

Seven different stars made it onto the scoresheet for the Broncos in front of a crowd of 4,111 with Robbie Beazley & Chris Ryan both grabbing braces.

Again, the capital club’s goal-kicker completely dominated his counterpart, with Damien Chapman earning 10 of the Broncos’ points with his boot.

Currie’s side would be beaten by Wigan in the semi-finals, with Sheffield Eagles pulling off one of rugby league’s greatest-ever upsets that year at Wembley with victory in the final against the Warriors.

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Harlequins 22-16 Huddersfield Giants – April 29, 2006 (SL)

The club returned to Harlequins’ home on a permanent basis in the 2006 season, formally taking on their name and crest as a result.

In April of that season, they attracted a crowd of 12,301 to the Stoop for a clash with Huddersfield – to date, that remains the club’s highest-ever Super League attendance.

Then under the stewardship of Tony Rea, the capital club were 12-6 up come the break and went on to secure a 22-16 victory, with Nick Bradley-Qalilawa crossing for two tries. Henry Paul was on target with one of his three conversion attempts.

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Harlequins 31-30 Wigan Warriors – September 10, 2006 (SL)

Later that same year, Quins’ Super League status was rubber-stamped courtesy of a win in an absolute thriller against Wigan at the Stoop, with 5,737 in attendance. The defeat also saw the Warriors’ faint hopes of making the play-offs brought to an end.

Full-back Mark McLinden’s drop-goal towards the end of the first half made the difference come the final hooter after three Wigan tries in the space of 13 minutes saw a 19-point lead cut down to a one-point advantage.

The hosts, who had seen Solomon Haumono & Lee Hopkins score two tries apiece – though held on to secure their Super League survival with a game to spare.

Going on to win at home against Salford the following week, Quins finished 7th, ending the campaign three points outside the play-off spots and a point above Wigan, who had been deducted two points earlier in the year for salary cap breaches.

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London Broncos 48-42 Hull KR – September 8, 2012 (SL)

The Harlequins name stayed until the end of the 2011 campaign, re-branding back to ‘London Broncos’ ahead of the 2012 season, though the majority of their home games that year were still played at the Stoop including this humdinger with KR in the final game of the campaign for both teams.

A month or so earlier, Rea had been appointed as London’s head coach for the second time, replacing Rob Powell. On a day which saw Robins ace Michael Dobson sin-binned, Rea saw his London side score eight tries and concede another eight.

Again, the man with the kicking tee for the capital club proved vital – Craig Gower slotting home all eight conversions with a 100% record while the visitors missed three of their attempts.

The Broncos finished 12th after that win, and would enjoy one more year at the Stoop in 2013 before moving on amid a whole host of financial issues ahead of the 2014 campaign – the season which would see them relegated.

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