Who are Leigh RMI Football Club?
At the start, they weren’t called Leigh and they didn’t play in Leigh. The start of the line is 1896; the club one of two to be set up at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s workshops. This one? The locomotive works in Horwich was where it all started. The other club of the two? Well, they started at the Newton Heath carriage and wagon works. It’s fair to say that club went onto make something of themselves. Does the name Manchester United ring a bell?
Obviously, starting life in Horwich meant their name – to start with – was Horwich RMI. And the RMI stands for Railway Mechanics Institute, by the way. In 1917, the Railwaymen secured a spot in the Lancashire Combination league. And there they’d stay until 1968; runners-up in 1929 the best position they could manage. After switching to the Cheshire County League in 1968, they’d soon become founder members of the North West Counties League in 1982.
That didn’t last long either.
Why do we know the Railwaymen?
One year after signing up to the NWCL, the Railwaymen switched tracks; entering the Northern Premier League. Four times between 1983 and 1995, they had points lopped off for a variety of reasons (we think). According to the FCHD, “rule breaches” is the official term. But what was so important about 1995? Well, we’ll tell you – clearly. That was the year the club moved to Leigh. And that was also the year that Leigh RMI put itself on the non-league football map.
The move to Hilton Park (home of Leigh Centurions RLFC) would be a catalyst for their growth. But they had to start one step back after relegation to the NPL Division One the same summer they moved. Within another five years, though, the Railwaymen had not only made up the lost ground. Nope – they kicked on even more; promotion to the NPL Premier Division in 1997 then followed up with the NPL title in 2000. And, with it, came a place in the Nationwide Conference.