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Knowsley Road in Eccleston, St Helens, Merseyside, was the home ground of St. Helens from 1890 until its closure in 2010. St Helens Town FC played their home fixtures at Knowsley Road from 2002 until 2010. For a period, the venue also hosted Liverpool F.C. Reserves. The stadium was demolished during spring 2011 and a new construction then known as Cunningham Grange, named after club legend Keiron Cunningham, was built on the site.[1]

Knowsley Road
KR
Knowsley Road St Helens.jpg
Full nameKnowsley Road
Former namesGPW Recruitment Stadium (2008–2010)
LocationSt. Helens, Merseyside
Coordinates53°27′6″N 2°45′52″W / 53.45167°N 2.76444°W / 53.45167; -2.76444Coordinates: 53°27′6″N 2°45′52″W / 53.45167°N 2.76444°W / 53.45167; -2.76444
OwnerSt Helens
OperatorSt Helens
Capacity17,500
Record attendance35,695 vs Wigan 26 December 1949
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke ground1890
Built1890
Opened1890
Renovated2006
Expanded1960
Closed2010
Demolished2011
Tenants
St. Helens (1890–2010)
St Helens Town FC (2002–2010)

Contents

StadiumEdit

 
Family Stand

Knowsley Road consisted of four stands of open terracing and one seated stand called the Family Stand.

Family StandEdit

The Family Stand was the only section of the stadium which had a seated area, although there were still areas for standing supporters. The players entered the field from a gateway under the stand and the dugout was also in the Family Stand. The Family Stand contained an area for the media such as local radio stations. It was built after the Second World War, funded by local businesses. The actual design of the stand means that it only ran for two-thirds of that side of the pitch.

When the Main Stand was built, it provided a new changing room facility and gymnasium for the players, replacing the smaller, outdated ones at the old Pavilion End of the ground, next to the scoreboard. Players would come out of the new tunnel before kick off to a centralised view of the stadium, facing the Popular Stand.

When the Main Stand was constructed, it created an overhang at the top of the stand. This was because the old Eccleston railway ran below the site of the new stand, linking the Triplex (Pilkington) factory to the town centre. The railway has long gone now, and was replaced by the club's car park.

Popular StandEdit

The Popular Stand was an all standing section of the ground and was the most popular stand for home supporters. The stand was built in the 1960s at a cost of over £30,000. It spread across the full length of the pitch. It held the Scaff – the gantry in which the press gathered. When St. Helens were on television, the Popular Stand regularly were heard singing and chanting due to the small distance between the cameras and the supporters.

Dunriding Lane EndEdit

The Dunriding Lane End was the only stand without a roof. It contained nine corporate boxes, as well as the stadium restaurant and the official store. Prior to being moved to the Family Stand, the changing rooms were at the Dunriding Lane End and players would enter from a tunnel.

The Dunriding Lane End of the ground was known as the Boys' Pen – a spot where die-hard fans congregated during the post-war years. During the 1970s, and 1980s, the club became aware of the need for corporate facilities in line with other clubs and the decision was made to build a bar, restaurant and executive boxes for the fans, and to give them a new and luxurious match day experience.

Eddington EndEdit

The Eddington End was a typical Kop. It was the second biggest stand overall at the ground, and the tallest, with the best views of the pitch. In the 1960s, a roof was placed on the Eddington End of the ground. The Eddington End is generally an away end, where most away fans congregated on match days. It became a haunt for local derby chanting with fans of arch rivals Wigan.

HistoryEdit

St. Helens moved to Knowsley Road in 1890, defeating Manchester Rangers in their first match. The stadium pre-dated the birth of the Northern Rugby Football Union (which would later become rugby league) by five years. Having been formed in 1873, St. Helens were a rugby union club when they moved into Knowsley Road. The stadium changed in appearance very little in its 120 years.

Lord Derby open the new pavilion on 26 December 1920 at a match against Wigan. A ground record of 35,695 fans turned up to watch Saints play Wigan on Boxing Day 1949. In January 1950, the training pitch was laid down. In February 1951, the newly completed Eccleston Kop covered enclosure was opened and was named after Supporters' Club Secretary George Eddington. In August 1958, the club's new grandstand was opened by Sir Harry Pilkington. The structure cost £32,000 and could seat 2,400.

In September 1961, new metal goal posts replaced the wooden originals after storm damage. The new popular side enclosure was erected in 1962. The old wooden structure that it replaced was given to Liverpool City for their ground at Knotty Ash. Saints' new floodlighting system opened by Sir Harry Pilkington on 27 January 1965. The bar and restaurant complex was opened at Dunriding Lane End of the Knowsley Road stadium in 1973.

Players' dug outs were moved from the Main Stand to the Popular Side in 1983. In September 1989, work started on nine executive boxes and an electronic scoreboard at the Dunriding Lane End.

In 2006, Knowsley Road was renovated slightly. On the club's new sponsorship deal with Earth Money, the stadium got new signs, new dug outs were installed, as were the toilet facilities which had been long complained about by supporters.

In 2006, Knowsley Road was approved as an international Test venue after safety and capacity improvements. It subsequently hosted an international test fixture in 2006 between Great Britain and New Zealand, which Great Britain won.

In June 2007, club chairman Eamonn McManus announced plans for a new 18,000 capacity stadium, with a Tesco store and plaza with 2,000 car parking spaces for the 2011 Super League Season. These plans were approved by local councillors in May 2008.[2] Plans were put on hold and building work did not start on time. Knowsley Road was closed at the end of the 2010 Super League Season and St Helens played their home games at Widnes' Stobart Stadium for the 2011 Super League Season.

The last first team match at Knowsley Road was the St. Helens vs Huddersfield game, a play-off semi-final on 24 September 2010. St. Helens won 42–22, the final try on the ground being scored by retiring club captain Keiron Cunningham.

Stadium recordsEdit

game Date Teams Attendance Notes
1 26 December 1949   St Helens vs   Wigan 35,695 Knowsley Road attendance record
2 26 August 1996   St Helens vs   Warrington 18,098 Super League attendance record
3 10 April 1957   Great Britain vs   France 23,250 Test match attendance record
4 10 October 1959   St Helens vs   Australia 29,156 Tour match attendance record

Rugby League Test matchesEdit

List of rugby league test matches played at Knowsley Road.[3]

Test No. Date Result Attendance Notes
1 14 February 1914   England def.   Wales 16–12 10,000
2 25 February 1939   France def.   England 12–9 10,000 1938–39 European Rugby League Championship
3 10 April 1957   Great Britain def.   France 29–14 23,250
4 28 January 1961   Great Britain def.   France 27–8 14,804
5 30 November 1969   Great Britain def.   France 34–10 6,080
6 17 March 1971   Great Britain def.   France 24–2 7,783
7 28 May 1978   England def.   Wales 60–13 9,759 1978 European Rugby League Championship
8 13 October 1995   New Zealand def.   Papua New Guinea 22–6 8,679 1995 Rugby League World Cup Group B
9 1 November 2000   England def.   Russia 76–4 5,736 2000 Rugby League World Cup Group 1
10 28 June 2006   Great Britain def   New Zealand 46–14 10,103 2006 Baskerville Shield

Rugby League Tour MatchesEdit

Other than St Helens club games, Knowsley Road also saw St Helens, a combined St HelensSt Helens Recs XIII, the county team Lancashire and an English League XIII play host to international touring teams from Australia (sometimes playing as Australasia), New Zealand and France from 1907–2002.

Game Date Result Attendance Notes
1 30 October 1907   New Zealand def.   St Helens 24–5 1907–08 All Golds tour
2 22 February 1908   New Zealand def.   St Helens 21–10
3 9 February 1909   St Helens def.   Australia 9–0 1,500 1908–09 Kangaroo Tour
4 14 October 1911   Australasia def.   St Helens 16–5 12,000 1911–12 Kangaroo Tour
5 23 November 1921   Australasia def.   St Helens 16–8 6,000 1921–22 Kangaroo Tour
6 16 November 1929   St Helens drew with   Australasia 18–18 9,500 1929–30 Kangaroo Tour
7 2 December 1933   Australia def.   St Helens 20–11 5,735 1933–34 Kangaroo Tour
8 2 December 1937   Australia def.   St Helens / St Helens Recs XIII 15–7 2,000 1937–38 Kangaroo Tour
9 2 September 1939   New Zealand def.   St Helens 19–3 4,000 1939 New Zealand Kiwis tour
10 14 October 1948   St Helens def.   Australia 10–8 20,175 1948–49 Kangaroo Tour
11 27 September 1952   St Helens def.   Australia 26–8 17,205 1952–53 Kangaroo Tour
12 24 November 1956   St Helens def.   Australia 44–2 15,579 1956–57 Kangaroo Tour
13 23 September 1959   Lancashire def.   Australia 30–22 15,743 1959–60 Kangaroo Tour
14 10 October 1959   Australia def.   St Helens 15–2 29,156
15 22 November 1959   France def.   Rugby League XIII 26–8 16,000 Friendly
16 12 October 1960   St Helens def.   Australia 15–12 12,250 Australian pre-tournament game to the 1960 Rugby League World Cup
17 28 September 1963   Australia def.   St Helens 8–2 21,284 1963–64 Kangaroo Tour
18 24 October 1967   St Helens def.   Australia 8–4 17,275 1967–68 Kangaroo Tour
19 9 November 1970   St Helens def.   Australia 37–10 15,570 Australian pre-tournament game to the 1970 Rugby League World Cup
20 15 November 1972   Australia def.   St Helens 24–9 10,000 Australian pre-tournament game to the 1972 Rugby League World Cup
21 13 November 1973   St Helens def.   Australia 11–7 10,013 1973 Kangaroo Tour
22 12 October 1975   Australia def.   St Helens 32–7 10,170 Australian pre-tournament game to the 1975 Rugby League World Cup
23 12 November 1978   Australia def.   St Helens 26–6 16,352 1978 Kangaroo Tour
24 12 October 1980   St Helens def.   New Zealand 11–6 6,000 1980 New Zealand Kiwis tour
25 17 October 1982   Australia def.   St Helens 32–0 8,190 1982 Kangaroo Tour
26 2 November 1986   Australia def.   St Helens 32–8 15,381 1986 Kangaroo Tour
27 7 October 1990   Australia def.   St Helens 34–4 15,219 1990 Kangaroo Tour
28 1 November 1994   Australia def.   St Helens 32–14 13,911 1994 Kangaroo Tour
29 25 October 2002   New Zealand def.   St Helens 38–26 2002 New Zealand Kiwis tour

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Taylor Wimpey – Cunnigham Grange, St Helens, URL accessed 17 May 2013 Archived 19 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Saints stadium plans win backing". BBC News. 21 May 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  3. ^ Knowsley Road @ Rugby League Project

External linksEdit