Sale FC’s History

Sale FC is a semi-professional rugby union club based at Heywood Road in Sale, Greater Manchester, England, which plays in National League 1 following promotion from National League 2 North at the end of the 2017–18 season. Premiership club Sale Sharks is the professional offshoot of Sale FC.

Formed by a team of sportsmen drawn mainly from Sale Cricket Club, Sale Football Club was founded in 1861 and is the fifth oldest surviving rugby club. In the early days of the club, rules were usually deemed unnecessary and those that were enforced were often made up on the spot. As the game began to evolve, however, the need for specified regulations became apparent and in 1865 the Minute Book was created stipulating the ten rules to be followed by all players. This is reputedly world’s oldest existing rugby rule book and a much treasured possession. Games were originally played on either a rented portion of Sale Cricket Club or on fields owned by local farmers. In 1905, the club bought a field at the end of Heywood Road.

Sale FC have featured many prominent international and county players. Pat Davies became their first England international in 1927 and the 1930s saw an international backline of Hal Sever (England wing), Claude Davey and Wilf Wooller (Wales centres) and Ken Fyfe (Scotland wing). Fran Cotton, Steve Smith, Dewi Morris, Richard Trickey and Jason Robinson also played at Sale.

In 1936, Sale were invited to take part in the Middlesex Sevens Cup and went on to win the competition. Before World War II, an increase in membership meant that the club had almost outgrown facilities at Heywood Road and an additional site on Woodbourne Road was purchased. Initially this was meant to be a training ground for the junior team, but there were talks to eventually relocate the rest of the club there too, but when war was over it was instead decided to focus efforts on the redevelopment of Heywood Road. Land was sold to fund the project and the ground gradually began to evolve. A new clubhouse was built, the old bath house replaced by squash courts, changing facilities improved, floodlights installed and the commemorative Jim Birtles Stand erected.

After the formation of Sale Sharks, Sale FC were placed in the South Lancs/Cheshire Division 4 for season 2003-04.  Since that date they have won 7 promotions, the last being in 2017-18 when they became champions of National League 2 North.

This season they are in 3rd place in the league table having won 17 and lost 3 of their games. Their leading try-scorer is Joshua Brown with 15.  Last Saturday they posted a 27-17 home win over Chinnor. In the corresponding game at Sale on November 5th 2022 Sale won by 34-7.

It is a pleasure to welcome such a famous old and well established club to the Ferens Ground this afternoon.

Norman Angell.

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