In the late 1920s, Barrow RFC was at a low ebb. There was little or no on-field
success, crowds were at a low ebb and the ground was somewhat ramshackle.
Other Rugby League clubs were beginning to leave us behind both on and off
The supporters of the club decided enough was enough and driven on by
Commander Craven, John Whinnerah and other notaries of that era, monies were raised to
purchase land in the town centre and build a new ground.
Contributions were made by individuals and local businesses and Barrow RFC set about
building Craven Park. It was a remarkable success story and within seven years of
the ground opening the club were able to field a team capable of defeating anybody.
A Wembley appearance in 1938 was merely a taster of what was to come in the 1950s
when Barrow really was a side to be feared. All this was achieved by the vision and
drive of our forefathers. Many of our grandparents and great grandparents
contributed enormously to what happened both with practical and financial help.
The success of the move to Craven Park cannot be overstated.
It is our inheritance from them and we must ensure that it becomes our inheritance
to our children, grand children and great grand children.
The new millennium saw Barrow RFC (by now the Raiders) once again at a low ebb and playing in a crumbling Craven Park which was no longer a ground to be proud of. 2005 was the lowest point when the team managed to win just one league match in National League One and crowds were well below 1,000. Once again other clubs were leaving us behind.
However, the vision and drive of one man, Des Johnston, has seen the phoenix begin to arise form the ashes and with his financial input, and tough negotiating skills, we now have a team which is ranked the best outside of Super League. Just twelve months ago this was unthinkable. Crowds are now edging towards the 2,500 figure (average) and are likely to improve still further in 2010.
It has now been decided by the Board of Directors to apply for a Super League Franchise for the 2012 season, a bid which (if successful) will once again see Barrow competing among the sport’s elite.
However, in order to achieve this, the ground needs to be significantly improved to meet modern day requirements and standards.
It is now our turn to emulate our forefathers by contributing financially and practically to help this dream become a reality.
Who knows, we may be just three years from watching Barrow Raiders play at Wembley Stadium or competing at Old Trafford in a Super League Grand Final.