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GA Boardman & the mystery of Heritage Number 1157

5 February 2020

Eagle-eyed Warrington Wolves fans might be wondering what’s happened to the running order of the club’s Heritage Numbers.  Back in 2012 the Wire were the first rugby team in the world to start awarding a unique number to first team players based on the date of their debut.

At the end of 2019 loan signing Matty Smith received Heritage Number 1156 when he debuted against St. Helens in round 25 of Super League on 8 August 2019.  So it might have caused confusion when, following their debuts at Wigan on the opening night of Super League XXV Matty Ashton was awarded number 1158 & Anthony Gelling number 1159.

So what has happened to Heritage Number 1157?  During the off-season, an error was identified in the records of Warrington, for a game way back in 1923.  On the last day of the season Warrington travelled to Barrow, suffering defeat by 5-16.  For reasons unknown, the Wire team that was recorded differed somewhat from the actual side that took the field that day, which included a debutant by the name of GA Boardman.

This game at Barrow proved to be the only time that Boardman, a regular in the reserves that season, pulled on a first team jersey.  Because of the original error, when the initial list of players entitled to receive a Heritage Number was drawn up, his name was missing, and he was never awarded one.  The club have now rectified that mistake, granting him the next available slot, number 1157.

Little is known about GA Boardman at this stage, but club historians hope to unearth more information on the new-found player to add to the rich bank of information on other names from the past.

This is not the first such error identified in the Warrington numbers, as a similar omission was made for Arthur Gladstone Bramhall, who despite making his sole appearance back in 1914 was awarded number 1103 prior to the start of the 2013 season.

The error relating to Boardman was identified by Warrington fan Neil Ormston, who runs the club heritage site, which is dedicated to preserving the history of rugby league in Warrington.  It came to light when working with the recently re-formed Rugby League Record Keepers’ Club, as the initial team listing for the match did not include Stan Wheatley, even though Wheatley was listed as a goal scorer!  This led to further investigation which uncovered the correct team line-up, revealing GA Boardman’s presence, that finally led to his recognition 97 years after his debut.

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