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Barrow Raiders

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Title: Barrow Raiders  
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Subject: League 1 (rugby league), Swinton Lions, Challenge Cup, Jim Challinor, 1979–80 Northern Rugby Football League season
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Barrow Raiders

Barrow Raiders
Club information
Full name Barrow Rugby Football Club Ltd
Nickname(s) The Raiders
Short name Barrow
Founded 1875
Current details
  • 1931–
    Craven Park
  • 1914–1931
    Little Park
  • 1883–1914
    Cavendish Park
Coach(s) Paul Crarey
Competition Kingstone Press League 1 (from 2015)
2014 RFL Championship 14th
Challenge Cups 1 (1954–55)
Lancashire Cup 2 (1954–55, 1983–84)
Second Division 2 (1975–76, 2009)
National League Two 1 (2004)
A Barrow side met the 1921 Kangaroos in a tour match.

Barrow Raiders are an English professional rugby league team from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, who are coached by Paul Crarey. Formed in 1875 as Barrow Football Club, the club is the oldest of the current professional sports teams in Cumbria. For the 1995-96 and 1996 seasons the club was known as Barrow Braves, adopting its current name for the 1997 season following a merger with Carlisle Border Raiders.

From 2015, Barrow Raiders will compete in the re-structured Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of European rugby league (behind the Super League and Kingstone Press Championship). They were promoted from Championship One at the end of the 2012 season after being relegated the previous year.[1] They had previously won the second tier Co-operative Championship in 2009, and finished fourth in 2010.


  • History 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Post World War Two 1.2
    • Summer era 1.3
  • Past coaches 2
  • 2015 squad 3
  • 2016 transfers 4
  • Hall of Fame 5
  • Club honours 6
  • Club records 7
  • External links 8
  • References 9


Early years

Willie Horne is believed to be the greatest rugby player of all time started his career at Barrow.

Barrow Football Club were formed in 1875 and played their first home game on 4 December of that year against Royal Grammar School, Lancaster at Cavendish Park on Barrow Island, then home to the town's cricket club.[2] It is thought that Tom H. Baynes, a shipping clerk, was the driving force behind the club's foundation. As well as being a player, he was probably also the first Barrow team coach. Early practice matches games were played in "a field loaned by a local farmer" as well as the Parade Ground and the aforementioned Cavendish Park.

At the 1883 annual general meeting, Cavendish Park got the vote over the Parade Ground as a permanent home on account of its better playing surface.[2] The first grandstand there was erected in 1893, and another one in 1893.

In April 1897 the team switched from rugby union to rugby league following a unanimous vote at the club. Barrow joined the Lancashire Senior Competition Second Division and became champions in their first season. However, they lost a test match against Morecambe, the bottom club in the First Division and they failed to gain promotion. They were finally promoted in the 1899–1900 season, by defeating Tyldesley in the challenge match.

In 1908, the club nearly doubled their attendance record to 12,000 in a third round Challenge Cup match against Hunslet.[2]

In 1914, Cavendish Park was requisitioned by the authorities for the war effort. Barrow moved to Little Park, Roose, three miles from the centre of town. The first match there was a 31–2 victory over Bramley. The league at this time was suspended and clubs were forced to arrange their own fixtures in an unofficial war league. Boosted by an influx of players and spectators into the local shipyards for war production, Barrow became one of the dominant teams of the war period, winning the unofficial championship title in 1917-18 losing just twice in 22 matches.

After World War I, Barrow had mixed fortunes and when the league resumed in 1919–20, they managed to finish fifth. However, over the next decade, despite having several county and national players, Barrow's form suffered and its league position was poor.

In 1929, it had been realised that rugby league in Barrow was approaching a precarious period, as the attendances at Little Park were gradually decreasing. This was in part due to industrial depression but also Little Park's location. The directors made an appeal to the town, and approached the mayor, Alderman John Whinnerah who was to be an ardent supporter. Commander G. W. Craven, a local war hero, started an appeal fund with a donation of £500. In a short time the club bought a central site, where the Jute Works stood for £2,500. Craven Park was built in 1931, largely as a result of the efforts of supporters, 500 of whom volunteered to construct the ground. The total cost of the building project came to £7,500 which was an unbelievable figure in those days (based on increases in average earnings, this would be approximately £1,251,000 in 2013).[3]

1937–38 saw Barrow reach the finals of the Lancashire Cup for the first time, losing narrowly 4–8 to Warrington. That season was a time of great opportunity for the Barrow team but was to end in disappointment. After playing seven matches in just ten days, they lost 7–4 to Salford in the final of the Challenge Cup at Wembley; they also lost in the Championship play-off semi-final 13–7 against Hunslet. A new attendance record was set in that season – 21,651 in the Good Friday game against Salford.

Post World War Two

Craven Park, the current home of Barrow Raiders

Barrow dropped out of the wartime Lancashire league in 1940–41, they did not return to league competition until 1945–46. As many of the pre-war players had retired, this was an era of rebuilding and recruiting.

The 1950s were the club's heyday. The team was captained by Willie Horne and Barrow appeared no less than three times at Wembley. On 5 May 1951, Barrow made their second appearance at Wembley and were beaten 10–0 by Wigan. On Saturday 27 October 1951 13,319 spectators were at Barrow to watch the home side beat New Zealand 9–5. On 30 April 1955, Barrow made their third appearance at Wembley. This time, they won the Challenge Cup 21–12 against Workington Town, later that year they added the Lancashire Cup after a 12–2 win over Oldham.

On 11 May 1957, Barrow played again in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley against Leeds and were narrowly beaten 9–7. 1957 signalled the end of the golden era of the club and most of the star players retired after this time.

The league split into two divisions in 1961–62 and because of a poor finish in the previous season, Barrow was forced to play in the second division.

In 1963, Jim Challinor moved to Barrow and became their player-coach.

Their last appearance at Wembley Stadium was in 1967, where they were strongly tipped to win the Challenge Cup final again, but were beaten by Featherstone Rovers 17–12. A crowd of 77,000 paid a then record £54,435 to watch the game (based on increases in average earnings, this would be approximately £1,625,000 in 2013).[3]

1973 saw Barrow appoint former player, Frank Foster, as coach. He built a side which won the Second Division championship in 1975–76 and reached a John Player Trophy final in 1981 only to lose 5–12 to Warrington. Phil Hogan was transferred to Hull Kingston Rovers in 1978 for a then world record fee of £33,000 (based on increases in average increases, this would be approximately £249,700 in 2013).[3] Latterly with good 'hard' forwards and fast talented 'union' backs this team were known as the 'Harlem Globetrotters' of rugby league, always trying to keep the ball alive and exciting to watch. The only problem was inconsistency and stabilising the club in the 'Premier league' was too difficult to achieve.

Barrow fluctuated between divisions but had three consecutive years in the top flight between 1980 and 1983. Frank Foster was eventually replaced by Tommy Dawes in 1983.

The season 1983–84 saw Barrow win the Second Division title and the Lancashire Cup against favourites Widnes 12–8, the team was; Ian Ball, David Cairns, Dave Elliott (substitute), Steve Herbert, Alan Hodkinson, Ralph McConnell, Mark McJennett, Dave Milby, Terry Moore, Steve Mossop, Eddie Szymala, Steve Tickle, Dave Tyson (substitute), Les Wall, Andy Whittle, and Tommy Dawes (Coach), the entire Barrow team was inducted into the Barrow Hall of Fame in 2003. Tommy Dawes, despite his initial success, was sacked in 1985.

In 1988–89, Australian Rod Reddy took on a player-coach role at Barrow in 1987. Barrow earned promotion to Division One but that campaign saw Barrow manage only one league win and suffer a club record 90–0 defeat at Leeds. Reddy was sacked and Denis Jackson took over as a caretaker coach for the rest of 1989–90.

After relegation in 1990, Barrow appointed a new coach in Steve Norton but finished 17th out of 21 in Division Two.

Summer era

Barrow Raiders player, Zeb Luisi attempting to tackle Shaun Ainscough of Wigan

In 1996, the first tier of British rugby league clubs played the inaugural Super League season and changed from a winter to a summer season.[4] When the Super League competition had been proposed, part of the deal was that some traditional clubs would merge. Barrow were down to merge with Whitehaven, Workington Town and Carlisle to form a new club called Cumbria based in Workington which would compete in the Super League but ultimately this did not happen and Barrow were not part of the new competition.

Until 1995 the team was simply titled Barrow RLFC, but they adopted the nickname Barrow Braves to coincide with rugby league's switch to a summer season. Peter Roe was head coach for an 15-month period, ending in January 1996.

In 1997 they merged with Cumbrian rivals Carlisle to form Barrow Border Raiders. Carlisle's Paul Charlton became coach of the new team. The new team played all its matches in Barrow; the merger was essentially a financial arrangement only. Barrow enjoyed mixed fortunes under Paul Charlton with two top-ten finishes in the Northern Ford Premiership in 1999 and 2000, before the club's fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 2001 season, which resulted in Paul Charlton not being offered a new contract.[2] In 2002 the "Border" part of the name, which was never that relevant to Barrow, which is in south Cumbria, was dropped.

Under Peter Roe's second spell at Craven Park, they were National League Two champions in 2004, their first trophy for 20 years. They were promoted to National League One. However, they were relegated back to National League Two at the end of the 2005 season after winning just one of their 18 matches. The financial situation at the club forced a review of the coaching structure and the position of head coach was made part-time and the club parted company with Peter Roe. In October 2005 local ex-player Paul Crarey was appointed as head coach. In his first season as coach of the Raiders he guided them to the National League Two play-offs on a very limited budget. After the end of the 2007 season Paul Crarey controversially resigned from Barrow Raiders, after guiding them to a second successive play-off position.

Barrow initially had lined up former Widnes coach Steve McCormack to take over but after receiving a better position with struggling Super League club Hull KR. On Thursday 2 November 2007 Barrow Raiders announced that former player Welsh-born Aussie Dave Clarke would take over, with Dean Marwood as his assistant. On 23 August 2008, Raiders gained automatic promotion from National League Two by beating Swinton 12–32 to clinch second place in National League Two. On 5 April 2009, Barrow played Wigan of the Super League in one of the biggest matches to be played at Craven Park, and pushed Wigan all the way in a titanic struggle with Ian Lenagan, Wigan's owner, admitting later that he had been worried about a shock cup exit for his side. On 21 July Despite the club being 2nd in the league and having made the Northern Rail Cup Final coach Dave Clarke stepped down and became assistant to new head coach Steve Deakin.

On 31 August 2009, after just 6 weeks in charge, Steve Deakin left the club and Dave Clarke reclaimed the head coach role, leading the club to the 2009 Co-Op Championship league leaders trophy and a grand final appearance versus Halifax. In the 2009 Co-Op Championship Grand Final, a closely matched game was fought between Barrow and Halifax, but a try in the 77th minute settled the game once and for all in Barrow's favour. The final score was Barrow 26–18 Halifax.

Barrow finished fourth in 2010 with coach Steve McCormack leaving the club to take up a teaching post. After a lengthy search for a new coach, Barrow plumped for Garry Schofield. Schofield was sacked as coach after only five games in 2011 and his assistant Nigel Wright was appointed as head coach. With 6 games to go in July Barrow sacked Nigel Wright and appointed old coach Dave Clarke as their manager for the rest of the season. The on-field problems were matched by off-field difficulties, with the club accused of breaking salary cap rules. This was eventually found to be so and all of Barrow's points were deducted for the 2011 season, relegating them to the Co-operative Championship 1 for the 2012 season. Barrow were promoted directly back up to the Championship, where they have competed since 2013.

Past coaches

2015 squad

* Announced on 17 January 2015:

2015 Squad Numbers

No Player Position Former club
1 Kristian Tyson Full Back Askam ARLFC
2 Lee Haney Wing Hawcoat Park RUFC
3 Chris Hankinson Centre Leigh Centurions
4 Max Wiper Centre Whitehaven RLFC
5 Kyle Dolan Wing Salford Red Devils
6 Brad Marwood Stand Off Warrington Wolves
7 Liam Campbell Scrum Half Batley Bulldogs
8 Joe Bullock Prop Leigh Centurions
9 Nathan Mossop Hooker South Wales Scorpions
10 Andrew Dawson Prop, Second Row Millom RLFC
11 Liam Harrison (C) Second Row, Centre Warrington Wolves
13 Dan Toal Loose Forward Cumbria Storm
14 Josh Ward Hooker Leigh Centurions
15 Ruairi McGoff Prop Ulverston ARLFC
16 Adam Nicholson Prop, Second Row Dalton ARLFC
17 Jamie Butler Prop Askam ARLFC
18 Danny Jones Prop St Helens
19 Matt Heaton Centre, Second Row Salford Red Devils
20 Shane Toal Loose Forward Cumbria Storm
21 Anthony Bate Second Row Leigh Centurions
22 Joe Hambley Prop Ulverston ARLFC
23 Chris Fleming Utility Back Tweed Heads Seagulls
24 Andy Litherland Prop Walney Central
27 Cameron Pittman Centre Leigh Centurions - On Loan
28 Brad Crellin Second Row Whitehaven RLFC
29 Peter Lupton Stand Off, Loose Forward Workington Town

2016 transfers


Player Club Contract length Date
Oliver Wilkes Leigh Centurions 1 Year September 2015
Ryan Fieldhouse Dewsbury Rams 1 Year September 2015
Cameron Pitman Leigh Centurions 1 Year Loan October 2015
Chris Hankinson Leigh Centurions 1 Year Loan October 2015
Jamie Tracey Leigh Centurions 1 Year Loan October 2015
Martin Aspinwall Leigh Centurions 2 Years October 2015
James Deurden Workington Town 2 Years October 2015
Matty While Leeds Rhinos 2 Years October 2015
Dan Abram Sarina Crocodiles 2 Years October 2015


Player Club Contract length Date
Craig Briscoe Oldham Roughyeds 1 Year September 2015

Hall of Fame

The Barrow club launched its Hall of Fame in 2001 with 1950s legends Willie Horne, Phil Jackson and Jimmy Lewthwaite its inaugural inductees. Information on other former players can be found in the List of Barrow Raiders players article.

Club honours

Club records

  • Most tries in a game: 6 by Val Cumberbatch against Batley 21 November 1936, Jim Thornburrow against Maryport 19 February 1938, and Steve Rowan against Nottingham City 15 November 1992
  • Most goals in a game: 17 by Darren Carter against Nottingham City 27 November 1994
  • Most points in a game: 42 by Darren Carter against Nottingham City 27 November 1994
  • Most tries in a season: 50 by Jimmy Lewthwaite in 1956–57
  • Most goals in a season: 135 by Joe Ball in 1956–57
  • Most points in a season: 323 by Jamie Rooney in 2010
  • Most tries in a career: 352 by Jimmy Lewthwaite
  • Most goals in a career: 1,036 by Darren Holt
  • Most points in a career: 2,403 by Darren Holt

External links

  • Official site
  • Barrow Raiders forum on
  • National League website
  • Barrow Raiders Fans Forums –


  1. ^ "Raiders Relegated – Johnston banned from RL for eight years", North-West Evening Mail, 8 October 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2011
  2. ^ a b c Delaney, Trevor (1991). The Grounds Of Rugby League.  
  3. ^ a b c "Measuring Worth – Relative Value of UK Pounds". Measuring Worth. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Dave Hadfield (20 December 1995). "Rugby's pounds 87m deal gives Murdoch transfer veto". The Independent. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
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