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The Barrow Raiders are a semi-professional rugby league team in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. The club was formed in 1875 as Barrow Football Club. For the 1995-96 and 1996 seasons the club was known as Barrow Braves, becoming the Barrow Border Raiders for the 1997 season following a merger with Carlisle Border Raiders, dropping the Border part of the name in 2002 to become the Barrow Raiders.

Barrow Raiders
Barrow Raiders logo.png
Club information
Full nameBarrow Rugby League Football Club Ltd
Nickname(s)The Raiders
Current details
ChairmanSteve Neale
CoachPaul Crarey
CompetitionRFL Championship
2018 RFL Championship10th
Home jersey
Home colours
Away jersey
Away colours
Rugby football current event.png Current season
Challenge Cups'1 (1954–55)
Lancashire County Cup2 (1954–55, 1982-83)
Second Division2 (1975–76, 2009)
National League Two1 (2004)
League 1 Cup1 (2017)
Highest points scorer' - Darren Holt 2,403
A Barrow side met the 1921 Kangaroos in a tour match.

Barrow Raiders compete in Betfred Championship, the second tier of European rugby league (behind the Super League) after being promoted from the Betfred League 1 in 2017.



Early yearsEdit

Willie Horne started his career at Barrow.

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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1]

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 ParkEdit

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).[2]

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 WarEdit

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).[2]

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).[2]

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 eraEdit

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.[3] 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.[1] 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 a better position with struggling 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.[4] 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 1Edit

Barrow's application to join the then franchised Super League, after there Champsionship Grand Final win in 2009, was rejected early in the 2011 season as it was deemed the club did not the meet minimum requirements.[5]

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 ChargesEdit

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.[6] At a tribunal in October 2011, claims that the club "systematically breached" the following three rules were upheld.[7]

  • 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[8] and 29 points were deducted for the 2011 season, relegating them to the Co-operative Championship 1.


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 2005-2007.[9]

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[10] 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.[11]

Return to Championship (2018 - Present Day)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.[12] 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.[8][13] Steve Neale replaced Sharpe as chairman stating that there was a "bright future for the club" after raising short term funds.[14] Barrow finished their inaugural Championship season in 10th place avoiding risk of relegation.


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 stationm 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.[1]

In 2015, the roof was removed from the terrace adjacent to Willie Horne Way.

Past coachesEdit

2019 squadEdit

* Announced on 13 January 2019:

Barrow Raiders 2019 Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

  • Paul Crarey

Assistant coach

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

Updated: 13 January 2019
Source(s): 2019 Squad Numbers

2019 transfersEdit


Player Club Contract length Date
  Stargroth Amean[15] PNG Hunters 1 Year October 2018
  Wartovo Puara[15] PNG Hunters 1 Year October 2018
  Gareth Hock Featherstone Rovers 1 year October 2018
  Willie Minoga[16] PNG Hunters 1 year November 2018
  Dean Cross Rochdale Hornets 1 year November 2018
  Tee Ritson Newcastle Thunder N/A October 2018
  Josh Johnson Hull Kingston Rovers 1 year January 2019
  Ben White Halifax until end of season June 2019


Player Club Contract Length Date
  Joe Bullock Wigan Warriors 3 Years October 2018
  Dean Parata Toulouse Olympique N/A October 2018
  Ryan Fieldhouse Workington Town 2 years November 2018
  Andy Litherland Workington Town 1 year December 2018

Hall of FameEdit

The Barrow club launched its Hall of Fame in 2001 with 1950s legends Willie Horne, Phil Jackson and Jimmy Lewthwaite its inaugural inductees. Information on other former players can be found in the List of Barrow Raiders players article.


Club recordsEdit

  • Most tries in a game: 6 by Val Cumberbatch against Batley 21 November 1936, Jim Thornburrow against Maryport 19 February 1938, and Steve Rowan against Nottingham City 15 November 1992
  • 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


  1. ^ a b c d Delaney, Trevor (1991). The Grounds Of Rugby League. Keighley: Trevor R. Delaney. ISBN 0-9509-9822-2.
  2. ^ a b c "Measuring Worth – Relative Value of UK Pounds". Measuring Worth. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  3. ^ Dave Hadfield (20 December 1995). "Rugby's pounds 87m deal gives Murdoch transfer veto". The Independent. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  4. ^ "The Rugby Football League". 24 February 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Widnes regain Super League place". 31 March 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  6. ^ "RFL dock Barrow Raider points for salary cap breach". BBC Sport. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Barrow relegated by the RFL after points deduction". BBC Sport. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Chairman warns Barrow Raiders 'could go out of business'". BBC Sport. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Barrow Raiders: Paul Crarey replaces Goulding as head coach". BBC Sport. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  10. ^ "League One Cup final: Barrow Raiders 38 North Wales Crusaders 32 highlights". The Mail. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Barrow Raiders promoted after beating Whitehaven 10-6". The Mail. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Full-time whistle report as Barrow Raiders draw 8-8 with Toronto Wolfpack". The Mail. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  13. ^ "On the brink: Barrow Raiders chairman Sharpe issues call to help club's finances". The Mail. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  14. ^ "New Barrow Raiders chairman Neale hopes for bright future amid financial gloom". The Mail. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Amean, Puara to play in UK". loop png. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  16. ^

External linksEdit