MIDLANDS RUGBY LEAGUE

19th June 2020, 11:50 | 125

#RFL125 World Cup of Stadia | Semi-Final Preview

#RFL125 World Cup of Stadia | Semi-Final Preview

This weekend sees the semi-finals and final of the ‘World Cup of Stadia’ take place, as part of the Rugby Football League’s 125th year celebrations. 

After sixteen famous Rugby League stadiums entered, we now have our final four who will compete to be crowned as World Cup winners.

The final four are:

Mount Pleasant (Batley Bulldogs)

Naughton Park (Widnes Vikings)

Post Office Road (Featherstone Rovers)

Watersheddings (Oldham)

Mount Pleasant (Batley Bulldogs)

Batley’s Mount Pleasant knocked off Wigan Warriors’ former home of Central Park and Castleford Tigers’ Wheldon Road to make it into the last four.

Mount Pleasant has played host to Batley since the gates opened 1880 and the stadium welcomed back the Bulldogs in 1897 as the first-ever winners of the Challenge Cup, following a 10-3 victory over St Helens. 

The record attendance for a fixture at Mount Pleasant stands at 23,989 for a Challenge Cup tie between Batley and Leeds Rhinos on 14th March 1925.

The stadium is known for its infamous ‘sloped pitch’ with the bottom corner of the field having a pronounced dip which both Batley and visiting teams have used to their advantage over the years.

Naughton Park (Widnes Vikings)

Naughton Park opened in 1895 and was the home of Widnes Vikings up until 1997 when a new stadium was built on the site.

The stadium was named after Club Secretary Tom Naughton who was instrumental in raising the necessary funds to purchase the site, but before the formal completion of the purchase sadly passed away following a car cash in 1932.

Naughton Park famously saw Widnes defeat a touring Australian Kangaroos side in front of 12,202 spectators as part of the 1978 Kangaroos Tour. The stadium also held three European Rugby League Championship fixtures between 1978 and 1980.

Widnes would lift the Championship on three occasions whilst at Naughton Park and also bring the Challenge Cup back to the stadium on seven occasions including four times between 1975 and 1984 earning the moniker of ‘Cup Kings’. 

The stadium was sold to Halton Borough Council in 1995 with the Council agreeing to build a new stadium on the site which would open in 1997 and has played host to the Vikings since.

Post Office Road (Featherstone Rovers)

Post Office Road is the only one of the four semi-finalists which opened its gates post-1900 with the stadium officially opening in 1904 and being used by Featherstone Rovers since their formation in 1908.

Featherstone hosted St Helens in 1957 with the fixture drawing a record attendance of 17,000 while the Rovers have twice beaten a touring Australian Kangaroos side at Post Office Road in 1959 and 1963.

Post Office Road has been renovated over the past decade thanks to a loyal group of Featherstone Rovers volunteers who have become known as ‘The Stand Gang’.

The stadium saw Featherstone Rovers lift the 1976-77 Championship as well as bring home three Challenge Cup titles between 1967 and 1983. The club have since gone on to lift four consecutive Championship League Leaders’ Shields between 2010 and 2013 at the ground. 

Watersheddings (Oldham)

Watersheddings was constructed and opened in 1889 with Oldham immediately taking residence at the stadium playing their first game against Swinton on 28th September.

In 1904, Watersheddings was selected to host the very first Rugby League international between England and Other Nationalities on New Year’s Day but the game was cancelled due to a frozen pitch, with Wigan’s Central Park eventually being bestowed with the honour. 

Eight years later, a record attendance of 28,000 was set as Oldham hosted Huddersfield in 1912. Huddersfield would once again become engrained in Watersheddings’ history as they won the 1915 Challenge Cup Final 37-3 against St Helens in the only-ever Challenge Cup Final to be held at Oldham’s home.

Watersheddings played host to touring Australia and New Zealand sides on 25 occasions between 1907 and 1986, with Oldham earning eight victories.

The stadium was reportedly the highest professional Rugby League stadium in the UK, sitting 770 feet above sea level, which would also list it as the highest ground of any professional sport in the UK. Watersheddings closed its doors in 1997.

 

Voting for the semi-finals will be live on the @TheRFL Twitter page at midday on Friday and Saturday before the final voting will go live on Sunday at midday.