Horwich RMI’s Evolution to Leigh Genesis- The Original Franchise FC

02Jul08

 

The gradual demise of Horwich RMI has been phased in since 1995, so it’s not surprising that not many people are aware of their demise. The final nail in their coffin has been applied more recently by a ‘visionary chairman’, Dominic Speakman. In 1995 they were transformed into Leigh RMI and since June the club have been parading as Leigh Genesis. The launch of Genesis included terms such as ‘ideas of colour’, ‘core of the new brand’, ‘The alignment of football to fashion’ and ‘a contemporary edge and is unique in the world of football’. This is the same visionary chairman that is planning on moving the club, with an average attendance of 250, to a 10,000 seater stadium. 

Leigh are not the only town that have bought a football team. The Football League lost a lot of credibility when they allowed Wimbledon to relocate to Milton Keynes. The Football Association distanced themselves from the Wimbledon decision, with the then chief executive, Adam Crozier, describing the decision as ‘appalling’. MK Don’s first game in the Nationwide League drew an attendance of under 2,500. Disenchanted Wimbledon fans had formed a breakaway club, which attracted a crowd of over 4,500 in the Combined Counties League. It is important to note that MK Dons have done extremely well since the move and they are not really to blame- even if they did buy football league status. 

Horwich RMI (Railway Mechanics Institute) were founded in 1986 at the locomotive building works in Horwich. RMI were a non-league club that was uprooted and moved seven miles south to Leigh back in 1995. Horwich’s traumatic move to Leigh involved a far greater leap than a mere seven-mile journey south west. Unsigned boundaries were crossed. Horwich is Bolton Wanderers and football; Leigh is Wigan and rugby league. The move included ground-sharing with Leigh Centurians. This caused a decline in support from Horwich’s disassociated fans. After changing their name to Leigh RMI they were relegated in their first season.

 

Five years later, Leigh RMI climbed back to the summit of non-league football, the Conference. In 2005  Leigh RMI played the first ever game against FC United of Manchester, the team formed in reaction to the purchase of Manchester United by the Glazer family. Interestingly, Leigh RMI and FC United of Manchester had considered a merger, yet RMI supporters chairman, Peter Low, stated “It would seem hypocritical to some degree, in light of the Glazer events, if a team came into being by taking over another club”. Just like Leigh Genesis replacing Horwich RMI maybe?

It was inevitable that the Leigh would eventually drop the RMI (Railway Mechanics Institute) suffix. There isn’t even a train station in Leigh! Now the club are residing in the Northern Premier League and have been re-branded Leigh Genesis. However, in wiping out RMI they have erased any trace of Horwich RMI, the original team. The re-branding included changing, not only the name, but also the colour of the football kit. The process that started in 1995 has deleted the Horwich RMI team and replaced it with Speakman’s Leigh Genesis. 

This is great news for Leigh as they have now got a new football team for the town and the prospect of a move to Leigh Sports Village and a 10,000 all-seater stadium, despite an average attendence of just 250. The ‘visionary’ also insisted on restricting a key income stream by not having a shirt sponsor in order to display ‘Genesis’, and spread the brand. They are also becoming full-time, which is unusual for the Northern Premier League. Two teams that attempted this were Grantham Town and Colne Dynamoes. Grantham have only just regained a sound financial footing a decade later, and Colne Dynamoes folded in 1990. Is the future bright? Only if they change their kit to orange.

 

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10 Responses to “Horwich RMI’s Evolution to Leigh Genesis- The Original Franchise FC”

  1. it will be interesting to see just how the fanbase at Leigh ´Genesis´ adapt to the new name, ive read elsewhere that many fans aren´t actually as opposed to it as some would have you believe. Terrible name for a club though.

  2. 2 Nick

    I’m sure Leigh RMI fans are indifferent- why not build a ‘re-branded’ new team. It’s the Horwich RMI fans (so, pre-1995) and Horwich town that have lost a football team.

  3. 3 rory roberts

    lets be honest,howich rmi got too high up in the leagues they should have merged with atherton colls or lr and called horwich and atherton rmi,at least they have train stations.

  4. Nice to see that a fair amount of this article was actually copied from Wikipedia – anyone doing their research will realise that Leigh most certainly IS NOT Wigan territory as we have a rugby league side of our own, while there is also a big footballing support for Bolton and the Manchester clubs, with many disenchanted with the modern game and looking to follow non-league, as proven by over 200 supporters going to a recent pre-season game.

    It isn’t just about a name change; the entire structure and mentality of the club has been changed completely. I’d go as far to say that, after dealing with numerous local professional clubs over the years, that LGFC are now certainly one of the best-run clubs in the area.

    You might also like to note that the club moving to the Leigh Sports Village was actually confirmed six (yes, that’s SIX) years prior to the name being changed.

    Might want to do your research next time to get on your faux-high horse cocker, we’ll carry on enjoying our club having a new lease of life.

  5. 5 Nick

    It’s great to hear someone who has truly bought into their ‘visionary’ chairman’s dream of this completely new ‘brand’ of football club with ‘a contemporary edge’ that is, most surprisingly, ‘unique in the world of football’ (probably for a good reason). At this point it is important to emphasise that i can undertstand how Leigh Genesis fans are relishing this new lease of life, it’s great for Leigh (apart from the issue of sustainability).

    I think you maybe missing the point. The real issue is your ‘new’ club severing all ties to it’s history and Horwich RMI, the club Leigh genesis have stolen to gain a footing on the non-league ladder. Leigh Sports Village could have been a home for Leigh RMI. That suffix is a tie to the clubs history and would probably have kept on board the romantic Horwich fans that hadn’t yet become disillusioned (but i guess your club doesn’t need their support anymore?). The problem is the name change has erased any link to the clubs past and Howich RMI, making Leigh genesis a franchised club that has been moved from Horwich.

    But i would be happy to change the focus and have a brief look at the sustainability of your ‘new’ club. Although a 200 strong support for afew away games is admirable – maybe not surprising given the hype surrounding the ‘new’ club. Will those fans enjoy the echoes in your new stadium? Let’s face it, you’ll be lucky to fill a fifth of the new ground- surely staged development would be more mutually beneficial approach from your ‘visionary’ chairman. Where is the income going to come from to support a full-time playing squad (not shirt sponsorship because the club is spreading the genesis brand/could always rely on filling up that new stadium every week i guess)?

    It seems the point of rugby league in your town has also been misinterpreted. Leigh, like Wigan just down the road, is rugby league territory. I have mentioned Leigh Centurians in the article, dare i say a much bigger draw than genesis? Wigan boast the best ticket prices and most admirable ticketing policies in the Premiership, yet they can’t fill their ground. If the genesis revolution does prove successful and you climb to football league, then i still doubt you’d fill a quarter of that sparkling new stadium.

  6. 6 Ian

    Hi,

    I love football and live in Leigh but have been watching it from my armchair for the last 10 years.

    When hearing / reading about Genesis I decided to go and watch the friendlies.

    Thoroughly good time has been had and I’m off to get my season ticket. My significant other will be coming to a lot of games with me and my two children. Their mates are likely to come with us also. There you go. I have personally added around 2% to our average gate.

    I’m absolutely certain there are and will be many, many more like me.

    Why would we want to hang on to the old stagnant history of the club in favour of a new image and some hope?

    Maybe it can be sustainable and if it is, it will be down to people from Leigh to do the supporting. I think we can live without those 27 people from Horwich who still remember “the good old days”.

    I can’t see 10,000 people from Horwich driving past the Reebok to watch there beloved RMI.

  7. 7 Nick

    Hi Ian,

    Although i remain slightly skeptical about the substance behind the Genesis, i honestly hope that it is a success on behalf of the new fans that, like yourself, have been pulled in. It is vital that non-league clubs gain the support of the community that they serve.

    The issue that makes me uncomfortable with Genesis is that Leigh could have quite easily founded a new club and started from scratch, AFC Wimbledon or FC United-esque. Instead they chose to buy a club already competing and erase all history pre-1995.

    As i’m sure you have gathered, i believe Horwich RMI was set up for the community of Horwich. When the club made the move and decided to change the name for the first time, to Leigh RMI, the name symbolised a special club that served the communities of both Leigh and Horwich. Now, RMI has been discarded, along with the clubs history and any lingering support from Horwich.

    Is the ‘RMI’ suffix not sufficiently original or marketable? Are Genesis better of without the support and backing of two communities, compared with one? I believe Mr Speakman has missed a trick, Leigh RMI had a great story that could have been marketed in a similar fashion to both communities to revitalise links with the club. Why was Genesis necessary?

  8. 8 Ian

    I can completely understand your side of this argument.

    However, with a new stadium, new chairman, new manager, new (now full time) team, new kit etc. etc. why try to market the old RMI?

    People in the town might not realise the extent of the change.

    After all, it would just be the same old RMI in a better facility.

    It isn’t, its a new baby. I’m excited and can’t wait for the next episode, (tomorrow in Salford).

    If it wasn’t for the Genesis thing I might not even have known and would be looking forward to the start of the Premiereship on Sky.

  9. 9 Ian

    Sorry, I just wanted to add :

    Yes, I do feel that it is a great shame to forget the history and those that have been following Horwich / Leigh for many years.

    However, I really believe it is a worthwhile sacrifice to get my Man-U supporting 9 year old son and football hating 8 year old daughter excited about going to see the Genesis on a rainy day somewhere in Nottingham.

    I think the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

  10. 10 Nick

    You put your points across very well and i do agree with many of them. It is great that they are gaining support from the community of Leigh and even better that they are attracting younger fans (especially if it’s at the expense of United).

    I think your point that ‘its a new baby’ sums up the issue that i struggle to get my head around. I would be more than 100% behind Genesis if they had started from scratch.

    But the change has happened and i hope that it turns out for the better, and good luck in Salford tonight!


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