A Condensed History

Sedgley Park is a district of Manchester about two miles north of the city centre (go past Strangeways!) and here, in 1932 at a public meeting in a temperance bar, of all places, the club began. The very first ground was a farmer’s field in Whitefield, and we have never actually played in Sedgley Park itself.

Despite the primitive conditions – cowshed for changing, farmyard pump for washing – the new club thrived. A clubhouse had already been built and three regular teams were being fielded before war broke out in 1939.

We survived the war years, and also a difficult period afterwards when we lost our rented ground. For two years all games were played away, with barely enough playing members for two teams, until in 1955 we moved to our present site, with an immediate and spectacular improvement in playing standards.

During the next twenty years Sedgley Park became a successful and respected junior club but, in the years before league rugby, advancement was practically impossible, especially for a club notorious for its muddy pitches; ‘Sludgley Park’, we were called!
The decision to build a large, two-storey clubhouse was arguably the most significant one in our history.

Building began in 1978 at a time when the club was enjoying great success on the field, and was completed in time for the 1982 Golden Jubilee season; it had been a risky venture at the time, but it set us apart from the other local junior clubs.

When the Courage Leagues began in 1987 we had progressed far enough to be placed in North West 2 [level 8], from which we gained promotion at the first attempt.

We remained in North West 1 for seven years; meanwhile, the club was expanding in other directions with a huge increase in quantity and quality at the age-group level of the game. When the game went ‘open’ in the middle nineties, Sedgley Park was ready for the next leap forward.

Promotion was achieved three years in succession; the clubhouse was extended; the two pitches became one, now in excellent condition, with floodlights and terracing. A newly purchased field, just across the road, provided three more much needed pitches and floodlit training.

Another promotion, in 2001, took us to National League Two, level 3 of the English game. We now had a stand from which to watch our heroes and they responded by attaining League One status in 2004, the 6th promotion since 1987.

The little Lancashire club that had once played Old Salfordians and De La Salle Training College now had league fixtures against Bristol, Coventry and London Welsh.

We survived at level 2 for several years, enjoying fixtures against the likes of Harlequins and Northampton, but we were always hanging on to compete on the field with clubs whose playing budgets were much larger than ours could ever hope to be.

It came as a relief, though tinged with disappointment, when a league reorganisation took us down to level 3 again for the 2009-10 season.

With good management we know we can be highly successful at this level.

Dave Morton
September. 2010

History Extras