ST HELENS RFC will mark their 150th anniversary this weekend – a landmark that provides a time of commemoration, celebration and reflection, remembering all those who have stepped on to the Saints timeline whether in blue and white stripes, a red band or the now trademark vee.

That history is not simply about the players, the on-field drama or the silverware that has for long spells weighed down the trophy cabinet, but also the part that this sporting institution has played in the lives of generations of St Helens folk.

The club has been a constant source of comfort, pleasure and self-inflicted pain throughout real world timescale of an occasionally turbulent century and a half.

When asked about the significance of this landmark date, Chairman Eamonn McManus says quite poignantly: “It is not just a game – imagine if you look back on your life and there had been no St Helens rugby league club.”

The club was formed at a meeting at the since demolished Fleece Hotel on Church Street on 19 November, 1873 after a notice placed by William Douglas Herman, who had arrived from Kent three years earlier to work as a Chemist at Pilkington’s Crown Glass Works.

He was joined by Messrs Gamble, Varley, Broome and Bishop – and the rest is history.

McManus said: “If William Herman and those men who got together in the Fleece Hotel could have looked through the kaleidoscope of time at the next 150 years then it would have been absolutely beyond comprehension.

“If you look 150 years later what we have achieved in that time, topped off in the anniversary year by winning the World Club Challenge in Australia and the first Women’s team to win at Wembley it really is quite incredible.”

Saints have enjoyed a glittering history – but some tough spells along the way.

However, the last 70 years have been largely successful and in the Super League era they have the distinction of being the inaugural winners, the only team to win four in a row and the only side to qualify for play-offs every year.

“Our consistency at the top is unparalleled – nobody has got anywhere near us in terms of consistency,” McManus said.

“But the real history of the club is the families of St Helens and their lifetime of memories, the fact that you’re with your friends and families and this club plays a big part of your life’s journey.

“Rugby league is not just a game; if you look back on your life and there had been no St Helens rugby league club how different would it have been and that is the case for the last 10 generations over 150 years.

“That is the real history – rugby league is a social movement and we at St Helens have very much been at the forefront of it.”

It is a club that has given townsfolk a burning sense of pride and key part of our identity – and that is something the Chairman celebrates.

St Helens Star:

“No matter where you go in the world if you say you are from St Helens anyone who has any knowledge of sport whatsoever latches on to it immediately.

“The history of the club to me is the effect that it has had on individual supporters and families – and their life, lifestyles, values and emotions,” he said.

McManus has been a supporter since being taken to the ground as a very young boy, but since his return to St Helens he has overseen some massive changes – and unparalleled success.

It is 24 years since McManus first invested in the club, before joining the board at the end of 2000.

In approaching a quarter of century at the helm he oversaw the 11-year challenge to switch from Knowsley Road to Langtree Park– something that was key to giving the club a sustainable future.

But as for moments, he believes this year’s victory over NRL Premiers Penrith Panthers is the absolute pinnacle of the club’s achievements.

He said: “In terms of a moment the Penrith is the one that is head and shoulders above anything.

“Just being there in Australia, on the other side of the world, doing something that I thought I would never do against a Penrith team acknowledged by everyone around as the best ever.

“To put the achievement into context their salary cap is five times ours now and they have all the best players from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

“We had 10 guys who had come through our Academy.”