Leigh Miners Rangers are a community amateur rugby league football club from Leigh in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Greater Manchester. The club currently competes in the top division of the National Conference League. The club also operates an A team and an under 18s team; plus numerous junior teams. Now includes a successful Ladies side and Masters Section.
The club can trace its roots back to 1966, when players from Astley & Tyldesley linked up with the disbanded junior section from Hope Rangers to form the new club based at the Miners’ Welfare Club on Twist Lane. Back then the team played in the Warrington League.
The team moved into the North West Counties League in the 1970s and was successful in winning a record number of Premier Division titles. They also came close to the biggest Challenge Cup upset of all time, leading holders Warrington at Wilderspool with time running down, before a late score saw Wire progress.
In 1986 the team became founder members of the National Conference League and remain one of only two sides never to have played outside the top division of the amateur game’s flagship league. Early success was limited, although Miners won the short-lived Conference League Cup. In 1999, under coach Ian Taylor, a team including Richard Henare, Mark Meadows and Andy Collier beat the then-professional Bramley at Headingley in the Challenge Cup third round, but in the league the team were struggling until the appointment of former BARLA coach Warren Ayres in autumn 1999.
Under Ayres, Miners reached the inaugural National Conference Grand Final in 2002, narrowly beaten by West Hull at Spotland, Rochdale, and since then Miners remain the only club to have appeared in all but one series of play-offs to date. In 2005 the team won the Grand Final, defeating Wath Brow Hornets at Orrell in what proved to be Ayres’ last game in charge. His assistant Winston Sarsfield took the helm, and guided the team to third place and the National Cup final in his first season. In 2006-07 with a team largely composed of graduates from the club’s under-18s side including Scott O’Brien and Aaron Gorton, Miners claimed the Minor Premiership but lost out in the Grand Final to Skirlaugh. In 2008-9, with a team including eight players from the victorious under-18s side of 2007-08, the team maintained their record of appearing in every top six series of play-offs, and had a fourth-place finish. The season culminated with two players touring the South Pacific with the BARLA international side, another touring Ukraine with the under-23s and four players going on the youth tour of Australia. In 2009-10 the club maintained its record in the play-offs with a fifth-placed finish and also became the first amateur team to play on the new Leigh Sports Village ground. They were Treble Champions in 2015 led by joint coaches Paul Whitworth and Allan Coleman in the clubs most successful season.