Whitehaven R.L.F.C.

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Whitehaven 2010 RLFC
Whitehaven RL logo.svg
Club information
Full nameWhitehaven Rugby League Football Club
ColoursHaven colours.svg
Founded2010; 12 years ago (2010)
Current details
CoachJonty Gorley
CompetitionBetfred Championship
2021 season6th
Rugby football current event.png Current season
Home colours
Away colours
Championship1 (2005 (old club))
League 11 (2019)
Most capped417 - John McKeown
Highest points scorer2,133 - John McKeown

Whitehaven 2010 R.L.F.C. is a professional rugby league club playing in Whitehaven in west Cumbria. They play in Betfred Championship after winning Betfred League 1 in 2019. Their stadium is called the Recreation Ground (known locally as the Recre).

Their nicknames are 'Haven' or the 'Marras' (a local dialect word for 'mates'). Their mascot is a lion called "Pride". Between 1997 and 2003 they were known as Whitehaven Warriors.

Their local rivals are Workington Town.



Rugby league in Cumbria can trace its roots back over 100 years to the formation of the Northern Union. Whitehaven had its own team, Whitehaven Recreation, which competed in the Challenge Cup in the first decade of the 20th century.[citation needed]

Whitehaven RLFC was formed at a meeting held in the Miners' Welfare Club at Kells from the Whitehaven Miners' Welfare team in 1948 and shortly afterwards were admitted into the Northern Rugby Football Union by just three votes. Whitehaven took over the Miners' Welfare lease at the Recreation Ground. In their first game Haven beat Hull F.C. 5–0. There was a "disappointing" turnout of only 9,000 because of the pouring rain; in those days the supporters' club had 4,000 members. The early Whitehaven team were nicknamed "the Colliers" because of the Miners' Welfare connection.[citation needed]

In a Britain that still was still recovering from wartime rationing and austerity Whitehaven gradually picked itself up. Billy Little came to the Recreation Ground in 1950 as coach at a time when the fledgling Haven club were struggling to compete in the professional league. His tenure as coach signalled an era of progress and improvement. In 1951, the first of a long line of players from Australasia joined Haven as Neville Emery became player-coach. Under his guidance the club built a team that could compete with the best.[citation needed]

On Saturday 20 October 1956, Whitehaven defeated the Australian tourists 14–11 before a crowd of 10,917 at the Recreation Ground. Later that season the club came within minutes of a Wembley appearance when they lost 10–9 to Leeds in a Challenge Cup semi-final before a 50,000 crowd at the Odsal Stadium, featuring players such as the legendary Dick Huddart and full back John McKeown. The end of that season saw Emery return home to be replaced by Edward Gibson, who rebuilt the team, and in 1959/60 the club finished 6th in the league their highest ever position.[citation needed]

1960s and onwards

The club's record attendance was set in 1960 when 18,650 spectators turned up for a third round Challenge Cup game against Wakefield Trinity. Despite this, the 1960s were a period of decline as the club struggled on the field, though in 1965 the club defeated the touring New Zealanders 12–5, the winning try scored by John Coupe. It wasn't until 1970 that the club emerged from this lean spell. Under the coaching of Sol Roper they topped the league table for part of the 1969/70 season. Once again the club defeated the game's top clubs like St. Helens, Wigan and Bradford Northern at the Recreation Ground.[citation needed]

Jeff Bawden in 1971/72, his first season as head coach, was able to take Whitehaven to Central Park and beat Wigan on their own patch for the first time in Whitehaven's history. The club progressed over the next few years and in 1973 acquired floodlights. However success was once again denied at the last hurdle as the club suffered semi-final defeats in both the Lancashire County Cup and the John Player Cup.[citation needed]

Phil Kitchin became coach in 1980. Two promotions to the top division came in the 1980s, and during this period the club produced a batch of internationals in scrum half Arnold 'Boxer' Walker, forward Vince Fox and centre Vince Gribbin. Kitchen was sacked in 1981 and Arnold Walker became player-coach before also being sacked as coach.[1]

By the end of the 1980s the club found itself back in Division Two.

Whitehaven faced a financial crisis in 1992. Eleven local businessmen, Copeland Council and Albright & Wilson joined forces to form Whitehaven 1992 Ltd, the holding company which owns 70 per cent of the shares.[2]

Summer era

When Super League was proposed Whitehaven were supposed to merge with Barrow, Carlisle and Workington Town to form a Cumbria club to be based at Workington, that would take part in the new summer competition. This was successfully resisted.[citation needed]

Whitehaven Warriors ended 1996 one place above the relegation positions. The appointment of Kiwi coaches Kurt Sorensen and Stan Martin brought about a revival at the club with Haven finishing third in Division One in 1997 and reaching the play-off semi-finals only to lose to Hull F.C. The club adopted the name Whitehaven Warriors during that season.[citation needed]

Martin quit as coach in summer 1998, Colin Armstrong took temporary charge of Whitehaven[3] before Edgar took over.

The merger issue resurfaced in 2000, Whitehaven were so heavily in debt that a merger with Workington seemed the only means of survival.[4] However, the board of directors rejected a merger proposal with Workington Town and then resigned en masse.[5]

Paul Cullen arrived as coach in September 2000 taking over from Kevin Tamati. This heralded upward progression for Whitehaven. The club made steady progress and earned a place in National League 1 for 2003. Cullen left in August 2002 to manage Warrington. Peter Smith took over as coach with help from Peter Roe[6] before Steve McCormack was appointed in 2004. Whitehaven dropped the Warriors epithet and went back to being plain Whitehaven.

In 2004, they were undefeated at home in the league and made it to the semi-final of the Arriva Trains Cup losing to the eventual winners Leigh Centurions. They also narrowly lost out on promotion to Super League after losing 32–16 in extra time to Leigh in the National League One grand final. The following year despite Castleford being red hot favourites for promotion Whitehaven managed to win their first piece of silverware when he took the National League One League Leader's trophy, however they were unable to take this success into the grand final, where they were heavily beaten by Castleford.

Steve McCormack left to manage Widnes and was replaced by Dave Rotheram in November 2005. In 2006, Haven finished 4th and reached the National League 1 play-offs, only to be beaten 24–20 by Steve McCormack's Widnes in a hard fought semi-final. They were knocked out of the Northern Rail Cup at the quarter-final stage by Hull Kingston Rovers who would eventually be promoted to the Engage Super League that season.

In late 2006 they became the first ever winners of the pre-season Ike Southward Trophy, beating neighbours Workington Town 18–6 at the Recreation Ground. Haven made it to the final of the Northern Rail Cup for the first time in 2007 but lost 54–6 to Widnes.[7]

Whitehaven appointed Paul Crarey as their new coach in October 2007 as Dave Rotheram left to manage Workington Town.

In early 2008 Gerard Stokes was offered the job of coaching Haven, after coach Paul Crarey left the club citing personal health issues.[8] Stokes led Haven to the play-offs during his first season in charge. However a disastrous 13-game losing streak saw the club relegated to Championship 1 at the end of the 2010 season.[9] Following relegation Haven went into administration and re-formed under the name 'Whitehaven 2010' as a consequence Haven were deducted nine points for next season's Championship 1.

Club legend and record try-scorer David Seeds was appointed head coach and started the season unbeaten, wiping out the nine-point deduction in the first few games but fell short of promotion being knocked out in the play-offs by Doncaster. Following the game David Seeds resigned as coach and Les Ashe resigned as assistant coach.

Towards the end of 2011 Haven appointed Don Gailer from the North Devils in Australia as new head coach, with the remit being promotion to the Championship. Haven finished 4th, thus securing the final promotion berth after Doncaster, Barrow and local rivals Workington Town. Gailer was sacked just two weeks after securing promotion following a rift between the coach and Haven players.[10]

In September 2012 Haven announced that ex Castleford coach Dave Woods would coach the side in 2013,[11] Haven immediately set about strengthening for 2013 signing prop Paul Jackson from Super League side Castleford. Prior to the start of the season Haven announced a dual registration link-up with Super League side St Helens, during the season Ade Gardner, Paul Clough, Tommy Makinson, Carl Forster, Jordan Hand, Joe Greenwood, Anthony Walker and Adam Swift would turn out for the club with Swift in particular impressing from fullback. Haven started well, winning the opening two games before losing at home to Leigh Centurions in front of the Premier Sports cameras. Haven would finally break a 7-game losing streak against local rivals Workington Town winning 29–18 on Sunday 23 June before securing a place in the Championship for the following season.

Steve Deakin was appointed as head coach in September 2014. A mass exodus of players followed; out of a squad of twenty-four, eighteen left and Haven were left with six players Deakin resigned for personal reasons a week before the first game of the season and player Brett Seymour took temporary charge.[12] James Coyle was then appointed as player-coach on a caretaker basis with Brett Seymour.[13]

Whitehaven would play in the Championship for the first time in four years after they took the 2019 League One title with 32 points from 20 games. In the 2021 Championship season, Whitehaven finished sixth on the table and qualified for the playoffs. In the first week of the playoffs, they were defeated 24-20 by Halifax which ended their season.[14]

2022 squad

Whitehaven RLFC 2022 Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coach

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)

Updated: 30 January 2022
Source(s): 2021 Squad Numbers

2021 transfers


Player Club Contract Date
Italy Ryan King Cronulla Sharks 1 Year August 2020
England Liam Cooper Widnes Vikings 2 Years September 2020
New Zealand Nikau Williams Newtown Jets 1 Year September 2020
Scotland Lachlan Walmsley South Sydney Rabbitohs 1 Year September 2020
England Andrew Dawson Workington Town 1 Year September 2020
Malta Dean Zammitt Wigan St Patricks 1 Year September 2020
England Dylan Morris Kiama Knights 1 Year October 2020
England Sean Croston Newcastle Thunder 1 Year October 2020
Republic of Ireland Gregg McNally Leigh Centurions 1 Year December 2020
England James Worthington Wigan Warriors 1 Year February 2021
England Andy Thornley Leigh Centurions 1 Year March 2021
Scotland Oscar Thomas Swinton Lions Trial March 2021


Player Club Contract Date
Scotland Lachlan Walmsley Halifax Panthers 2 Years October 2024
England Sean Croston Midland Hurricanes 1 Year October 2023
Papua New Guinea Jesse Joe Parker Retired N/A N/A
England Marc Shackley Retired N/A N/A
England Kris Coward Retired N/A N/A
Republic of Ireland Gregg McNally Rochdale Hornets 1 Year October 2023
Scotland Oscar Thomas Workington Town 1 Year October 2023


Players earning international caps while at Whitehaven


Haven immortals (Hall of Fame)

1. John McKeown circa-1950s
2. Bill Smith (No. 2) circa-1950s
3. Vince Gribbin
4. Eppie Gibson
5. Syd Lowdon (No. 5) circa-1950s
6. Phil Kitchin circa-1956-65
7. Arnold 'Boxer' Walker
8. Bill McAlone (Testimonial match 1960)
9. Aaron Lester
10. John Tembey circa-1950s
11. Bill Holliday
12. Dick Huddart
13. Gordon Cottier
14. Billy Garratt (No. 3) circa-1950s
15. Geoff Robinson (No. 13)
16. Dave Watson circa-1980s
17. Les Moore (No. 10) circa-1963-65
18. Matt Jimmy Dalton (No. 2)

Other notable players

Past coaches

Also see Category:Whitehaven R.L.F.C. coaches.


Super League era

Season League Play-offs Challenge Cup Other competitions Name Tries Name Points
Division P W D L F A Pts Pos Top try scorer Top point scorer
1996 Division One 20 5 1 14 328 546 11 9th R4
1997 Division One 20 11 1 8 436 398 23 4th R4
1998 Division One 30 13 0 17 636 657 26 8th R4
1999 Northern Ford Premiership 28 16 0 12 651 620 32 8th QF
2000 Northern Ford Premiership 28 11 1 16 533 674 23 11th R4
2001 Northern Ford Premiership 28 15 1 12 608 419 31 10th R5
2002 Northern Ford Premiership 27 15 1 11 647 600 31 8th R5
2003 National League One 18 5 5 8 443 438 15 6th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R4
2004 National League One 18 14 0 4 552 312 28 2nd Lost in Final QF
2005 National League One 18 16 0 2 648 307 32 1st Lost in Final R4
2006 National League One 18 12 1 5 516 408 25 4th Lost in Semi Final R5
2007 National League One 18 11 0 7 474 342 38 4th Lost in Semi Final R5 Championship Cup RU
2008 National League One 18 10 0 8 420 399 32 5th Lost in Preliminary Final R5
2009 Championship 20 12 0 8 565 567 39 5th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R3
2010 Championship 20 4 0 16 281 707 16 10th R4
2011 Championship 1 20 13 2 5 566 425 36 6th R3
2012 Championship 1 18 12 0 6 549 421 37 4th Lost in Semi Final R4
2013 Championship 26 11 0 15 485 774 37 9th R4
2014 Championship 26 13 0 13 592 666 45 9th R3
2015 Championship 23 7 0 16 418 671 14 10th R4
Championship Shield 30 10 0 20 618 921 20 6th
2016 Championship 23 5 1 17 367 720 11 12th R4
Championship Shield 30 8 1 21 571 945 17 7th
2017 League 1 22 17 1 4 656 349 35 3rd Lost in Final R5
2018 League 1 26 16 0 10 702 529 32 6th R6
2019 League 1 20 15 2 3 582 283 32 1st N/A[a] R4 1895 Cup R1
2020 Championship[b] 5 0 0 5 54 146 0 14th R4
2021 Championship 22 12 1 9 502 524 25 6th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R4[c] 1895 Cup R1


Winners (1): 2005
Championship Leaders' Shield
Winners (1): 2005
Winners (1): 2019
Winners (2): 1905–06, 1906–07
Winners (1): 1905–06


  • U23's League Leaders (1) : 2010
  • U23's Grand Final Winners (1): 2010


Club records


  • Highest score: 86–6 vs Highfield 1995
  • Heaviest defeat: 106–8 vs Wigan 12 May 2008
  • Record attendance: 18,650, vs Wakefield Trinity 1960[21]



  1. ^ League leaders do not compete in playoffs
  2. ^ The 2020 Championship was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Statistics shown are those at time of abandonment and are not official.
  3. ^ Officially round 2 due to the competitions temporary restructure in 2021.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "News & Star | Sport | Haven | Council cash chief signs for Haven". Archived from the original on 8 September 2012.
  3. ^ "News & Star | Sport | RL | Buck tapped up over Raiders' job". Archived from the original on 4 September 2012.
  4. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times". Thetimes.co.uk. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  5. ^ "BBC SPORT – RUGBY LEAGUE – Whitehaven pull plug on merger". News.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Whitehaven move for Roe". News.bbc.co.uk. 17 August 2002. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Widnes seal Northern Rail Cup win". News.bbc.co.uk. 15 July 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  8. ^ Stokes Pleased to be back in charge The Press, 26 April 2008.
  9. ^ "Coach Stokes to leave Whitehaven". News.bbc.co.uk. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Whitehaven sack coach Don Gailer two weeks after promotion". Bbc.co.uk. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Whitehaven appoint ex-Castleford boss Dave Woods as head coach". Bbc.co.uk. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Whitehaven: Brett Seymour in charge after Steve Deakin resigns". Bbc.co.uk. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Whitehaven appoint James Coyle as head coach for 2015 season". Bbc.co.uk. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Halifax Panthers 24 Whitehaven 20: Hosts hold off second-half fightback to advance in Championship play-offs". www.halifaxcourier.co.uk.
  15. ^ "Internationals – Whitehaven Rugby League". Whitehaven. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Whitehaven News | Home | Haven hero Trackie who helped to defeat migh…". Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
  18. ^ "Gary Charlton is unveiled as new Whitehaven RL coach". News and Star. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Club Records & Honours – Whitehaven Rugby League". Whitehaven. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Workington Town win back Ike Southward Memorial Trophy after victory over Whitehaven". News and Star. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Club Records & Honours – Whitehaven Rugby League". Whitehaven. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Club Records & Honours – Whitehaven Rugby League". Whitehaven. Retrieved 13 November 2019.


External links

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