WARRINGTON Wolves turned back the clock with the unveiling of a restored version of the old Wilderspool scoreboard at Victoria Park as legends of the club took a trip down memory lane.
Past players turned out in force to mark the occasion alongside current squad member Bennie Westwood, the ‘last man standing’ from the Wilderspool era, who was involved in the final Super League game at the old stadium against his home town club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Westwood played for 18 months at Wilderspool and admits he wondered what he had done when he first set sights on the stadium after signing from Wakefield!
Now a veteran of the game and the longest serving player at the club, Westwood has no regrets and is hopeful Warrington can at long last win the Grand Final before he finally hangs up his boots!
Westwood was joined by many former players including Warrington born and bred Paul Cullen, who was Coach on that final day at Wilderspool.
‘I couldn’t sleep for a week before it, he said. ‘It was a game we just couldn’t lose. But it wasn’t about winning a game of rugby league, it was about leaving Wilderspool with dignity.’
Other past players who attended included Welsh Wizards John Bevan and Mike Nicholas, Mark Forster, Ken Kelly and Jackie Edwards, father of Wigan legend Shaun.
Also in attendance was club chairman Stuart Middleton, who recounted watching the team from the Wilderspool terraces as a young boy, to becoming a club sponsor investing £5,000 in the club, including sponsorship of the scoreboard.
‘It’s certainly cost me a lot more since then,’ he said, since investing around £1.5m to help the club become the success it is today.
On hand to capture snapshots of the occasion was local photographer Eddie Whitham who has been taking pictures at the club since 1958 including the famous night in October 1978 when Warrington beat the touring Australians 15-12, despite missing a number of regulars including internationals Ken Kelly and John Bevan.
Mike Nicholas turned up to watch after being sidelined with a thumb injury but ended up being drafted into the team an hour before kick off!
After fans helped raise £6,000 to kick start the Wire2Wolves project, work started at 4.40pm on Thursday, September 21, 2017, exactly 14 years on from the final whistle of Warrington Wolves’ final game at Wilderspool, against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 2003.
The work was carried out at Total Steelwork and Fabrications, owned by club director Mike Lomax, just a few yards from the club’s new home, the Halliwell Jones Stadium and includes the original scorebroad clock.
The unveiling marked 15 years since the clubs first game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, which was also against Wakefield Trinity in 2004.
Warrington Wolves Foundation Chief Executive Neil Kerly said: ‘There have also been many significant times in our heritage with anniversaries in 2019.
‘It was 25 years since Jonathan Davies was named Man of Steel and 25 years since Mike Wainwright and Jon Roper made their debuts for the club.
‘It was sixty years ago Alistair Brindle played his last game for Warrington and it was also Mike Gregory’s last game for club that week 25 years ago.