KNOWSLEY Road cannot boast the volume of representative football as, say, Station Road, Central Park or Headingley, but it may come as a surprise to realise that our ground has been a venue for international football at professional level since 1914, when England took on Wales.

Yet St Helens might have had to wait a little longer for such an honour if they had not begun work on their new grandstand.

When the game took place, only one section had been completed and there was still nowhere for the players to change.

It must have been probably the last occasion when two teams stripped at a public house (Talbot Hotel in Duke Street) before an international, the players being transferred by the usual waggonette to and from Knowsley Road!

Unfortunately there were no local players in either side that day for the supporters to cheer, but the local press was fulsome in its praise of the encounter, which England won 16-12.

Knowsley Road’s next taste of international came in 1930, when England took on Other Nationalities.

There was plenty of interest for Saints’ fans, with Alf Ellaby (Captain) and Les Fairclough in the England team, together with Kiwis Roy Hardgrave and Lou Hutt lining up for the visitors, who were led by Wigan’s Jim Sullivan.

For the record, England won 31-18 with Ellaby roaring in for a marvellous hat-trick of tries just for good measure!

By the mid 1930s, the French had entered the international arena and took part in the European Championship with England and Wales.

Knowsley Road was the venue for what became the last international before the outbreak of war.

A brief film exists of this match, showing the ground as it was in those days, with a tantalising glimpse of the world’s longest billboard stretching along the whole length of the un-covered Edington End, advertising Lewis’s department store in Liverpool!

It was the precursor of several further battles between the two teams on the St Helens ground.

After the War, the European Championship was resurrected and England took on Wales at Knowsley Road in September 1951 in front of over 20,000 spectators. Stan McCormick (England), together with Welshmen Viv Harrison, Ray Cale and George Parsons were on view from the parent club for added interest.

As the development of Knowsley Road continued in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the club hosted a further spate of internationals against the French, including an astonishing crowd of 20,928 for the match against Great Britain in 1957, a record which will probably never be beaten.

After hosting the England-Wales clash in 1978, (including Geoff Pimblett’s superb individual 21 points for England) there was a 17-year gap before the next taste of full international action, when New Zealand took on Papua New Guinea in a World Cup group match in 1995. Five years later, England took on Russia, also in a World Cup fixture, winning by a 76-4 margin.

Although the ground has never hosted a full international between England and Australia, Great Britain took on New Zealand in June 2006, with no less than eight St Helens players in the home side.

Willie Talau and Vinnie Anderson were also drafted into the Kiwi squad, which contained largely overseas-based players.

The Brits won without too much trouble (46-14), with Paul Sculthorpe’s short reign as captain sadly truncated through a knee injury.

Sean Long rattled up a fabulous 20-point haul in the biggest-ever home victory over their illustrious opponents. James Graham also impressed with a brace of touchdowns, yet the honour of scoring the last international try at Knowsley Road went to New Zealand’s Henry Fa’afili, in the 80th minute!

I wonder who will score the last-ever competitive try on our ground in 2010?