KNOWSLEY Road was looked on as a fortress by Saints players and their fans - a ground where more often than not visiting teams left empty-handed.
A cauldron of noise with home supporters virtually breathing down the necks of the players on the tightly-packed terraces, it was often worth a try or two start for the home side and some times the difference between winning and losing.
Now new join skipper Paul Wellens - the longest serving member of the current first team squad - is urging the fans to create the same kind of spine-tingling atmosphere during the club’s 12-month stay at Widnes’ Stobart Stadium.
Full back Wellens - raised almost within a stone’s throw of the club’s old stadium - said: “I am sure our supporters will get behind us, just like they did at Knowsley Road, and create a unique atmosphere of their own on match days.
“We have a fantastic fan base and while it will be a little inconvenient travelling to Widnes, I would urge them to roll up in their thousands and cheer us on to further success.”
Wigan will be the bookies’ favourites to retain their title but don’t discount Saints and other clubs, such as Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, the two Hull clubs and Huddersfield having a big say in the destiny of the championship.
Wellens said: “Gone are the days when you could look at the fixtures and say ‘we will pick up to two points here and two points there.
“The competition now boast a lot of good sides - all of whom will be difficult to beat - but we have simply to concentrate on our own game and hopefully the rest will fall into place.”
Since toppling Hull 26-4 in the 2006 Old Trafford Grand Final, Saints have fallen four times at the final hurdle but the St Helens-born full back insisted they can shred their bridesmaid tag in 2011.
“I know I have been saying the same thing for the past four years but I honest believe we can go one better this year.
“We have recruited well and already new boys Michael Shenton, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbroook and Josh Perry are fitting in well.
“They have helped freshened us up with their enthusiasm and it already feels like they they have been part of our squad for a few years.
“Hopefully once they fully adapt to our pattern of play and style etc we will gel pretty quick and lead to some positive early season performances.”
New coach Royce Simmons raised a few eyebrows when he heavily criticised his side’s defence display despite a 52-20 demolition of Widnes Vikings in the Karalius Cup – but Wellens welcomed the straight-talking.
“He’s the type of person who calls a spade a spade but I think players in any sport appreciate this kind of approach.
“You don’t want any pussy-footing around – it’s best to be told where you are going wrong and how you can improve.”
He added: “Our defensive performance against Widnes was nowhere near the standard required to compete consistently at the highest level in Super League.
“It is an area where we can improve if we work hard but I am confident with a little extra effort we can tighten things up before this week-end’s opening fixture against Wigan Warriors at the Millennium Stadium.”