Blackpool Borough

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Blackpool Borough
Club information
ColoursTangerine, black and white
Foundedunknown (reformed 1982; 39 years ago (1982))
Exited1997; 24 years ago (1997)
Former details

Blackpool Borough was a rugby league club based in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, that played in the Rugby Football League from 1954 until 1993. The club moved to Wigan in 1987 and was renamed Springfield Borough; to Chorley in 1988 and was renamed Chorley Borough; to Altrincham in 1989 and was renamed Trafford Borough, and finally back to Blackpool in 1992 as Blackpool Gladiators. It folded in 1997.

The team wore tangerine, black and white jerseys.


Blackpool Borough[edit]

A Blackpool club were members of the Northern Union Lancashire Second Competition in 1898–99. The first unsuccessful application for a Blackpool team to join the Rugby League was made in December 1950. Blackpool Borough were accepted into the Rugby League for the 1954–55 season. In their early days, they were known as "the Babes". The first ever victory was over Hull Kingston Rovers at Blackpool.

Borough played at Blackpool Greyhound Stadium in St Anne's Road but larger fixtures were played at Blackpool FC's Bloomfield Road Stadium. Their record attendance was 12,015 on 10 September 1955 when they drew with the New Zealand tourists 24–24 at Bloomfield Road. The record attendance was set in 1957 at 22,000 for the third round Challenge Cup match against Leigh.

In the first eight years of their existence, they had never finished above 21st. Blackpool Greyhound Stadium was sold for housing and in April 1962. Blackpool Borough Council granted a 21-year lease on a new ground – Borough Park – on the former gas works and coach park site at Rigby Road and Princess Street. The first match at Borough Park was played on Saturday 31 August 1963 when Blackpool beat Salford 36–16. The record defeat came on 26 October 1963 when Wigan won 77 points to 8.

Rugby League Hall of Fame member Brian Bevan played for Blackpool Borough between 1962 and 1964 having retired from playing for Warrington. In Bevan's first year Blackpool finished fourth in the Second Division. Fellow winger and Hall of Fame member Billy Boston also ended his career at Blackpool between 1969–71. Former Australian Representative Tim Pickup began his professional career with Blackpool, on loan from St. Helens. He was player of the year at Fullback for both the 1970 & 71 seasons. Pickup returned home and played for Australia as Five-eighth/Stand-off from 1972-75, returning to England as part of the 1973 Kangaroo Tour and was a member of Australia's victorious 1975 World Cup Squad.

In 1978–79, Blackpool, coached by Albert Fearnley, won promotion to the First Division for the only time by finishing fourth in the Second Division. However the next season, they finished bottom and were relegated back to the Second Division.

In April 1982, Borough were put into liquidation less than nine months after being taken over by a Cardiff businessman. A new company, Savoy Sports and Leisure Ltd, then bought the club and a new Blackpool Borough RLFC was formed on 4 August 1982 and accepted into the Rugby League for the new season. The club was ordered to carry out safety measures on the ground by Lancashire County Council by 1 February 1987 or quit the ground. Blackpool failed to get a safety grant aid of £65,000 from Blackpool Borough Council and were forced to leave. The final game at Borough Park being on 4 January 1987 when a crowd of 386 saw the club lose 8–5 to Whitehaven. Their final six home games were played at Bloomfield Road.

Springfield Borough[edit]

Wigan athletic badge.png

Another consortium took over the club in April 1987 on condition that Borough left Blackpool. Their first new home was Springfield Park, the then home of Wigan Athletic. Wigan RLFC were rumoured to have objected to the proposed 'Wigan Borough' name and so 'Springfield Borough' was adopted. Springfield Borough's club colours were dark blue, tangerine and white. The club logo was the same as the crest used by Wigan Athletic F.C. at the time.

Springfield Borough beat Sheffield Eagles 11–10 in the final rugby league match at Springfield Park. Despite good performances on the field the move was not successful; the pitch was suffering from overuse and in January 1988 Wigan Athletic gave Borough six months to quit.

Chorley Borough[edit]


The club relocated to Victory Park in Chorley and played as Chorley Borough in the 1988–89 season. The club's colours initially consisted of black and white hooped jerseys, which changed later to a primarily black jersey with irregular white bands around the waist and on the sleeves. The club ended up finishing sixteenth out of twenty teams in the Second Division.

The name Chorley Borough was later used between 1989 and 1995 by a different club.

Trafford Borough[edit]


Borough then became Trafford Borough when they moved to Moss Lane, Altrincham (sharing with Altrincham F.C.) for the 1989–90 season. This, however, caused a boardroom split leading to five Blackpool-based directors resigning to form a new club initially based in Chorley.

Trafford Borough adopted the local Trafford crest also used by Trafford F.C., depicting a rampant griffin, and their club colours consisted of royal blue and red jerseys, blue shorts and white socks.

Their tenure at Altrincham was generally unsuccessful, with most home crowds averaging around the 200 mark. It was also during this period that the club achieved their highest defeat, being beat by St. Helens 104–12 on 15 September 1991.

Trafford Borough survived three seasons before returning to Blackpool as Blackpool Gladiators.

Blackpool Gladiators[edit]

Blackpool Gladiators moved to Blackpool Mechanics FC ground in September 1992. In October 1992, the chairman Alan Sherrat put the club up for sale for £50,000. Once back in Blackpool the club colours were tangerine, purple and white jerseys, black shorts and socks.

Rugby Football League chief executive Maurice Lindsay wanted to reduce the number of clubs in the lower division of the league in 1993. The three clubs finishing bottom of the Second Division would be demoted to the National Conference League. The season was a disaster which culminated in their final home game when they were beaten 90–5 by Dewsbury. Blackpool along with the other two expelled clubs, pursued legal action against the RFL decision, but to no avail. Their last game as a professional club was on 11 April 1993 when they lost again to Dewsbury 56–0.

In November 1994, the club were on the receiving end of both a world record score and world record losing margin when they lost 4-142 to Huddersfield Giants, this record stood for almost 24 years until April 2018 when York City Knights defeated West Wales Raiders by 144-0.

The following year, the club was relegated from the National Conference League Premier Division and left to join the Alliance reserve grade. After the 1997 Alliance season Blackpool Gladiators folded.

Players earning international caps while at Blackpool Borough[edit]

  • Lionel Emmitt won a cap for Wales while at Blackpool Borough in 1959 against France.
  • Graeme Johns won caps for Wales while at Salford in 1979 against France (sub), and while at Blackpool Borough in 1984 against England (sub)
  • Donald "Don" Parry won caps for Wales while at Blackpool Borough in 1980 against France, and England, in 1981 against France, and England (2 matches), and in 1982 against Australia. 6-caps 1-try 3-points Hooker.
  • Peter Rowe won caps for Wales while at Wigan, Blackpool Borough, and Huddersfield 1969…1979 7-caps + 3-caps (sub), including while at Blackpool Borough in the 1975 Rugby League World Cup against Australia, England, and Australia.
  • Hugh Waddell won caps for England while at Blackpool Borough in 1984 against Wales, won caps for Scotland, and won caps for Great Britain while at Oldham in 1988 against France (2 matches), Australia, and New Zealand, and while at Leeds in 1989 against France.

Other players[edit]

See also[edit]

List of defunct rugby league clubs

Blackpool Panthers


External links[edit]


  • Lawrenson, Dave (2007). The Rugby League Miscellany. p. 123: Vision Sports Publishing. ISBN 978-1-905326-30-3.CS1 maint: location (link)
  • Gate, Robert (1991). The Guinness Rugby League Fact Book. p. 43: Guinness Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-85112-949-8.CS1 maint: location (link)