Made of Steel
In the 1980s, there wasn’t much provision for Women to play rugby in our town until in 1986, Warrington Rugby League Club put out an advert for players to start a Women’s team at Wilderspool. Unfortunately only 9 ladies turned up so not enough for a team and the project fizzled out.
However, a couple of players in this group with a real passion and desire to set up a women’s team didn’t want to take no for an answer and created their own posters which they put up at their workplaces and around town. Angela Potter and Bernie Mills. Supported by Carl Webb – a Warrington Men’s player at the time – his brother Stewart and their Dad Colin, they helped the ladies to build a team and supported a move from Wilderspool to Crosfields.
Bernie receives her Made of Steel award from Daryl Powell
In 1987 they played their first game as a Crosfields team but, proudly wearing a Warrington replica kit which they had bought themselves, they stepped out against Guiseley ladies in Leeds and this is where their league competition started. The success continued and this pioneering group of ladies pushed BARLA to get a Ladies team to compete in the British Coal 9’s tournament in 1987 at Central Park alongside the Men’s Competition.
In 1988 the Ladies played in the first ever Ladies Challenge Cup Final, where their Warrington/Crosfields team overcame the odds to win the Trophy. This now has a place in the Trophy Cabinet in the main reception, here at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Following this success, the Ladies had trials with Great Britain, heading over to Leeds hoping to be selected for the first ever Great Britain Ladies Tour to France in 1989. After a successful trial and being informed of their success on the day, the ladies queued up at the phone box on Padgate Lane to tell their families the good news.
Their efforts and hard work are celebrated as a milestone with the Heart & Sole award, not only for them but for women’s and girls’ rugby league in Warrington.
We recognise the players who have been before us, we appreciate and admire our current role models like Jodie Cunningham, Emily Rudge and too many more to mention and we celebrate the amazing future for the first time tonight for a sport that we love.
The Heart and Sole Winners for 2022 are those two passionate founders of that Warrington team – Angela Potter and Bernie Mills.
Both Bernie and Angela have instilled this love of our game into the next generation and beyond, Bernie is the mother of Ste Mills – current first team Performance Analysis – and both ladies continue to play in our Warrington Walking Rugby sessions. Congratulations to you both on your award, and thank you for all you’ve done to help shape the game, they truly have #WireDNA.
If you’d like to join our Walking Touch RL group who play on Thursdays at 6pm – indoor over winter – email firstname.lastname@example.org for joining details.
Press clipping from Warrington Guardian in 1989