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THE HISTORY OF SKIRLAUGH R.L.F.C.

To trace the origins of the Skirlaugh club we look back to Boxing Day 1980 when a group of rugby enthusiasts played a friendly against the local cricket club, which the latter prevailed by 13-6. That now historical game took place at Benningholme Lane in the village of the same name which nestles in the Holderness Plain between Hull and the East Coast and was the beginning of the what the club has grown into today.

To look at the full history of the Skirlaugh RLFC it is defined into three separate and defined chapters.

1980 to 1996, Benningholme Lane and the Humberside League

1996 to 2012 National Conference League (Winter Seasons)

 2012 to the present ---National Conference League (Summer Seasons)

 

 Chapter 1

1980 TO 1996 - BENNINGHOLME LANE & THE HUMBERSIDE LEAGUE

Skirlaugh joined the Humberside League (now The Hull & District League) in the 1981/82 season as members of Division Four, twice finishing fourth. Due to a re-structuring of the league Skirlaugh found themselves in Division Two at the start of the 1983/84 campaign.

An unbeaten fourteen match league programme saw them crowned Division Two “Champions” and the first of what was to become numerous cup final appearances. That first of many was The Terry Hall Cup as Ship Inn were defeated 40-22.

 1984/85 saw the First Division Championship lifted after an unbeaten league campaign added to that was three appearances in the local cup finals. The Terry Hall Cup (57-22 versus Crooked Billet) was retained; The Transport Cup (8-4 versus Jesmond) was added whilst a first showing in the prestigious BOCM Cup Final ended in defeat by the odd point in twenty seven to NEGAS.

Moving up to the elite Premier Division it was a time of consolidation as three successive seventh place finishes ensued, but The Humberside Championship was claimed in the 1988/89 season, just nine short years after the foundation of the Skirlaugh club. However that success was achieved in dramatic fashion, as it was three way tie at the end of the season on twenty two points. In the play off for the title Skirlaugh won 14-10 at NDLB (Hull Dockers) and then 22-16 at Mysons ( East Hull).

Third and fourth place finishes followed in the next two seasons, before another third in 1991/92, a season which put Skirlaugh into the national arena and focus. Skirlaugh reached the final of The BARLA National Cup, only to lose 27-08 to arch local rivals Hull Dockers at Knowsley Road, St.Helens. This was to be the first of a record six appearances in the “Blue Ribband” knock out competition of the amateur game, as Skirlaugh became known as “The Cup Kings” in the mid nineties and into the Millennium.

1992/93 saw Skirlaugh only muster a fifth place league finish, but improved a year later to third place, but again in 1994/95 the Humberside Championship was brought back to the village as part of a notable double. The club lifted for the very first time The Yorkshire Cup with a thrilling 24-20 victory over holders Heworth at The Ryedale Stadium, York.

1994 saw stand off Lee Newton become the club’s first ever not only international but tourists when he toured South Africa with the BARLA Young Lions Under 23 side.

Skirlaugh went one better in the following 1995/96 season by claiming an- precedented “Treble” which had never been achieved in the amateur game before, of firstly retaining and lifting their own local league Championship secondly not only retaining their own County Yorkshire Cup with an 11-6 victory over Thornhill at Crown Flatts, Dewsbury, but lifting the BARLA National Cup for the first time.. The latter came with a thrilling 21-17 victory over Cumbrian “Giants” Ellenborough Rangers to which this day is rated the greatest of all the finals, in which now Skirlaugh “legend” and now Chairman of the Youth Section, Richard Gotts was awarded The Tom Keavenghy Man of the Match award. Front row forward Dean Ralph became the BARLA “Player of the Year”.

It was that prowess on the field and continual success that drove Skirlaugh to making a successful bid to join the National Conference League and test themselves againt the best in the country week in, week out.

 

1996 TO 2011 THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE LEAGUE (WINTER SEASONS)

 

Prior to acceptance of entry into Division Two of the National Conference League in the 1996/97 season, the spring and summer of 1996 proved to be an intense time both on and off the field. Huge volumes of work were undertaken at the then B.P.Club at Saltend, now the Eastside Community Sports Trust ensuring all the rigorous standards of the league were adhered to. One of the most important steps was amalgamating with the then defunct Crown Mallet Youth Section, which was the fore runner of our own now highly successful Skirlaugh Bulls Youth Section. That was brought to fruition by the hard work of Kim Baish, Peter Anderson and Kevin Dale amongst others and today is a massive success story as The Skirlaugh Bulls Youth Section is a very large and vibrant one.

In that inaugural  National Conference League season of 1996/97 Skirlaugh finished runners up to Redhill (Castleford) , as record try scorer Shaun Wyvill took The NCL Division Two Player of the Year, pipping fellow nominee Phil Crane. The club went one better in the following season of 1997/98 by lifting the First Division Championship, and becoming the first ever side to gain successive promotions to the Premier Division, as new members to the elite structure.

Skirlaugh’s first two seasons in the Premier Division saw them runners up on both occasions, been narrowly ousted to the silverware by arch rivals West Hull, but enjoyed the luxury of dominating the BARLA National Cup, with back to back victories in 1999 & 2000. The Copeland Stadium, Whitehaven in 1999 saw Wath Brow Hornets defeated 32-2 in a record winning margin, which was a season present head coach Colin Brown was awarded the National Conference Player of the Year award. A year later in 2000 at The Boulevard in Hull, Skirlaugh overcame local rivals Ideal Isberg 36-30. Brown also on both occasions collected the Tom Keavangh Memorial Man of the Match Sword, in those cup victories.

Season 2000/01 saw a fifth place finish, a season later fourth and again in 2003/04 Skirlaugh were again runners up to Siddal. It was to be a season that ended in controversy as Skirlaugh were ordered to face West Hull on Challenge Cup Final day in a Play Off Final Eliminator, and were unable to raise a side due to the annual pilgrimage to Wembley. That resulted in a £750 fine and a four point deduction for the following season, which had an adverse effect on the club which struggled the following season. It was a campaign that saw a season long fight against relegation, before finishing a respectable tenth, and ending the season with a fifth appearance in the final of the BARLA National Cup., at Blackpool. However Wath Brow Hornets gained revenge for their 1999 defeat when running out 15-8 winners.

The following season (2005/06) Skirlaugh finished fifth in The Premier Division and returned to Blackpool for a record sixth National Cup Final appearance, and lifted the trophy for the fourth time when overcoming Leigh Miners Rangers 23-16. Phil Crane set a new benchmark when making a fifth appearance in the final, and having a record four winners medals to his name.

 

Despite all their National Cup successes, Skirlaugh’s greatest achievement came in the 2006/07 season, as they finished runners up to Leigh Miners Rangers, who they went on to beat in The NCL Grand Final 8-6 in a classic contest at The Spotland Stadium, Rochdale and become Conference Champions. Thus Skirlaugh became the first side to not finish in pole position and lift the title, the biggest prize in the amateur game. Following that Grand Final success Skirlaugh travelled to France the following September to contest The European Championship against Bias (Villeneuve), which they duly lifted with a 28-18 victory to complete a remarkable “Double”.

 The following three seasons of 2007/08, 2008/09 & 2009/10 saw Skirlaugh at the top end of the amateur game finishing third on those occasions in the Premier Division, but having to look in at other’s successes. Trevor Penrose became BARLA Player of the Year, in 2009, whilst in 2010 Skirlaugh participated in The NCL Grand Final Play Off's for the last time when bowing out to fifth placed Leigh Miners Rangers at Eastside.

The following campaign of 2010/11 which was the last "Winter Season" saw an erratic showing starting off as early league leaders, and falling into a deep slump, which at the time saw a record defeat by 66-22 at Leigh East before recovering to finish what was a credible eighth, and outside the play off's for the first time since their inception.

 

2011 TO THE PRESENT DAY  - SUMMER SEASONS

A major ground shift in the amateur game saw the National Conference League adopt a policy to align themselves with their professional counterparts and adapt to playing “Summer Rugby” from 2012 with the season operating from March through to October.

 

 From that point the fortunes of the club were one long struggle to avoid relegation to Division One, and it actually came to a last day shoot out with Leigh East that preserved Skirlaugh's status. Leigh East visited Eastside with the winner condemning the other side to relegation on the last day of the 2012 season. Skirlaugh ran out victors 26-24 with a penalty two minutes from time from centre Jason Bell. Extra spice had been added to the contest as Leigh East failed to turn up seven days earlier for the scheduled vital fixture date, with a huge crowd in place and the team changed and warming up.

2013 was again a season of struggle when the club finished two places above the relegation berths in tenth, and secured their status with a victory at Ince Rose Bridge with three games to spare. That completed a "Double" over the Wigan side as Skirlaugh ran up a record NCL score when winning 82-16.

After years of struggle the inevitable became reality in 2014 as the Skirlaugh club suffered their first ever relegation in their long and proud history of 34 years which began in 1980. After a season of ups and downs it all came down to having to win in Cumbria against Wath Brow Hornets and hoping other results went their way. That certainly did not happen as Skirlaugh succumbed in a record defeat by 70-10, with a thoroughly dismal second half performance after only trailing 14-4 at the break. It was the last ever appearance in a Skirlaugh shirt of inspirational skipper Sean Wildbore who is a true legend of the club. He holds the most appearances for the club, and indeed on many occasions captained his country when representing The RFL Community Lions

So season 2015 saw Skirlaugh starting a new life in Division One, , but the season was to be one of consolidation and to re-group and re-focus. The club eventually finished eighth after one time making a pitch for the play offs. 2016 Skirlaugh finish saw third in Division One and after a play off series took on Featherstone Lions at Widnes, with the prize for the winners promotion to The Premier Division, and Skirlaugh duly triumphed on the day.

2017 was a hard year for the club and again it was a season long struggle which again ended in relegation and a return to Division One and again a time to consolidate which resulted in a 2018 eighth place finish.

One goal that Skirlaugh have never achieved is to beat a professional side in the RFL Challenge Cup, having taken Swinton Lions to extra time (2002), narrowly losing at Whitehaven 12-6 |(1997), whilst playing Hunslet Hawks (1996 & 1998), Workington Town (1999 & 2000), York City Knights (2003), Featherstone Rovers (2006), Widnes Vikings (2008)and finally Gloucester All Golds (2012 & 2015).