The Recs have a unique sporting history which began as a rugby union club in 1878. As St.Helens Recreation they had the town’s first-ever international in Jimmy Pyke and drew huge crowds to their ground at Boundary Road in the 1880s. In 1898, the workforce at Pilkingtons voted for rugby to be replaced by Association football and the Recs took their place in the Lancashire Combination, including fixtures against the reserve teams of Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Blackburn and the like at their new ground in City Road.
Yet soccer was to take its course and was replaced by rugby league after the First World War. The Recs had some magnificent youngsters – all local lads – Johnny Greenall, Tommy Dingsdale and the famous back three Smith Fildes and Mulvanney. They won the Lancashire Cup in 1923, beating the Saints in the race for major honours. The two sides clashed in the 1926 final, although Saints won 10-2. The club provided three players for the 1928 Australian Tour and went on to beat Wigan 18-3 in the 1930 Lancashire Cup Final, before losing impetus by the mid 1930s and were disbanded just before the outbreak of War in 1939.
The club returned as an amateur outfit in 1949, known as Pilkington Recreation. They were at their peak in the 1970s and early 1980s, including four victories in the BARLA National Cup. Names like McCabe, Whittle, Simmons, Hull, Glover and Gormley will be familiar to those fans of a particular vintage. A founder member of the BARLA National League in the mid 1980s, the Recs today play in the North West Counties Premier League and have a range of teams of all ages wearing the famous red, amber and black.
In 2008 the team won the North West Counties Premiership trophy – its first honour for nearly a quarter of a century. This was followed by a terrific encounter against Batley Bulldogs, in the third round of the Challenge Cup in 2009 when the Red Amber and Blacks were so close to a shock victory over their professional opponents. In 2010-11, the Open Age team pulled off a marvellous Premiership Trophy and St. Helens Cup “double’ and look forward to a new beginning at their new home at Ruskin Drive from 2011-12. Their spiritual home at City Road, home to three codes of football during the club’s long history, will remain as a training base.