Super League attendances continue to be a focal point for most of the sport’s fraternity, with some record-breaking crowds and also some dwindling ones achieved in recent seasons. But, just how does each Super League’s highest home attendance look like from the competition’s 26-year history?
Castleford have been one of the success stories in terms of attendances throughout the Super League era. The club’s relative stability in the top-flight at the end of the noughties and the upturn in form from 2014 onwards has provoked an upturn in attendances and this was epitomised in the sell-out crowd of 11,500 against Leeds in 2017.
Catalans have grown incredible as a side since their inception in the early 2000s and they have underlined this with some massive crowds in that time. The Stade Gilbert Brutus hit a record 11,856 in 2006 against Wigan, but the Dragons’ on-the-road game against the same opposition at the Nou Camp in Barcelona hit 31,555 – the biggest ever Super League attendance.
No fanbase perhaps gets more stick than that of Huddersfield whose sparse crowd has hardly made itself more likeable with the addition of a cowbell. However, when the Giants were within a shot of the Grand Final, things were a lot better – Huddersfield’s record crowd still remains the 15,629 registered against Leeds in 2008.
Known for their vociferous support, Hull FC tend to bring in strong home and away followings at the KCOM Stadium. Of course, the Hull derby was perhaps always going to be the number one result here with the Airlie Birds’ highest attendance sitting at 23,004 against KR in 2007.
Likewise, the Robins regularly pull in impressive average attendances as well as big numbers for the derby and their record is no different. 12,100 spectators turned out for KR’s battle against Hull FC in 2019.
The best supported club during the 2010s, Leeds’ expansion of their Headingley stadium will likely trigger another spike during the 2021 season. At their traditional ground, the Rhinos set a record of 21,000 against Bradford in 1999, but they did take a game to Elland Road in 2018. That fixture against Castleford drew in 23,246.
Though spending most of the 26 years of Super League’s existence outside the top flight, Leigh have still managed to hit a series of impressive attendance records in the Championship. One of those includes the 10,556 spectators that piled into the Leigh Sports Village in September 2016.
Salford Red Devils
For Salford, a move away from their Willows home actually sparked a spiralling attendance average with fans seemingly falling out of love with their new home at the AJ Bell Stadium. There’s no surprise, therefore, that the Willows still holds Salford’s record attendance of 10,146, with the AJ Bell record standing at 7,102.
Whilst Salford’s move to a new home offset an attendance decline, St Helens’ did exactly the opposite. Langtree Park – or the Totally Wicked Stadium as it’s now known – brought Saints into the 21st century. Three times the new build has been sold out with 17,900 packing into the stands, and, of course all three were derby fixtures against Wigan in 2012, 2014 and 2018. Knowsley Road did, however host 18,098 against Warrington in 1996.
Wakefield have endured something of an attendance rollercoaster over the 2010s, with things looking up early in the decade before falling back to earth with a bump. Though, again, this picked up towards the end of the decade. Trinity’s home fixture against Castleford in 2006 still holds the record at 11,000 in the so-called “Battle of Belle Vue”.
It can come as little coincidence that Warrington’s two most consistent seasons – 2011 and 2016 – witnessed the highest average crowd at the Halliwell Jones. And, it was the latter year in which the Wolves’ record attendance was recorded with 15,008 packing out the HJ against Widnes.
Wigan’s attendances have been on a steady decline for the past five seasons, dropping from first to the fourth-best supported team in the country by 2019. That’s even more remarkable when considering that no other team have won or reached as many Grand Finals in the 2010s as Wigan have. No wonder then that the highest attendance at the DW Stadium came way back in 2005 when 25,004 spectators sat to watch the derby against St Helens on Good Friday.