Twenty years ago today, Manchester city centre was devastated by a huge bomb, the largest ever detonated by the IRA on UK soil.
Apart from causing damage costing hundreds of millions of pounds, it destroyed a vital piece of Rugby League history.
A plaque commemorating the moment that Rugby League was created was destroyed in the blast and was lost forever. But thanks to some keen Rugby League fans in the city, Mancunians, the Rugby League charity Rugby League cares, and Manchester City Council teamed up to fund a replacement.
The plaque was relaid four years ago at 11.16 AM – exactly sixteen years after it was destroyed – in a ceremony in Exchange Square, a tourist hotspot in the heart of the city. It was unveiled by former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, and now board member of Mancunians, Ian Seabridge, who oversaw the operation to evacuate the city centre on the day of the bomb.
Mr Seabridge, was asked to unveil the memento on the wall of Selfridges. It stands on the site of the former Spread Eagle pub in Hanging Ditch, just yards from where the bomb exploded.
It was there, in 1895, that all twenty two members of the embryonic Northern Union met for the first time to arrange the first fixtures.
They gathered just a week after a famous summit at The George Hotel in Huddersfield resulted in the decision by clubs in the north to break away from the Rugby Football Union and set up the new association which would eventually become the Rugby Football League.
Mr Seabridge, who is also a trustee of the Rugby League Charity, Rugby League Cares, told the Manchester Evening News at the time: “Manchester and Salford played a key role in the early years of rugby league and continue to do so.
“We lost a lot of history in the bomb and it is fantastic to see things come full circle.
“This is a wonderful, vibrant, forward-thinking city and it is wonderful to see it now reflect on that history once more.”