2003 Lancashire FA Trophy
Leigh Genesis (formally Horwich RMI) moved to Hilton Park in 1994 having their former Grundy Hill ground sold off for property development.
The club back then decided for a stern change and changed the clubs name, in line with the move to Leigh and also the clubs colours with Leigh Genesis now playing in Red and White shirts rather than Horwich’s old Blue and White.
The clubs first season as Leigh Genesis started in the Unibond League First Division during the 1995-1996 season and finished a respectable 14th in the division. The season after was more encouraging as they gained promotion to the Premier Division finishing in 2nd place and almost made it to the FA Cup 1st round but fell at the final qualifying stage.
Leigh Genesis during the first season in the Unibond Premier Division, took the league by storm and finished just outside the promotion places but the 1998-1999 season would go down in the clubs history and FA Cup folk law. The club had a great run in the famous old trophy and after beating local Manchester rivals Droylsden in the 4th qualifying round, FA Cup fever took the town by storm as they drew then 2nd Division Fulham (managed by Kevin Keegan at the time) at their famous Craven Cottage ground. Leigh was a ghost town on the day of the game as more than 5,000 leythers made the 5 hour journey down to central London to support their non-league heroes. RMI took the lead but after intense pressure from the full timers, Fulham scraped a draw with minutes remaining.
The restructuring process below made the Football Conference into 3 divisions. A National Conference (which Leigh Genesis would compete in the upcoming 2004-2005 season) and two regional leagues, The Conference North and Conference South. Below them the Unibond League stayed just a step lower.
1896 (As Horwich RMI) : Changed Name To Leigh RMI In 1995
A celebration at the final whistle was culminated in Sky Sports agreeing to film the replay at Hilton Park a week later and again the town came out in full support. 7,125 people packed into a wet Hilton Park but unfortunately the team was undone by Canadian striker Paul Peschisolido’s two goals although the club got alot of national recognition and Kevin Keegan acknowledged the clubs efforts and praised manager Steve Waywell for his side’s commitment.
The turn of the millennium brought celebration to Leigh Genesis as the club gained promotion from the Unibond Premier League with a massive 92 points outplaying their opponents for most of the season.
As the top flight of non-league football beaconed the task was a hard act to follow on from the previous seasons work. The Nationwide Conference was a division made up of mainly full-time teams but that didn’t seem to matter to the Hilton Park club as at the first time of asking, Leigh Genesis finished in 5th position with a good record against the top sides that season. Rushden & Diamonds won the league that year and the railwaymen were the only team they didn’t take maximum points off with a narrow 1-0 win at home and a draw away at Nene Park. Also RMI reached the first round of the FA Cup again this time being drawn at home to football league big boys Millwall, though due to safety fears the tie was switched down to their London home and lost the tie 3-0. During the off season the club lost an influential player in winger Steve Jones who was transferred to Crewe Alexandra for £125,000. Steve later went onto Burnley and has been capped several times by the Northern Ireland senior squad.
The 2000-2001 season was the clubs most successful stint in the top league and the following season they finished 16th with a strike force of former Manchester United star Michael Twiss and experienced partner Dino Maamria.
In the 2002-2003 season saw a change within the club as the manager of 7 years Steve Waywell, departed to local rivals Hyde United and so his assistant Mark Patterson (former Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers midfielder) took charge and aided the club avoid relegation on the final day of the season with a nail biting 1-0 win away Kettering Town. Also in that season the club lifted the Lancashire Trophy defeating Kendal Town 2-1 in the final at Accrington Stanley’s Crown Ground.
The next season was all set for big things as Sky Sports signed a contract to show Conference games on TV this giving clubs an opportunity for more revenue. RMI featured later on in the season on a Monday night fixture away at promotion hopefuls Shrewsbury Town. The Gay Meadow side come out on top 3-1 with Leigh giving a good account of themselves to the nation’s public. In October 2003 Mark Patterson resigned as manger and the club brought in former Nottingham Forest midfielder Phil Starbuck as boss with former Manchester City legend Steve Redmond being appointed player-assistant manager. Unfortunately the season didn’t go well as the wooden spoon was awarded to us for finishing bottom of the division though in a dramatic turnaround the club survived! Telford United were declared bankrupt and so were demoted and no teams were promoted from the league below due to the restructuring of the Unibond League.
At Grundy Hill : 8,500 V’s Wigan Athletic, Lancashire Cup 1954. At Hilton Park : 7,125 Vs Fulham, FA Cup 1st Round Replay, 1998
The 2004-2005 season was one to forget as Leigh Genesis again finished bottom of the league and this time were relegated. The club had 3 managers that season (Phil Starbuck, Geoff Lutley and Steve Bleasdale) and 68 players and with no continuity, the club regrouped into the new Conference North.
Reserve team managers Andy Nelson and Stuart Humphreys took charge of the club for the Conference North campaign of 2005-2006 and had the honour of playing FC United Of Manchester in their first ever competitive fixture. The management team assembled a squad of young, hungry players who were going to be committed to the club and to play for the pride in the shirt. Unfortunately the side failed to impress in the strong league and finished in a relegation place. Again the club avoided relegation this time to the Unibond League on a count of the restructuring of the divisions below.
Another season in the Conference North was welcomed by the management team and the experience from the poor season previously shone through with the team going unbeaten through the usually hard Christmas and New Year period and at the end of the season finished 7 points clear of relegation. Andy Nelson left the club after only 2 games but Stuart took over and did well for his first year as a number 1.
Looking to build on the form of the unbeaten runs of the previous year, not many changes were made to the squad but after being unbeaten in the first 3 games a bad run of results hit and the club sacked manager Stuart Humphreys. Steve Bleasdale returned for his second spell as manager in October 2007 and his side showed plenty of grit and determination throughout the season.
During the 2007-2008 season local businessman Dominic Speakman came in as the new club chairman and gave the club a new lease of life with his professional approach towards football with the club having been run over the years by part time staff and mainly important volunteers. His vision for the club is one of a positive future as they look to move to the new Leigh Sports Village complex in June 2008 and will have a new 10,000 capacity stadium at the clubs disposal.