We are indebted to Alex Service [Club Historian St Helens R[L]FC] who found a match report from 1874 when we hosted St Helens RFC.
Here’s what he had to say.
The original St Helens RFC [now, of course, the mighty Saints] played a Waterloo team in March 1874. I've enclosed a two-part report for you from the St Helens Standard newspaper. As you are aware, some rugby teams became established and re-invented themselves after a few years. Wigan were founded in 1872 and were 're-invented' as Wasps a few years later, before becoming Wigan RFC once again; same for Warrington and definitely the same for St Helens, who 'imploded' in the late 1870s and re-emerged as the Eccleston Rangers, then the St Helens Rangers, before merging with the SHCC and becoming St Helens RFC once more. There are no more fixtures with 'Waterloo' in the mid-1880s, although matches are recorded against 'Blundelsands'.
The Waterloo team enclosed has two players called Cannington, who were part of the Cannington glass manufacturing family of St Helens, making bottles: Cannington Shaws [later UGB] so added interest for us there.
And here is a transcript of the match report
On Saturday afternoon last the Saint Helens team gained a decided victory over the Waterloo team, on the ground of the latter. The match commenced rather late owing to the time taken in reaching Waterloo; nevertheless both teams had evidently had quite enough of it when “no side” was called, but struggle being well contested from beginning to end. The Saint Helens team arrived in Liverpool about 3:30 and thence by the 3:45 train from the exchange station to Waterloo, which they reached a few minutes after 4 o’clock.
The ground was very bad, some parts consisting entirely on loose sand, in which it was impossible to kick the ball without also raising a cloud of dust; No was it by any means level, 4 in the 1st place is inclined from one go to the other comma and in the 2nd place in it was very uneven on to innumerable ridges across the field of play. Moreover, the ball itself was not probably blown and, instead of being hard and almost incomprehensible, was as soft and flabby as a plum pudding. Immediately on arriving on the ground it was noticed that large number of ‘Royal Infirmary’ men were going to play on the Waterloo side, so that Saint Helens began to think that they were ‘let in’ for another defeat. But matters turned out differently. At the commencement there was a very large assembly of people interested in the game, indeed so much so that it was great difficulty they could be kept off the ground. The captains of the respective teams tossed up at 4:25 and Waterloo, winning, chose the lower goal. Punctually at 4:30 Jackson kicked off for Saint Helens and sent the ball flying down to the Waterloo lines. It was caught up by Faulkner who at once returned it to the middle of the field. Then the Saints by some good play on a series of loose scrummages gradually forced the ball down towards Waterloo’s goal and made the latter touchdown in self-defence. (1 rouge to St Helens.)
Waterloo kicked the ball out, and it was picked up by Jackson, who did some excellent dodging right through the thick of the fight, till he was collared. In the scrummage the ball was carried through by the “Saints” and fell into the hands of Faulkner, who mad a good run towards the “Saints” goal, but by degrees Waterloo was driven further and further back, and in spite of the great help derived from another run of Faulkner’s the “Saints” forced their opponents to touch the ball down within their own goal lines. (2 rouges to St. Helen.)
The forward play of St. Helens in the loose scrummages was very good, but in the close scrummages, though there were very few of them, Waterloo had the best of it. After the second rouge being kicked out by Waterloo, was caught by one of the “Saints,” who took a “free kick,” which was well followed up and some more loose scrummage play took place in very close proximity to the Waterloo goal. By degrees, the ball was driven nearer and nearer the line, and finally was kicked through by the “Saints,” and followed up by Bushby who touched it down. The “try” was kicked by Jackson but no goal was obtained. However, the “Saints” followed up well, and made Waterloo touch it down. (1 try and 3 rouges to St. Helens)
After being licked out for the third time the ball was again driven behind Waterloo’s goal line, and was again touched down by Bushby. The second try was also a failure. Jones (Waterloo back) took up the ball and made a good attempt to get into the middle of the field, but failed to run far. Again the “Saints” forced the ball back and Waterloo were obliged to touch it down for the fourth time. (2 tries and 4 rouges to St. Helens.)
Waterloo again kicked the ball out, and followed up very well indeed, but the “Saints” were too strong for them, and once more drove within a few yards of their goal line, when Cannington got hold of the ball and sent it up towards the “Saints” goal. But Forster made a short run and kicked it back again. Both sides at this stage of the game were very determined, and in the loose scrummages which took place in rather too close proximity to the Waterloo goal some unintentional hacks were exchanged. Notwithstanding the good play of Cannington and Other the ball was creeping nearer and nearer to the Waterloo goal, and just outside the goal line a very good scrummage took place. The ball rolled out on the “Saints” side and H Varley seizing hold of it made a dash into the Waterloo goal almost before anyone was aware the ball was out of the scrummage, and touched it down. This try was also a failure. Immediately after it had been kicked “half-time” was called, and the goals were changed. (3 tries and 4 rouges to St. Helens.)
At 6-20 Waterloo kicked off and commenced to play with great determination. But the “Saints” were all there. At first the “Saints” were compelled to retreat, and were forced to touch the ball down in self-defence. (1 rouge to Waterloo.) On the ball being kicked out, some very good scrummage play took place in the middle of the field, first one side and then the other obtaining a slight advantage. But at last the “Saints” began to forge ahead and kept the ball well up in the field, till it fell into Jones’s hands, and was sent flying down for the “Saints” goal. It was evident the sides were much more even now because the ground was in favour of Waterloo. The ball was quickly brought up again and once more approached very near to the Waterloo lines, though much to one side, when Jackson got hold of it and running round in front of goal kicked the ball over the bar in magnificent style. (1 goal, 3 tries and 4 rouges to St. Helens.)
Goals were not changed although they should have been. Waterloo kicked off again, and by backing up very well gradually forced the “Saints” till the later were compelled to touch it down. (2 rouges to Waterloo.) On being kicked out by Jackson the ball flew right up to Jones, who made a magnificent run right down to the Saints’ goal line when he was collared by Roberts, and they both fell in goal together, Jones retaining possession of the ball, and thus obtaining the first touch-down for Waterloo. Cannington took the ball out and Jones kicked but failed to obtain a goal. After a few more minutes play “no side” was called at 6 o’clock. Thus ended a well-fought match, St Helens having obtained a goal, 3 tries and 4 rouges; and Waterloo 1 try and 2 rouges.
Of those who did good service for St. Helens may be mentioned: - Roberts (back), Foster and Bushby (half-backs), Jackson, Pritchard, H. Varley, R. Varley, W. Varley and Broome (forwards.)
For the Waterloo: - Jones (back), Faulkner (3/4 back) A. Cannington (capt, half-back), J. Cannington, Other, Getty (forwards), did most service.
Subjoined is a list of both sides: -
- HELENS: - Roberts and Jones (backs), Bushby and Forster (half-backs), Herman (capt. Three-quarters back_, H. Varley, Jackson, W. Gamble, Pritchard, Broome, R. Varley, M. Hammill, Thomson, W. Varley, Pugh, and two others.
WATERLOO: - Jones and W. Johnson (backs) Faulkner and L. Helde (three-quarters back), A. Cannington (capt.) and P. Edwards (half-backs), J. Cannington, W. Armstrong, S. Style, Bibby, Taylor, W. Edwards, A.N. Other, O. Jones, R. Getty, Hadden, and Thomas (forwards)
The weather was all that could be desired, except that it might have been considered rather too warm for such hard work as football.