HOW the times have changed at Saints.

This picture is the Saints squad ahead of the first Division One game of the 1981-82 season against the newly promoted Fulham.

What is interesting out of the 20 players listed is that 12 of them are homegrown from the town of St Helens.

There would have been 13 had Roy Haggerty not been absent that week.

The next largest representation on this Saints picture is from Wales, with five players who had "Gone North".

St Helens Star: Saints class of 1981-82

Steve Bayliss, Roger Owen and Mel James are on the back row, with former Llanelli pair Roy Mathias and Clive Griffiths on the front row. 

The other three are from Widnes, Greater Manchester and Cumbria.

So why has the make up of the team - as in origins - changed so much compared to today.

The ending of the overseas transfer ban began to bring in players from Australia from 1984 onwards, so clubs increasingly began to look there for recruits.

By 1995/96 the advent of open professionalism in rugby union saw the need for players to leave Wales and go North to earn a living from playing end. 

Indeed it was reversed with Jonathan Griffiths returning to his home nation and original code.

As for the St Helens-born contingent, Jonny Lomax and James Roby were the only home-grown members of the top 20 numbers - with Sam Royle the most prominent of those in the higher shirt numbers beyond that.

Saints' success in recent years has come through their prolific junior system - but part of that success has come in the way the Junior and Academy network has trawled towns like Widnes, Wigan and Rochdale for the cream of the region.  

As for other changes, apart from the obvious Knowsley Road Edington End in the backdrop, note the traditional red vee.

Three season later that would be a chevron and a first sponsors log.