The Story So Far


Club Historian Graham Morris revisits over a century of history at The Willows

1901 (21 December) First match held at The Willows, Salford defeating Swinton 2-0 with a drop-goal from recent signing Jimmy Lomas. The attendance was 16,981. Their previous ground was at New Barnes, adjoining the area now known as Salford Quays.

1902 (15 November) The Willows staged its first county fixture, Lancashire beating Yorkshire 13-0. The attendance was 14,000. In total, ten county matches have taken place there, the last in 1974. Salford’s former New Barnes hosted a Lancashire v Yorkshire match in 1898.

1903 (5 September) Welsh centre Willie Thomas made his debut for Salford at Batley. Taking into account 57 ‘unofficial’ friendly matches during the First World War period he is the only player to make over 500 appearances for the club. He was also captain for over ten seasons – a club record – and later became Chairman.

1904 (30 April) The Northern Union (now Rugby League) Challenge Cup Final was held at The Willows for the first time, Warrington beating Halifax 8-3. The Yorkshire side kept Warrington waiting 12 minutes before entering the field for the kick-off!  A second final was hosted in 1911 when Broughton Rangers produced a shock 4-0 win over Wigan.

1905 (21 January) Pocket sized Welsh half-back Dai John made his Salford debut at Leeds after signing from Penygraig rugby union club. At just over five feet tall his durability defied his size and he played over 450 matches for Salford, the last being in 1922.

1906 (28 April) Salford lost 0-4 to Bradford in the Northern Union Challenge Cup Final at Headingley. Salford seemed destined to be the bridesmaid but never the bride as it was their fourth defeat in four finals, the others in 1900, 1902 and 1903. Despite their success, Bradford resigned to take up soccer in 1907, Bradford Northern replacing them.

1907 (2 February) Cumbrian centre/half-back Jimmy Lomas scored 39 points (5 tries, 12 goals) in the 78-0 win over Liverpool City at The Willows. It was a record haul for a league championship fixture that stood until 1992 when Dean Marwood got 42 for Workington Town.

1908 (2 May) Hunslet met Oldham at The Willows in the first ever drawn Championship Final (7-7). The Yorkshire team won the replay to become the first club to complete the famed ‘All Four Cups’ feat of Championship, Challenge Cup, County Championship and County Cup.

1909 (1 May) Salford held their second, and last, Championship Final when Wigan overcame Oldham 7-3. Before the match a trick cyclist entertained the crowd despite being refused permission due to the poor state of the pitch. After a chase, a police officer threw a flagpole into his wheel spokes and he was led away in handcuffs!

1910 (June-August) The first ever tour to Australia and New Zealand was undertaken by the 13-a-side code with Salford’s Jimmy Lomas as tour captain, the first of three Salford players to be honoured in this way. Gus Risman (1946) and Chris Hesketh (1974) were the others.

1911 (August) Joe Pugsley was signed by Salford from Cardiff rugby union club, the second Wales international to join the Reds following Jack Rhapps in 1897.

1912 (14 September) Napier-born New Zealand forward Harry Goldsmith made his debut for Salford at The Willows against Widnes. He played 95 times and was a member of the club’s 1914 championship winning team. He was the second overseas player to appear for Salford, full-back Joe Lavery, a 1907-08 New Zealand tourist, preceding him in 1910.

1913 (August) Mr G.C. Swire, who had been appointed as Official Receiver in 1912 due to Salford’s severe financial problems, set up a six-man advisory committee to look after the welfare of the players. In August 1914 the club was reborn as the Salford Football Club (1914) Limited, and is still registered under that name today.

1914 (25 April) Salford won the Championship Final at Headingley, the clubs first major honour, by beating Huddersfield 5-3. It was a big upset, the legendary ‘Team of All the Talents’ undone with a defensive strategy formulated by Salford captain Willie Thomas after travelling over the Pennines to spy on Huddersfield’s free scoring side!

1915 (9 October) Jimmy Burgess played his first match for Salford at St Helens during the First World War to begin an unusual record in that his first 54 appearances were all in friendlies. The Salford born forward had signed for Runcorn prior to the war but played throughout the conflict for his local club. He transferred to Salford in February 1919, playing his first competitive game for them the same month.

1916 (October-December) Salford went through a run of seven consecutive matches during which all their opponents failed to score.

1917 (12 May) Full-back Harry Launce played in Salford’s 31st and final match of the 1916-17 season at Broughton Rangers, making him an ever present for the campaign. He was the only Salford player to achieve this during the period of the First World War when team selection was often a last minute process.

1918 (26 December) Veteran forward Billy Brown made a one-match comeback for Salford in a wartime friendly with Broughton Rangers at The Willows. He had retired over ten years earlier after 277 appearances that began in 1895-96, the clubs last season as members of the Rugby Union.

1919 (10 May) Following the cessation of hostilities, The Willows provided the setting for the first peacetime final, Rochdale Hornets despatching Oldham 22-0 to win the Lancashire Cup, watched by a crowd 18,617.

1920 (July) Salford staged its first ‘Annual Athletic Sports of Salford Football Club’. From its inception until the early 1930s, The Willows had an athletic and cycling track around the playing area and held regular meetings, the Salford Harriers using it as a home track.

1921 (July) G.W. Baker set new two and three mile cinder track records during a motor cycle meeting at The Willows. Motor cycle events were occasional hosted in addition to the staple diet of athletics and cycling.

1922 (14 January) The Willows staged its first ever Test Match when Great Britain beat Australia 6-0, watched by 21,000, clinching the series 2-1. Pencilled in for ‘Manchester’ it was reported that Old Trafford, Maine Road and The Cliff (then Broughton Rangers ground) was also considered as a venue. The only other Test held at The Willows was in the 1971 Great Britain-New Zealand series.

1923 (29 September) Jimmy Lomas played in his last match for Salford aged 44, at Wakefield Trinity. It was his third spell with Salford. Having left for Oldham in 1911, he appeared in several wartime games in 1917 and six more in 1923 when he was also a coach at the club.

1924 (22 November) Oldham beat St Helens Recreation 10-0 in the Lancashire Cup Final at The Willows. It was the seventh county final to be held on the ground since 1912 but the next would not be until 1979.

1925 (January) Despite struggling near the bottom of the league throughout most of the 1920s, Salford managed to entice Wales rugby union international Jack Gore to The Willows. A robust loose-forward from the Blaina club, he later played for Oldham.

1926 (27 March) The Oldham versus Wigan Highfield Rugby League Challenge Cup semi-final took place at The Willows. It was the sixth and last to be held there.

1927 (15 October) Welsh prop forward Billy Williams makes his first appearance after signing from Crumlin rugby union club. At the end of his inaugural 1927-28 season he was picked for the tour of Australia and New Zealand. He later became a director of the club.

1928 (1 August) Lance Todd takes up his new job as the Salford team manager following an advert placed in the Salford City Reporter. The former Wigan played had previously been secretary of North Shore Golf Club and planning to return to New Zealand, delaying due to his wife’s illness. Under Todd Salford became the outstanding team of the 1930s.

1929 (31 August) Gus Risman makes his debut in the match against Barrow at The Willows at the age of 17. Previously with the Cardiff Scottish rugby union club, he toured Australia and New Zealand three times and is considered by many historians to be Salford’s greatest ever player.

1930 (July) Two small dressing rooms were built under the Main Stand on either side of a narrow tunnel that cut through the stand from the playing field. Teams used them at half-time instead of remaining on the field as before, the Pavilion dressing rooms being too distant for what was then a five-minute break.

1931 (21 November) Salford win the Lancashire Cup for the first time by beating Swinton 10-8 at The Cliff in front of a crowd of 26,471. Having been runners-up in the same competition in 1929 it was their first trophy for 17 years.

1932 (April) The Salford Schools Championship final took place at The Willows between St Ambrose (Seedley) and Stowell Memorial School. It was watched by 10,000 people.

1933 (29 April) Salford capture the Rugby League Championship by beating Swinton 15-5 in the final at Central Park, Wigan. A disappointing 18,000 crowd was blamed by both clubs on the match not being held at the more ‘convenient’ Broughton Rangers ground. Salford was champions twice more in the 1930s (1936-37, 1938-39).

1934 (October-November) The legend of the Red Devils was born when Salford thrilled French crowds on a 6-match tour, earning the title ‘Les Diables Rouges’. The opening game was in Paris on Sunday 21 October, following an overnight ferry journey from Folkestone to Dunkirk, having beaten Wigan 21-12 in the Lancashire Cup Final the previous afternoon.

1935 (May-August) Salford turned its attention to baseball during the summer as members of the National Baseball League. Matches were staged at The Willows with the home base at the Willows Road/Kennedy Road corner. Several of Salford’s players took part including Gus Risman. The team was called the Salford Reds!

1936 (17 October) For a third consecutive year, Salford win the Lancashire Cup, defeating Wigan 5-2 at Wilderspool, Warrington. Wigan had also been runners-up on both previous occasions.

1937 (30 October) The Australian touring team was beaten by Salford 11-8 at The Willows. Despite heavy rain that created muddy playing conditions, 12,000 attended. In eleven meetings with the Kangaroos the Reds have only defeated them twice, the other occasion being 1933.

1938 (7 May) For the only time in its history Salford won the Rugby League Challenge Cup by outscoring Barrow 7-4 at Wembley. The match was decided with a late try from young Welsh centre Albert Gear despite him being slightly concussed after earlier colliding with team mate Harold Osbaldestin.

1939 (6 May) Salford became the first rugby league club to make successive visits to Wembley but were well beaten 20-3 by Halifax. The Salford side was ravaged by influenza, last year’s hero Albert Gear confined to bed. The epidemic was blamed on using a draughty cowshed with no proper washing facilities after training on a farm.

1940 (21 December) The last match at The Willows, prior to closing down for the remainder of the Second World War, took place against Broughton Rangers. In the evening the city suffered a terrible night of aerial bombardment which included damage to the Pavilion and some sections of the Main Stand.

1941 The Civil Defence requisitioned The Willows, installing facilities (including baths) under the popular stand for attending to victims of gas raids. Thankfully none occurred but, following the war, the area was converted to changing rooms to replace those that had been in the damaged Pavilion. Those changing rooms have continued to be used until the present.

1942 (14 November) Lance Todd died in a road accident on Manchester Road, Oldham, on his way home from watching a match. As Oldham did not play that day, it was probably the Yorkshire Cup semi-final between Dewsbury (who included four Salford ‘guest’ players) and visitors Wigan.

1943 (22 May) Salford wingman Barney Hudson captained Dewsbury to victory over Halifax in the Championship Final second leg, completing a wartime double after winning the Rugby League Challenge Cup. Dewsbury, managed by future BBC television commentator Eddie Waring, were later stripped of their title though fielding an ineligible player in the play-off semi-final.

1944 (January) Salford captain Gus Risman, a lieutenant in the Army and on leave from Italy, was refused permission to ‘guest’ for Dewsbury because they already had six Salford players, the maximum allowed from one club.

1945 (25 August) Salford played their first match after the war against Castleford, winning 10-0 at The Willows. Hundreds of supporters gave up their summer weekends to help put the derelict looking ground back into good order.

1946 (May-August) The first post-war tour of Australia and New Zealand was undertaken with Gus Risman as captain. Because of a shortage of available vessels the party travelled out on the Australian aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable.

1947 (18 October) Full-back Bert Chapman, signed earlier in the year from Featherstone Rovers, landed a late 52-yard drop-goal at The Willows to beat Wakefield Trinity 10-9.

1948 (6 March) Hooker Bert Day played his last match for Salford after a club record 488 appearances, a figure that was not surpassed until the 1980s. A Wales rugby union international, he was signed in 1931 from Newport. His sister married the movie star Ray Milland.

1949 (June) Three-quarter Tom Danby joins Salford from Harlequins to become the first England rugby union international recruited by the club. An instance success, he was a tourist in 1950.

1950 (19 April) Salford lost 3-38 at St Helens. It was the fourth consecutive League defeat and meant Salford could not overhaul fourth placed Halifax in the 29-team table. Salford finished fifth on scoring difference to miss out on a top-4 play-off spot but it was their highest post-war finish until 1973-74.

1951 (17 March) Salford lost 4-8 to Warrington in a third round Rugby League Challenge Cup tie. Played at The Willows, the crowd was reported in the press as 28,000, the upper limit that had been set for the match. If correct it would be a ground record, surpassing the 26,470 that saw Salford play Warrington in the 1937 competition, but no official figure survives to confirm the exact attendance.

1952 (June) Salford won a four-team summer competition at Stanley Park in Blackpool. Staged as part of Blackpool Corporation’s Festival of Sport Fortnight, the Reds eliminated Barrow in the semi-final and then defeated Doncaster 26-7 in the final.

1953 The Red Devils Association was founded by four of the players who took part in Salford’s historic tour of France in 1934 when the ‘Red Devils’ legend was born; Barney Hudson, Emlyn Jenkins, Gus Risman and Billy Williams. From 1957 the Association provided a silver cup for presentation to the winner of the Lance Todd Trophy at Wembley.

1954 (25 December) Trialist loose forward ‘McDonald’ played for Salford at Wigan. Two weeks later he appeared in a rugby union international in Paris representing Scotland against France. He was Hugh Duffy and at the beginning of February 1955 he was back at Salford under his own name to make the second of his 241 appearances for the Reds.

1955 (26 November) Salford appeared on live television for the first time when the second half of their Saturday afternoon match against the New Zealand tourists was broadcast by the BBC. Salford had to wear their second choice jersey of white with a red band to help distinguish the teams on the monochrome sets of that time.

1956 (February) A popular move with supporters was the return of Gus Risman to Salford as team manager, having achieved great success in charge of Workington Town. During his four years back at the club he oversaw some significant signings including Syd Lowdon from Whitehaven in 1957 for a club record £5,250.


1957 (9 March) Cumbrian centre Les Bettinson made his first appearance for Salford in a home match with Batley. He was to enjoy a long and distinguished career as a player, team captain, coach and director of the club. He was also the Great Britain team manager, including the 1988 tour, a year when he also became The Rugby Football League’s first president.

1958 (5 November) Salford met Leeds on Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford in a match postponed from October. It was, effectively, Salford’s first ever ‘home’ match under floodlight. Leeds won 22-17, the attendance being 8,373. A grateful Salford Board presented Manchester United with an engraved silver plate to mark the occasion. The plate has recently been on display in the Old Trafford museum as part of that ground’s centenary exhibition.

1959 (25 March) On a Wednesday evening at The Willows Salford missed out on their first Challenge Cup semi-final appearance since the 1930s by losing to Leigh 4-6 in a replay. The crowd was reported as 18,000 for the 5pm kick-off but, with the match already started and Willows Road jammed with people, thousands more were admitted free through the main gates.

1960 (January) A proposal to create a Manchester rugby league club at the former White City Stadium on Chester Road received strong opposition from Salford and Swinton. Their protests were renewed when a match was staged there between a Rugby League XIII and the New Zealand tourists in September 1961 and the idea was subsequently dropped.

1961 (August) Salford signed the Wales international fly-half Ken Richards from Bridgend rugby union club but he only played for three seasons after struggling to adapt to rugby league defences. Noted for his drop-goals, he would often take penalties and conversions that way rather than place the ball. One such penalty, against Doncaster in September 1961, covered 55 yards.

1962 (March-September) Salford hit an all-time low with 19 consecutive defeats. Covering two seasons, it is the worst run in the clubs history.

1963 (September) Brian Snape takes over as Chairman of Salford and over the next 15 years revitalises the club both on and off the field. It could have been a different story as the club minute book of the time shows that, in early 1967, he resigned as Chairman due to a boardroom dispute. The following week the issues were clearly resolved because he resumed his position.

1964 (15 February) The receipts for Salford’s home match against Widnes are awarded to long serving groundsman Frank Betteridge as a testimonial. Betteridge was also the ‘artist’ who created the action drawing that appeared on the Salford programme cover during the 1950s and early 1960s.

1965 (August) Widnes back-row forward Arthur Hughes joined Salford, staying just under two years at the club during which time he was appointed captain. Costing £5,000, he was the first of many ‘big money’ signing made by Salford under the chairmanship of Brian Snape.

1966 (11 March) Salford staged their first floodlit match at The Willows, beating Widnes 7-5 and beginning an era of Friday night rugby at the ground. With the Salford Football and Social Club not yet completed, a large marquee was erected on the adjoining Weaste cricket ground to accommodate over 400 special guests including ex-players and local dignitaries.

1967 (20 October) Wales and British Lions rugby union fly-half David Watkins made his debut for Salford in a blaze of publicity. He scored a try in the 12-6 win over Oldham watched by a crowd of 10,117, more than treble the number at Salford’s previous home match.

1968 (5 May) The first Sunday match was held at The Willows, a friendly fixture against French side Cavaillon. Mindful of the Lord’s Day Observance Society, clubs did not charge admission for Sunday games, and instead sold a single sheet programme for the equivalent amount on entry through the turnstile.

1969 (17 May) Salford appeared in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley after a gap of 30 years, losing 6-11 to Castleford. Salford was denied a potential 9-3 lead just before half-time when Chris Hesketh had a try disallowed for a ‘double movement’, a decision he disputes to this day.

1970 (May-July) Chris Hesketh and Johnny Ward became the first Salford players since 1954 to tour Australia and New Zealand. In 1974 Hesketh returned as tour captain accompanied by five Salford team mates.

1971 (22 October) Salford beat the New Zealand tourists for the first time after five previous defeats. In one of the most amazing turnarounds seen at The Willows, Salford led 26-0 at half-time but then had to hang on for a 31-30 win in a wonderfully entertaining game.

1972 (December) The Salford Football and Social Club, having developed into a leading cabaret venue featuring top name acts, is renamed as the Willows Variety Centre.

1973 (29 April) David Watkins kicked his 221st goal of the season in the match against Rochdale Hornets at The Willows to create a world record that still stands today. The shock 10-14 play-off defeat to Rochdale left Watkins three points short of another world record; the 496 points scored by Lewis Jones of Leeds in 1956-57.

1974 (15 April) Salford won their first Rugby League Championship since 1938-39. Having beaten Wigan away 21-12 in the afternoon, club Chairman Brian Snape and many Salford supporters travelled to Naughton Park in the evening to cheer Widnes to their 12-9 victory over St Helens, a result that confirmed the title.

1975 (November) The terracing in front of the North Stand (opened 1971) was rebuilt, the new steps having sufficient height and depth to allow seating to be installed. Seats were never added and the new terracing has continued to provide one of the best standing views in rugby league.

1976 (22 May) Salford lost to St Helens 2-15 in the Premiership Trophy Final (forerunner of the Grand Final) at Swinton. For Salford, who was the 1975-76 First Division champions, it was the last major final of the Brian Snape era.

1977 (24 April) Tragedy struck at The Willows when the Leeds half-back Chris Sanderson is fatally injured. The match is abandoned in the 38th minute and a stunned crowd leave in silence.

1978 (May) Alex Murphy, the former Great Britain scrum-half and one of the most enduring characters in rugby league, was a surprise appointment as Salford coach. Years earlier he had famously referred to Salford’s expensively built team as ‘The Quality Street Gang’.

1979 (14 October) Salford’s home League fixture with Widnes was designated as the club’s ‘Centenary Match’. Watched by 11,982, the result was 16-16, Salford playing in their original jersey colours of red, amber and black hoops. In actual fact Salford was founded in 1873 as Cavendish, changing their name to Salford in 1879.

1980 (September) The club, then under the chairmanship of Keith Snape, sold the Willows Variety Centre to brewers Greenall Whitley to reduce overheads as financial pressures grow. The Variety Centre, which once made huge profits, had lost £10,000 in 1979-80.

1981 (January) Salford winger Keith Fielding won the British Superstars competition on BBC television and also the ‘Champion of Champions’ contest. Fielding scored a Salford club record 46 tries in 1973-74.

1982 (3 January) John Wilkinson took over from Keith Snape as the Chairman of Salford. Prior to the home fixture with Oldham long-serving match compere Ron Tierney caught supporters by surprise in announcing the new Chairman. Still in charge after 29 years Wilkinson is easily Salford’s longest serving Chairman, ahead of Brian Snape (1963-1978) and Charles Riley (1927-1940)

1983 (21 August) Wingman Maurice Richards played his last match for Salford, scoring the final try of his career in a 14-16 defeat to Wigan at The Willows. He finished with two club records; most appearances (498 plus two as substitute) and most tries (296), records that still stand today. His final try was also the first 4-point try to be scored by a Salford player.

1984 (October) The Willows Lifeline Society weekly draw was launched during a highly publicised evening at The Willows Variety Centre. Bolton Wanderers’ soccer legend Nat Lofthouse addressed Salford supporters from the stage  to explain how the Wanderers had benefited from such a scheme.

1985 (10 March) Salford won at Southend Invicta 56-12 in front of just 114 spectators, possibly the smallest attendance for a first team match involving the Reds.

1986 (July-August) Salford participated in an 8-a-side touch rugby competition that included most of the senior clubs. The Reds won after beating Featherstone Rovers in the final at Elland Road, Leeds.

1987 (September) The club transfer record was broken twice. Scrum-half David Cairns arrived from Barrow for £35,000 (fixed by tribunal) followed by forward Mick Worrall from Oldham for £55,000. Even more sensational that month was the capture of Australian international full-back Garry Jack.

1988 Two international rugby union stars are signed during the year; England stand-off Peter Williams from Orrell in March and Wales winger Adrian Hadley from Cardiff in September.

1989 (26 November) Salford unveiled a new £50,000 electronic scoreboard at the match with Sheffield Eagles. Situated above the Willows Variety Centre, it displays the teams and scorers and includes a ‘clock’ to indicate playing time.

1990 (29 September) Despite being in the Second Division Salford appeared in their second Lancashire Cup Final in three seasons, losing to Widnes 18-24 at Wigan.

1991 (12 May) Salford reached the Second Division Premiership Trophy Final at Old Trafford beating Halifax 27-20 in an exciting contest. They also won the 1990-91 Second Division Championship.

1992 (November) Wigan reserve stand-off, Steve Blakeley, joined Salford for £28,000. He went on to be the third highest point and goal scorer in the club’s history, David Watkins and Gus Risman leading in both categories.

1993 (July) Garry Jack became Salford’s first Australian coach. He replaced Kevin Tamati who had been the first New Zealander in charge since Lance Todd.

1994 (August) Salford signed New Zealand international Sam Panapa three months after he won the Harry Sunderland Trophy in Wigan’s 24-20 victory over Castleford in the Premiership Trophy Final at Old Trafford.

1995 (April) Plans for a Super League, to be played during the summer months from 1996, were announced. The proposal included merging several clubs, with Salford and Oldham joining forces as ‘Manchester’. When Salford visited Oldham for a match on Good Friday, 14 April, supporters of both clubs demonstrated against the idea by invading the pitch during the interval.

1996 (11 February) Salford beat Wigan 26-16 at The Willows to produce one of the Rugby League Challenge Cup’s biggest shocks. It brought to an end a record run of eight successive Wembley victories by Wigan.

1997 (8 June) Salford, during their inaugural Super League season, played in Australia for the first time, losing 8-50 at Adelaide Rams in the World Club Championship. They then visited the North Queensland Cowboys, both Australian clubs subsequently playing Salford at The Willows.

1998 (28 March) Salford suffered a massive disappointment by losing in the semi-final of the Rugby League Challenge Cup to Sheffield Eagles 18-22 having led 18-10 with twelve minutes remaining. Played at Headingley, it was Salford’s second consecutive appearance in the semi-finals.

1999 (18 July) The clubs first match as Salford City Reds took place against Gateshead Thunder at The Willows. In 1996, they had changed the name from Salford to Salford Reds.

2000 (25 June) Hooker Malcolm Alker captained the Salford City Reds for the first time at the age of 21 in the absence of club captain Darren Brown. Alker took over the role permanently in 2003.

2001 (11 February) Former Brisbane Broncos and Australian Test winger Michael Hancock made his Salford debut in a Rugby League Challenge Cup tie at Leigh.

2002 (May) Karl Harrison took over as coach but it is too late to stop Salford finishing bottom of Super League and suffering relegation to the National League.

2003 (23 March) Salford beat Gateshead Thunder at The Willows 100-12 in the National Cup, a club record score. Steve Blakeley’s 14 goals created another club record. Four days earlier Salford had won 90-8 at Gateshead, their highest score since 1907.

2004 Salford staged a dramatic recovery during the second half of the season to finish ninth in the Super League table, having lost nine of their first ten matches.

2005 (11 February) Salford commenced their Super League fixtures at Wigan Warriors, the City Reds giving debuts to former Warriors players in winger David Hodgson and scrum-half Luke Robinson.

2006 (8 September) The City Reds defeat Castleford Tigers 26-16 at The Willows to finish fifth in the League, qualifying for the Super League play-offs for the first time. It is the clubs highest position in a top division since coming fourth in 1979-80 in the old First Division.

2007 (June) Shaun McRae replaced Karl Harrison as Salford coach on a four and a half year contract. McRae is one of the most experienced coaches ever recruited by the club having held similar posts at St Helens, Gateshead Thunder, Hull FC and South Sydney.

2008 (July) Salford are one of 14 clubs awarded a three-year Super League franchise running from 2009 to 2011 after promotion and relegation to and from the top division is scrapped in a revolutionary move.

2009 (13 April) Salford City Reds beat Leeds Rhinos at Headingley 30-20 to produce one of the biggest surprises of the season. Salford had only defeated Leeds away twice since 1946, the last occasion being 1977.

2010 (July-September) Salford announced a host of big name signings for their final season at The Willows in 2011 including Luke Patten (from Canterbury Bulldogs), Chris Nero (Bradford Bulls), Vinnie Anderson (Warrington Wolves), Stephen Wild (Huddersfield Giants), Iafeta Palea’aesina and Phil Bailey (both Wigan Warriors), and Sean Gleeson (Wakefield Wildcats).

2011 The final countdown!