History books opened on world’s oldest rugby club

Liverpool St Helens president Ray French
Liverpool St Helens president Ray French
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The world’s oldest rugby union club - Liverpool St Helens FC - is staging an exhibition detailing its long and glorious history.

Made possible by a £75,700 grant, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), ‘The Birth of Club Rugby’ project focuses on telling the story of the formation, development, trials, tribulations and triumphs of Liverpool St Helens FC during its history which traces back over 160 years when Liverpool Football Club was formed.

Working in partnership with St Helens and Liverpool Libraries, St Helens College, Edge Hill University, the Liverpool Record Office and Cowley International College, the club has established a comprehensive archive, cataloguing and preserving documents and photographs, and has created a touring exhibition which will be displayed in several of the borough’s libraries from now until May.

In addition to this, a learning resource pack has also been created for primary school pupils.

The Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens Councillor Joe Pearson and wife Sylvia Pearson joined club representatives, including current Liverpool St Helens Club President, Ray French MBE, for the official launch at Parr Library.

Commenting on the exhibition, former England rugby union and league international, Ray – who after his playing days enjoyed a successful career as a rugby league commentator for the BBC - said: “The history of the Liverpool and St Helens clubs is full of rich stories, all now saved for posterity in our archive. The exhibition brings to life this history and we are now pleased to make it available for the people of St Helens and Liverpool. “

Showing her support, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Services and Libraries, Councillor Sue Murphy, said: “Rugby is a massive part of the borough’s heritage so I’m delighted that such an interesting exhibition like this will be on display in a number of our libraries for the public to view.

“The Birth of Club Rugby exhibition promises to be an intriguing experience for any rugby enthusiast and I would encourage anyone who may be interested to pay it a visit while it’s around.”

The Birth of Club Rugby exhibition will be on display in the following St Helens libraries on the dates listed below:

Rainford Library until March 16

Chester Lane Library: March 19 to April 6

Newton-le-Willows Library: April 9 to April 27

Eccleston Library: April 30 to May 25