The Barrow Raiders are a professional rugby league team in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. The club play home games at Craven Park and compete in the Championship, the second tier of British rugby league.

Barrow Raiders
Club information
Full nameBarrow Rugby League Football Club Ltd
Founded1875; 149 years ago (1875)
Current details
ChairmanSteve Neale
CoachPaul Crarey
CompetitionRFL Championship
2023 RFL Championship11th
Current season
Home colours
Away colours
Challenge Cups'1 (1954–55)
Second Division3 (1975–76, 1983–84, 2009)
Highest try scorer{{{tries}}} – Willie Horne 113
Highest points scorer' – Darren Holt 2,403

Barrow have never won the League Championship, their only major honour being winning the Challenge Cup in 1955.

Traditionally the club's home colours are blue and white and main rivals are fellow semi-professional Cumbrian teams Whitehaven and Workington Town.

History edit

Early years edit

A Barrow side met the 1921 Kangaroos in a tour match

Barrow Football Club was formed in 1875 and played its first home game on 4 December of that year against the Royal Grammar School, Lancaster, at Cavendish Park on Barrow Island, then home to the town's cricket club.[2] It is thought that Tom H. Baynes, a shipping clerk, was the driving force behind the club's foundation. As well as being a player, he was probably also the first Barrow team coach. Early practice matches games were played in "a field loaned by a local farmer" as well as the Parade Ground and the aforementioned Cavendish Park.

At the 1883 annual general meeting, Cavendish Park got the vote over the Parade Ground as a permanent home on account of its better playing surface.[2] The first grandstand there was erected in 1893, and another one in 1893.

In April 1897, the team switched from rugby union to rugby league following a unanimous vote at the club. Barrow joined the Second Division of the Lancashire Senior Competition and became champions in their first season. They lost a test match against Morecambe, the bottom club in the First Division, however, and failed to gain promotion.[citation needed] They were eventually promoted at the end of the 1899–1900 season, by defeating Tyldesley in the test match.[citation needed]

In 1908, the club nearly doubled their attendance record to 12,000 in a third round Challenge Cup match against Hunslet.[2]

In 1914, Cavendish Park was requisitioned by the authorities for the war effort. Barrow moved to Little Park, Roose, three miles from the centre of town. The first match there was a 31–2 victory over Bramley. The league at this time was suspended and clubs were forced to arrange their own fixtures in an unofficial war league. Boosted by an influx of players and spectators into the local shipyards for war production, Barrow became one of the dominant teams of the war period, winning the unofficial championship title in 1917–18 losing just twice in 22 matches.

Interwar Period and move to Craven Park edit

Willie Horne started his career at Barrow

After World War I, Barrow had mixed fortunes and when the league resumed in 1919–20, they managed to finish fifth. However, over the next decade, despite having several county and national players, Barrow's form suffered and its league position was poor.

In 1929, it had been realised that rugby league in Barrow was approaching a precarious period, as the attendances at Little Park were gradually decreasing. This was in part due to industrial depression but also Little Park's location. The directors made an appeal to the town, and approached the mayor, Alderman John Whinnerah who was to be an ardent supporter. Commander G. W. Craven, a local war hero, started an appeal fund with a donation of £500. In a short time the club bought a central site, where the Jute Works stood for £2,500. Craven Park was built in 1931, largely as a result of the efforts of supporters, 500 of whom volunteered to construct the ground. The total cost of the building project came to £7,500 (based on increases in average earnings, this would be approximately £1,251,000 in 2013).[3]

1937–38 saw Barrow reach the finals of the Lancashire County Cup for the first time, losing narrowly 4–8 to Warrington. That season was a time of great opportunity for the Barrow team but was to end in disappointment. After playing seven matches in just ten days, they lost 7–4 to Salford in the final of the Challenge Cup at Wembley; they also lost in the Championship play-off semi-final 13–7 against Hunslet. A new attendance record was set in that season – 21,651 in the Good Friday game against Salford.

Post Second World War edit

Craven Park, the current home of Barrow Raiders

Barrow dropped out of the wartime Lancashire league in 1940–41, they did not return to league competition until 1945–46. As many of the pre-war players had retired, this was an era of rebuilding and recruiting.

The 1950s were the club's heyday. The team was captained by Willie Horne and Barrow appeared no less than three times at Wembley. On 5 May 1951, Barrow made their second appearance at Wembley and were beaten 10–0 by Wigan. On Saturday 27 October 1951 13,319 spectators were at Barrow to watch the home side beat New Zealand 9–5. On 30 April 1955, Barrow made their third appearance at Wembley. This time, they won the Challenge Cup 21–12 against Workington Town, later that year they added the Lancashire Cup after a 12–2 win over Oldham.

On 11 May 1957, Barrow played again in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley against Leeds and were narrowly beaten 9–7. 1957 signalled the end of the golden era of the club and most of the star players retired after this time.

The league split into two divisions in 1961–62 and because of a poor finish in the previous season, Barrow was forced to play in the second division.

In 1963, Jim Challinor moved to Barrow and became their player-coach.

Their last appearance at Wembley Stadium was in 1967, where they were strongly tipped to win the Challenge Cup final again, but were beaten by Featherstone Rovers 17–12. A crowd of 77,000 paid a then record £54,435 to watch the game (based on increases in average earnings, this would be approximately £1,625,000 in 2013).[3]

1973 saw Barrow appoint former player, Frank Foster, as coach. He built a side which won the Second Division championship in 1975–76 and reached a John Player Trophy final in 1981 only to lose 5–12 to Warrington. Phil Hogan was transferred to Hull Kingston Rovers in 1978 for a then world record fee of £33,000 (based on increases in average increases, this would be approximately £249,700 in 2013).[3]

Barrow fluctuated between divisions but had three consecutive years in the top flight between 1980 and 1983. Frank Foster was eventually replaced by Tommy Dawes in 1983.

The season 1983–84 saw Barrow win the Second Division title and the Lancashire Cup against favourites Widnes 12–8. The entire Barrow team was inducted into the Barrow Hall of Fame in 2003. Tommy Dawes, despite his initial success, was sacked in 1985.

In 1988–89, Australian Rod Reddy took on a player-coach role at Barrow in 1987. Barrow earned promotion to Division One but that campaign saw Barrow manage only one league win and suffer a club record 90–0 defeat at Leeds. Reddy was sacked and Denis Jackson took over as a caretaker coach for the rest of 1989–90.

After relegation in 1990, Barrow appointed a new coach in Steve Norton but finished 17th out of 21 in Division Two.

Summer era edit

Barrow Raiders player, Zeb Luisi attempting to tackle Shaun Ainscough of Wigan

In 1996, the first tier of British rugby league clubs played the inaugural Super League season and changed from a winter to a summer season.[4] When the Super League competition had been proposed, part of the deal was that some traditional clubs would merge. Barrow were down to merge with Whitehaven, Workington Town and Carlisle to form a new club called Cumbria based in Workington which would compete in the Super League but ultimately this did not happen and Barrow were not part of the new competition.

Until 1995 the team was simply titled Barrow RLFC, but they adopted the nickname Barrow Braves to coincide with rugby league's switch to a summer season. Peter Roe was head coach for a 15-month period, ending in January 1996.

Barrow Border Raiders (1997–2002) edit

In 1997 they merged with Cumbrian rivals Carlisle to form Barrow Border Raiders. Carlisle's Paul Charlton became coach of the new team. The new team played all its matches in Barrow; the merger was essentially a financial arrangement only. Barrow enjoyed mixed fortunes under Paul Charlton with two top-ten finishes in the Northern Ford Premiership in 1999 and 2000, before the club's fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 2001 season, which resulted in Paul Charlton not being offered a new contract.Eskdale & Liddesdale Advertiser | Charlo bids for Barrow return In 2002, the Border part of the name, which was never particularly relevant to South Cumbria-based Barrow, was dropped.

Barrow Raiders (2002–2010) edit

Under Peter Roe's second spell at Craven Park, they were National League Two champions in 2004, their first trophy for 20 years. They were promoted to National League One. However, they were relegated back to National League Two at the end of the 2005 season after winning just one of their 18 matches. The financial situation at the club forced a review of the coaching structure and the position of head coach was made part-time and the club parted company with Peter Roe. In October 2005, local ex-player Paul Crarey was appointed as head coach. In his first season as coach of the Raiders he guided them to the National League Two play-offs on a very limited budget. After the end of the 2007 season, Paul Crarey controversially resigned from Barrow Raiders, after guiding them to a second successive play-off position.

Barrow had initially lined up former Widnes coach Steve McCormack to take over until he received an offer of a position with Super League club Hull KR. On Thursday 2 November 2007 Barrow Raiders announced that former player Welsh-born Aussie Dave Clarke would take over, with Dean Marwood as his assistant. On 23 August 2008, Raiders gained automatic promotion from National League Two by beating Swinton 12–32 to clinch second place in National League Two.

On 5 April 2009, a crowd of 6275 watched Barrow play Super League club Wigan in the best attended match in recent years.[5] Barrow held out but were eventually defeated 32–20. On 21 July Despite the club being 2nd in the league and having made the Northern Rail Cup Final coach Dave Clarke stepped down and became assistant to new head coach Steve Deakin.

On 31 August 2009, after just 6 weeks in charge, Steve Deakin left the club and Dave Clarke reclaimed the head coach role, leading the club to the 2009 Co-Op Championship league leaders trophy and a grand final appearance versus Halifax. In the 2009 Co-Op Championship Grand Final, a 77th minute try settled the game and Barrow beat Halifax 26–18 to claim the Championship title..

Barrow finished fourth in 2010 with coach Steve McCormack leaving the club to take up a teaching post. After a lengthy search for a new coach, Barrow appointed Garry Schofield.

2011 season and relegation to Championship 1 edit

Barrow's application to join the then franchised Super League, after their Championship Grand Final win in 2009, was rejected early in the 2011 season as it was deemed the club did not the meet minimum requirements.[6]

Head Coach Schofield was sacked as coach after only five games in 2011 and his assistant Nigel Wright was appointed in his place. With 6 games to go in July Barrow sacked Nigel Wright and appointed former player Dave Clarke as their manager for the rest of the season.

Rule breaches and RFL charges edit

The on-field problems were matched by off-field difficulties, with the club accused of breaking salary cap rules. A 6-point deduction due to salary cap breaches in the 2010 season, ended any play off hope.[7] At a tribunal in October 2011, claims that the club "systematically breached" the following three rules were upheld.[8]

  • Rule C.1.1.7 – failing to record in player contracts all financial benefits or benefits in kind that a player is receiving;
  • Rule C.1.1.11 – no club or club official shall loan money or goods or make payment or provide any benefit in kind to a player unless they are recorded in the player's contract;
  • Rule D1.8 (f) – misconduct by committing a breach of Championship Salary Cap Regulations.

Their chairman, Des Johnston was banned from any involvement with Rugby League for 8 years[9] and 29 points were deducted for the 2011 season, relegating them to the Co-operative Championship 1.

2012–2017 edit

Success in Championship 1 during 2012 meant that Barrow were promoted directly back up to the Championship the following year. Unable to compete, and after narrowly avoiding relegation in 2013, they were once again relegated at the end of the 2014 season.

At the end of the 2014 season Paul Crarey was re-appointed head coach, replacing Bobbie Goulding. The former player had previously coached the team between 2005 and 2007.[10]

The team strengthened on the field during three consecutive seasons in, the now renamed League 1 with improving table finishes (2015: 7th) (2016: 5th) (2017: 3rd)

On 27 May 2017, Barrow won the League 1 Cup[11] after defeating North Wales Crusaders 38–32 at Bloomfield Road as an opener to the Summer Bash weekend. At the end of the 2017 season, Barrow secured promotion back to the Championship with a 10–6 play-off win against 2nd place Cumbrian rivals Whitehaven.[12]

Return to the Championship (2018–2019) edit

Barrow achieved a better than expected start to the 2018 season with strong results on the field including holding League favourites Toronto to a draw.[13] However, the club faced significant financial issues. For the second time in just over 5 years, chairman David Sharpe announced significant short term cash flow issues.[9][14] Steve Neale replaced Sharpe as chairman stating that there was a "bright future for the club" after raising short term funds.[15] Barrow finished their inaugural Championship season in 10th place avoiding risk of relegation.

The following season, Barrow were once again relegated to the RFL League 1 after a 68–2 defeat against Toronto Wolfpack on 1 September 2019.[16]

Back in League 1 (2020–2021) edit

After relegation from the Championship in 2019, Barrow started their return to life in League 1 with a 32–22 victory over Doncaster on 1 March 2020.[17]

On 16 March the structure and timing of the competition was placed in doubt as all rugby league games were suspended until 3 April at least as part of the United Kingdom's response to the coronavirus pandemic.[18] The suspension of the season was extended to indefinite.[19]

A discussion between the RFL and club officials in May saw seven of the 11 clubs reject a suggestion that the season could recommence with games being played behind closed doors.[20] The RFL board met on 20 July and having consulted with the League 1 clubs decided to abandon the 2020 season as the majority of clubs did not support playing behind closed doors.[21] At the date of suspension only two rounds of matches had been played and the season was declared null and void.[22]

Controversy and Championship return (2021–) edit

In a controversy-filled 2021 RFL League 1 season, Barrow finished top of the table and were promoted back to the Championship.[23][24]

Controversy first hit on 29 July, when the club were accused of faking Covid-19 test results and close contacts to avoid a game with fellow promotion chasers Workington Town, after Barrow's squad was already severely depleted with injuries.[25] Further controversy hit on the final game of the season, when Barrow offered local amateur rugby players to West Wales Raiders in order for the game to be fulfilled. Barrow ultimately won the game 76–0, which led to many questioning the legitimacy of the game, and ultimately, Barrow's League 1 title.[26] In the 2022 RFL Championship season, Barrow surprised many by finishing 4th on the table and qualifying for the playoffs. The club were eliminated in the first week of the playoffs by Batley.[27]

Grounds edit

Previous grounds (1875–1931) edit

Barrow played their first match in 1875 at Cavendish Park on Barrow Island, the then home of Barrow Cricket Club. The park had two suitable playing areas and until 1883 the new club used the Parade Ground, but then moved to the Athletic Ground as it had a better playing surface for rugby. A first grandstand was built in 1887 for the princely sum of less than £50 to the landlords, The Furness Railway Company. Another grandstand on the opposite side was finished in 1893. On 28 March 1908 a crowd of 12,000 crammed into the ground for a Challenge Cup tie against Hunslet. In 1914 the club decided to move away to Little Park in nearby Roose. In 1920, the club bought Little Park from Lord Richard Cavendish for £3,000 and in the following years put up two grandstands in 1921 and 1924. A record crowd of 12,214 was recorded against Oldham RLFC in a Challenge Cup game on 17 March 1923. Cavendish Park and the Parade Ground is now home to a fire station while the Athletic Ground is still used as community playing fields. Little Park was developed for housing.

Craven Park (1931–present day) edit

View of Craven Park prior to removal of NE terrace roof

In 1928, the club's committee started to look for a site nearer to the town and found an area on Craven Park. After tipping more than 40,000 tons of fill onto the site previously a derelict Jute Works, reservoirs, railway tracks and mission hall the club moved their main stand from Little Park and built a new stand on Clive Street and officially moved in, in August 1931.

On 15 April 1938, the club's record attendance was established when 21,651 saw them play Salford. In February 1949, storms ripped the entire roof off the main stand and in the early 1950s concrete terracing replaced the old wooden railway sleepers. Floodlights were turned on in November 1966. The ground was renovated in 1991.[2]

In 2015, the roof was removed from the terrace adjacent to Willie Horne Way. This was followed in 2021 with the removal of the condemned Hindpool Road end roof, leaving only two areas of cover in the ground.[28] Plans were also unveiled for a marquee on the terrace next to the main stand.[29]

2023 squad edit

Barrow Raiders 2022 Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

  • Paul Crarey

Assistant coach

  • Steve Rae

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice-captain(s)

Updated: 14 December 2021
Source(s): 2022 Squad Numbers

2023 transfers edit


Player Club Contract length Date
  Anton Iaria Penrith Panthers 1 Year October 2021


Player Club Contract Length Date

Players edit

Hall of Fame edit

The Barrow club launched its Hall of Fame in 2001 with 1950s legends Willie Horne, Phil Jackson and Jimmy Lewthwaite its inaugural inductees.

Past coaches edit

Also see Category:Barrow Raiders coaches.

Seasons edit

Super League era edit

Season League Play-offs Challenge Cup Other competitions Name Tries Name Points
Division P W D L F A Pts Pos Top try scorer Top point scorer
1996 Division Two 22 5 0 17 354 651 10 10th R4
1997 Division Two 20 7 0 13 335 632 14 8th R4
1998 Division Two 20 8 2 10 354 377 18 6th R4
1999 Northern Ford Premiership 28 12 0 16 660 718 24 10th R4
2000 Northern Ford Premiership 28 14 0 14 647 711 28 10th R4
2001 Northern Ford Premiership 28 12 1 15 631 685 25 14th R4
2002 Northern Ford Premiership 27 12 1 14 707 670 25 13th R4
2003 National League Two 18 11 0 7 546 419 22 5th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R4
2004 National League Two 18 14 1 3 521 346 29 1st R3
2005 National League One 18 1 0 17 299 832 2 10th R5
2006 National League Two 22 12 0 10 599 481 24 6th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R5
2007 National League Two 22 17 0 5 769 387 55 3rd R5
2008 National League Two 22 16 0 6 703 375 52 2nd R5
2009 Championship 20 13 0 7 632 261 44 1st Won in Final R4 Championship Cup RU
2010 Championship 20 12 1 7 607 449 39 4th Lost in Semi Final QF
2011 Championship 20 9 0 11 527 540 0 11th R4
2012 Championship 1 18 14 0 4 617 383 45 2nd Lost in Final R4
2013 Championship 26 8 0 18 482 792 33 12th R4
2014 Championship 26 4 0 22 462 870 19 14th R4
2015 Championship 1 22 14 8 0 661 423 28 7th R4 League 1 Cup R2
2016 League 1 21 15 1 5 769 375 31 3rd Lost in Play-off Final R3 League 1 Cup R1
2017 League 1 22 18 1 3 731 381 37 2nd Won in Promotion Final QF League 1 Cup W
2018 Championship 23 5 3 15 382 816 13 10th R5
Championship Shield 30 8 3 19 491 1006 19 5th
2019 Championship 27 5 1 21 479 861 11 13th R4 1895 Cup QF
2020 League 1 League abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic R4
2021 League 1 17 13 1 3 596 275 27 1st N/A[a] R3[b] 1895 Cup R1
2022 Championship 27 18 1 8 757 587 37 4th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R6 1895 Cup SF
2023 Championship 27 8 1 18 471 672 17 11th R4

Honours edit

League edit

Winners (3): 1975–76, 1983–84, 2009
RFL Championship Leaders' Shield
Winners (1): 2009
Winners (2): 2004, 2021*

Cups edit

Winners (1): 1954–55
Winners (2): 1954, 1983
Winners (1): 2017

Club records edit

  • Most tries in a game: 7 by Tee Ritson against West Wales Raiders 12 September 2021
  • Most goals in a game: 17 by Darren Carter against Nottingham City 27 November 1994
  • Most points in a game: 42 by Darren Carter against Nottingham City 27 November 1994
  • Most tries in a season: 50 by Jimmy Lewthwaite in 1956–57
  • Most goals in a season: 135 by Joe Ball in 1956–57
  • Most points in a season: 323 by Jamie Rooney in 2010
  • Most tries in a career: 352 by Jimmy Lewthwaite
  • Most goals in a career: 1,036 by Darren Holt
  • Most points in a career: 2,403 by Darren Holt

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ League leaders do not compete in playoffs
  2. ^ Officially round 1 due to the competitions temporary restructure in 2021.

References edit

  1. ^ "Craven Park Ground | Barrow Raiders". 27 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Delaney, Trevor (1991). The Grounds Of Rugby League. Keighley: Trevor R. Delaney. ISBN 0-9509-9822-2.
  3. ^ a b c "Measuring Worth – Relative Value of UK Pounds". Measuring Worth. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  4. ^ Hadfield, Dave (20 December 1995). "Rugby's pounds 87m deal gives Murdoch transfer veto". The Independent. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  5. ^ "The Rugby Football League". 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Widnes regain Super League place". 31 March 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  7. ^ "RFL dock Barrow Raider points for salary cap breach". BBC Sport. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Barrow relegated by the RFL after points deduction". BBC Sport. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Chairman warns Barrow Raiders 'could go out of business'". BBC Sport. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Barrow Raiders: Paul Crarey replaces Goulding as head coach". BBC Sport. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  11. ^ "League One Cup final: Barrow Raiders 38 North Wales Crusaders 32 highlights". The Mail. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Barrow Raiders promoted after beating Whitehaven 10–6". The Mail. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Full-time whistle report as Barrow Raiders draw 8–8 with Toronto Wolfpack". The Mail. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  14. ^ "On the brink: Barrow Raiders chairman Sharpe issues call to help club's finances". The Mail. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  15. ^ "New Barrow Raiders chairman Neale hopes for bright future amid financial gloom". The Mail. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Raiders' relegation confirmed by heavy defeat at Toronto". The Mail. September 2019.
  17. ^ "Doncaster vs Barrow Raiders | Barrow Raiders". March 2020.
  18. ^ "Coronavirus: Rugby Football League suspends season until 3 April". BBC Sport. 16 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Rugby League to stand down staff and players". Rugby Leaguer & League Express. No. 3, 219. 30 March 2020. p. 3.
  20. ^ "Championship on the brink of closing for the season". Rugby Leaguer & League Express. No. 3, 226. 18 May 2020. p. 3.
  21. ^ "No relegation from Super League in 2020". BBC Sport. 20 July 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Championship and League One null and void". Serious About Rugby League. 20 July 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  23. ^ "Rugby League news LIVE: Greg Inglis joins new club, Adam Quinlan interest, Luke Briscoe signs".
  24. ^ "Barrow Raiders promoted to the Betfred Championship". Rugby League. 11 September 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  25. ^ "Workington Town vs Barrow Raiders postponed due to coronavirus -". 29 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Barrow Raiders on Facebook". Facebook. Archived from the original on 27 April 2022.[user-generated source]
  27. ^ "Barrow Raiders give Cumbria hope of a shock Super League return". 15 September 2022.
  28. ^ "Toilet acts as unexpected archive for Raiders' 75-year-old treasure". The Mail. 8 March 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  29. ^ "'Exciting times ahead' – Barrow Raiders reveal plans for permanent marquee at ground". The Mail. 3 March 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2021.

External links edit