Friday, 12 April 2013

The Story of Wembley 1983. Part VIII

Thirty Years On.....

 It would be very difficult to convey all the emotions of the day in one short blogspot, but here is how the game was described in “The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final: An Illustrated History”, by Les Hoole. The homecoming photos are by Eric Lorriman.

"In one of the most incident packed Wembley finals for years, Featherstone Rovers produced a display of such authority that they achieved the seemingly impossible and beat firm favourites Hull. Before the game Hull had 99 percent of the rugby league world tipping them not just to win, but to do so by a wide margin. Outside the little mining village of Featherstone – and, if they had dared to say it, even in the village itself - Rovers were given no chance. However the clever and confident play which Hull had used so well throughout the season simply evaporated at Wembley.
In complete contrast to Hull, Featherstone were a strong self-assured side who had planned and prepared for their victory with military-like precision. They knew from the outset that they had to prevent the Airlie Birds from spreading the ball out wide to their talented backs, and to do this they had to concentrate on their defensive work, especially their tackling.
Rovers struck first in the 7th minute when David Hobbs surged through James Leuluai’s attempted tackle and plunged over the line near the corner. Quinn failed with the conversion, but added a later penalty. In an eventful first half Hull lost Kevin Harkin after a collision with Terry Hudson, and John Gilbert was carried off when Paul Rose tackled him high. Rose’s crude tackle earned him a sin-binning, the first player ever to receive such treatment at Wembley.
Hull shuffled their backs around, and finally showed their capabilities in a brief spell at the start of the second half. The referee awarded Hull a penalty try when he adjudged that Rovers’ Hobbs had unfairly stopped Lee Crooks’ attempt to re-gather a kick through on the line. Crooks added the conversion to level the scores. Ten minutes later Hull swept into a 12-5 lead when Leuluai scored and Crooks kicked two more goals.
Rovers stuck to their game plan and a try from Hobbs and two goals from Quinn saw Rovers level again. With just three minutes remaining Steve Quinn landed a 20 yard penalty shot at goal and Featherstone were worthy 14-12 winners."

The game had an impact throughout the whole rugby league world, and reactions and congratulations came from many quarters, including from sports organisations outside rugby league too. People recognised a triumph of determination and self-belief that transcended the boundaries of sport. It was a truly marvellous occasion.


  1. What a great day that was.
    I can remember being in Wembley Stadium before the game with my family. Like everyone else there, I was there to enjoy the occasion. The fact that Hull were big favourites to win the game was reflected in my own expectations - I just hoped that Rovers would play well and make a good game out of it. Well, that was until I saw the two teams come out on the field before ever getting changed into their playing kit, to get acclimatised on the day so to speak. The Hull players looked like they had the weight of expectation on their shoulders, all serious faced and concerned. The Rovers players came out on to the pitch with broad smiles on their faces, happily acknowledging their friends, family and Rovers fans in the growing crowd. At that point I can remember thinking "Hang on a minute, we might just win this." Hull had all the pressure to bear while Rovers had nothing to lose.
    The game that followed will live in the minds of all Rovers fans there that day for as long as we take breath.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Where did you get your pics from? There are some terrific snaps - especially the one of the bus parade.

    Kind regards,

    Matt Newsum
    BBC Sport

  3. The bus parade photos are from official club photographer at that time, Eric Lorriman.

  4. Thanks Mark. Great blog by the way!

  5. And a very interesting article from you on AA, Matt.

  6. Thanks Mark. The link on the first paragraph goes direct to your blog.

    Really enjoyable read.

  7. Ha! Nice one Matt, I hadn't noticed. Thanks for that.

  8. The 4th geratest day of my life (behind the birth of my 3 children). Put a £5 bet on at the local bookmakers, we would win the cup that year, after the first round. Won £143. 33 to 1. More than a week's wage. The memoery will live for ever. Thank's