The club played semi-professional rugby league for a total of 8 seasons in all. They first became members of the Northern Rugby Football Union (now Rugby Football League) for three continuous seasons from 1896–97 to 1898–99.
They left the league and returned two seasons later, playing another four seasons from 1901–02 to 1905–06. At the end of season 1905–06 the club left the league, at which point Jack Bartholomew (the uncle of the comedian Eric Morecambe) left the club and joined Huddersfield, he would later play for Great Britain, and Bradford Northern.
Morecambe FC was formed as a rugby football club in 1876. They joined the ranks of the semi-professionals when they became members of the Northern Union in its second season 1896–97 and played for three season in the Lancashire Senior Competition. In each of these three seasons, the club managed only to finish with the wooden spoon, at the bottom of the league, 14th out of 14 clubs.
At the end of this third season, 1898–99, Morecambe left the ranks of the (semi) professionals and were replaced by Millom. For the next two seasons it is thought that Morecambe played in the local amateur non-leagues as at the end of the 1900–01 season Morecambe lost to Widnes in the second qualifier play-off. (Widnes had finished bottom of the Lancashire Senior Competition and lost the first play-off match to St Helens who had finished second bottom).
Morecambe returned for the start of the 1901–02 and finished in 11th place out of 13 clubs. At the end of the 1901–02 season, the County Leagues elected 18 teams to join the new Division 2 (7 from Lancashire and 10 from Yorkshire and new member South Shields) with the existing second competition scrapped.
In 1902–03 Morecambe, being one of the fortunate clubs, joined the new 2nd Division, where they would stay for the next three seasons. In the first season in the new second division (1902–03) they finished 17th out of 18 clubs. Similarly, in the following two seasons the club could only manage to finish second bottom in each season.
In 1905–06 the Rugby League combined the divisions to form one united league. In this, Morecambe’s final season in the semi-professional ranks, they again finished second bottom, 30th out of 31 clubs. Morecambe dropped out of the league after the end of the season. In none of the eight league seasons did Morecambe manage to score more than 100 points.
In 1904, Morecambe and Lancaster, very close neighbours, were drawn against each other in the first round of the Rugby League Challenge Cup. 100 years later the two clubs Morecambe (being represented by Heysham Atoms ARLFC) and Lancaster agreed to play a centenary commemorative match, the winner would be presented with the “Morecambe Bay State of Origin Trophy”. And so on Tuesday 11th May 2004, at Lancaster City AFC’s Giant Axe Stadium, Morecambe (playing in the traditional black and white hoops) beat Lancaster (in Red and white hoops) 24-15.
Club league record
The league positions for Morecambe for the 8 years in which they played semi-professional rugby league are given in the following table:
|Season||Competition||Pos||Team Name||Pl||W||D||L||PW||PA||Diff||Pts||% Pts||No of teams in league||Notes||Ref|
|1896–97||Lancs Sen Comp||14||Morecambe||26||3||0||23||52||238||-186||6||14|
|1897–98||Lancs Sen Comp||14||Morecambe||26||4||2||20||74||285||-211||10||14|
|1898–99||Lancs Sen Comp||14||Morecambe||26||2||1||23||47||281||-234||5||14|
|Morecambe resigned and were replaced by Millom.|
|1899–00||Morcambe not in professional leagues.|
|1900–01||Morcambe not in professional leagues.|
|Morecambe rejoined for start of season 1901–02.|
|1901–02||Lancs Sen Comp||11||Morecambe||11||13|||
|Only limited County League information is available for this season.|
RL = Single Division; Pl = Games Played: W = Win; D = Draw; L = Lose; PF = Points For; PA = Points Against; Diff = Points Difference (+ or -); Pts = League Points
% Pts = A percentage system was used to determine league positions due to clubs playing varying number of fixtures and against different opponents
League points: for win = 2; for draw = 1; for loss = 0.
Several fixtures & results
|1896–97||Sat 05–09-1896||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Moss Ln||H||Lost||3-6||1,5|||
|1896–97||12–09-1896||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Moss Ln||H||Won||5–0||2|||
|1896–97||03-10-1896||Lancs Sen Comp||Warrington||Wilderspool Stadium||A||Lost||0-3|||
|1896–97||Sat 10-10-1896||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Moss Ln||H||Lost||5-8|||
|1896–97||14-11-1896||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Lowerhouse Lane||A||Lost||0-4|||
|1896–97||Sat 09–01-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Lost||0-3|||
|1896–97||Sat 02–02-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Folly Fields||A||Lost||0-6|||
|1896–97||06–02-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||Warrington||Moss Ln||H||Lost||7-14|||
|1897–98||Sat 25–09-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Moss Ln||H||Won||8-2||1|||
|1897–98||16-10-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||Warrington||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-13|||
|1897–98||23-10-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Lowerhouse Lane||A||Lost||3-30|||
|1897–98||Sat 27-11-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Folly Fields||A||Lost||3-13|||
|1897–98||Sat 18-12-1897||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Moss Ln||H||Lost||2-3|||
|1897–98||08–01-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Warrington||Wilderspool Stadium||A||Lost||2-10|||
|1897–98||26–02-1898||CC R1||Hull||The Boulevard||A||Lost||0-8|||
|1897–98||11–04-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Moss Ln||H||Lost||3-5||2|||
|1897–98||Sat 16–04-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Draw||5-5|||
|1898–99||17–09-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-8||2|||
|1898–99||Sat 24–09-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-8|||
|1898–99||Sat 01-10-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-10||1|||
|1898–99||08-10-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Warrington||Wilderspool Stadium||A||Lost||0-12|||
|1898–99||26-11-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Warrington||Moss Ln||H||Lost||2-7|||
|1898–99||17-12-1898||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Lowerhouse Lane||A||Lost||2-10|||
|1898–99||Sat 18–02-1899||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Folly Fields||A||Lost||0-3|||
|1898–99||Sat 25–03-1899||CC R2||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Draw||0–0|||
|1898–99||Wed 29–03-1899||CC R2 Replay||St Helens||Moss Ln||H||Draw||5-5|||
|1898–99||Fri 31–03-1899||CC R2 2nd Replay||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Lost||5-17|||
|1898–99||8 –04-1899||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Lost||2-7|||
|1900–01||20–04-1901||League Play-Off Q2||Widnes||Neutral||Lost||0-7|||
|1901–02||Sat 14–09-1901||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Springfield Park||A||Lost||0-12||4000|||
|1901–02||05-10-1901||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-7||2|||
|1901–02||Sat 09-11-1901||Lancs Sen Comp||Wigan||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-17||3|||
|1902–03||Sat 01–03-1902||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Lost||2-3|||
|1901–02||17–04-1902||Lancs Sen Comp||Widnes||Lowerhouse Lane||A||Lost||0-15|||
|1902–03||Wed 23–04-1902||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Moss Ln||H||Lost||9-10|||
|1903–04||-2–01-1903||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Moss Ln]||H||Draw||2-2|||
|1903–04||Sat 20–02-1904||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Lost||0-8|||
|1903–04||Sat 12–03-1904||CC R1||Lancaster||Quay Meadows||A||Draw||0–0||4.|||
|1903–04||Wed 16–03-1904||CC R1 Replay||Lancaster||Moss Ln||H||Lost||4-13||4.|||
|1904–05||04–03-1905||CC R1||Warrington||Wilderspool Stadium||A||Lost||0-30|||
|1904–05||Sat 09–09-1905||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Knowsley Road||A||Lost||6-26|||
|1905–06||14-10-1905||LC R1||Widnes||Moss Ln||H||Lost||0-5||2|||
|1904–05||Sat 30-12-1905||Lancs Sen Comp||St Helens||Moss Ln||H||Lost||3-10|||
Notes and Comments
- 1 - Folly Fields is the stadium used by Wigan at the time until 1901. They then became sub-tenants of Springfield Park See below - Note 3.
- 2 - Lowerhouse Lane is the original site of the current ground used by Widnes. It was renamed Naughton Park in 1932 in honour of club secretary, Tom Naughton - and later renamed Halton Stadium after being completely rebuilt in 1997.
- 3 - Wigan became sub-tenants of Springfield Park, which they shared with Wigan United AFC, playing their first game there on 14 September 1901 at which a crowd of 4,000 saw them beat Morecambe 12–0, and the last game on 28 April 1902 when Wigan beat the Rest of Lancashire Senior Competition. A temporary ground was necessary to span the period between moving from Folly Fields and the new ground at Central Park being constructed.
- 4 - The original "Origin" game took place during the 1903/4 Rugby League Challenge Cup competition, where the two local teams played out an unusual 0–0 draw at Quay Meadow, only to be followed in the replay by a Lancaster win of 13 points to 4 at Moss Lane in Morecambe, approximately where Morrisons supermarket now stands. Lancaster progressed to the second round of the Cup, where they were defeated 8 points to nil by Keighley at Quay Meadow.
- 5 - A comment sent in by a follow contributor stated that news reports at the time told that after the 1896 game against Wigan a number of the Wigan team were arrested (and jailed) for assaulting a stationmaster at Morecambe station when they got drunk and missed their train home. There appears to be no Corroboration of this story)
- "Jack Bartholomew at huddersfieldrlheritage.co.uk". huddersfieldrlheritage.co.uk. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "Widnes Seasons in Review".
- J C Lindley with personal recollections by D W Armitage (1973). 100 Years of Rugby - The History of Wakefield Trinity Football Club. The Wakefield Trinity Centenary Committee. pp. 37 and 38.
- "Heysham Atoms ARLFC".
- "Preview of centenary match".
- Jack Winstanley & Malcolm Ryding (1975). John Player Rugby League Yearbook 1975-76. Queen Anne Press.
- 324 "Cherry and White".
- "Hull&Proud Fixtures & Results".
- "Warrington Wolves results and archives".
- "Saints Heritage Society".