The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Story of Wembley 1983. Part XI

There has been a lot of positive feedback to this series, both on facebook and the Rovers forum. Many fans have shared their own experience and memories of this great occasion, a selection of which are reproduced here:

Terry Mullaney
I was lucky enough to be involved back in 83 and we left Fev on the Wednesday for team HQ in Watford at a Police Training College which had superb facilities for the players. There were many great memories from those few days leading up to the final but the one which sticks in my mind more than any other was from the eve of the big game. The players had gone to bed early and there were just a few of us left in the bar anticipating the mammoth task facing the Rovers. If I'm honest I didn't think we'd a chance of winning and I remember saying to Sammy Windmill, our assistant coach..... 'How can we possibly win tomorrow Sam?' His response was... 'if we don't win I'll show my backside all the way up Station Lane' I was totally taken aback at his absolute positivity on what appeared to be a no hope situation. How right Sam was proved to be and the phenomenal achievement of the following day will live forever in the memories of all RL fans who were lucky enough to witness the greatest RL Cup Final upset of all time. What a fantastic group of players, all from the Featherstone area except our adopted son, Steve Quinn and what a coaching team of Sammy, Keith Goulding and head coach, Allan Agar. To this day Allan remains a good friend but much more than that he's a true Rovers legend in my eyes for what he achieved that famous day. Once in a lifetime stuff.

Mick Bourke
Peter Smith, tackled Norton out of the match stopped everything in a black n white shirt. He was my M.O.M.

Andy Knight
My first season supporting Fev - lived in Kendal at the time and my dad arranged for the whole family to go to Wembley to see the game; we went down Friday so I got a day off school which was a bonus. Memories are of the journey down; loads of cars and coaches with blue and white & black and white; stopping at Watford Gap services and buying a fev scarf and blue and white peaked hat - still got the scarf but looked like honkey tonk from Dick Emery show in the hat so got rid of that soon after! Being stood on the terraces at the tunnel end as the players came out and being amazed by the noise the fans generated - since watched it back on TV and can hardly hear us but when you were in the middle of it then sounded very loud. Remember Dave Hobbs try in the corner, John Gilbert getting taken off after a late tackle and the ginger wizard Tex Hudson bossing the show; and finally, that kick by Stevie Quinn to make it Fev 14 - Hull 12. What a day and what a journey back up North. As I say my first year of supporting Fev so I thought we got to Wembley every year and certainly did not comprehend the enormity of what this little pit village team had achieved against the big spending city club. And from there my 30 year love affair with the Rovers began.

Janet Jennings
We were such underdogs nobody gave us a chance in the media."It will be a nice day out for the Fev fans" they said. Little did they know that I dreamt the week before Wembley that Pete Smith held up the Challenge Cup to the cheers and shouts of the Fev faithfull. What a day we had, going down on the train and then the next day going to welcome the team back crowds lining the streets all the way from Pontefract. It absolutely howled it down with rain but nobody cared...... Such amazing memories.

John Dyson
Well done Mark this blog has taken me back to such a wonderful cup run I remember the Hull supporters giving us congratulations as we came out of Wembley what good sports we even ended up staying in the same hotel as the players needless to say a good night was had by all.

Joanne Fitzpatrick
That day was one of the best and most memorable days of my life!

Alan Bedworth
This was the first and only time my Dad had been to Wembley, we had one great day.

Nigel Harper
I was gutted cos I couldn’t see em off in Station lane as I was delivering in Ponte, but I was on my way up Ackworth rd in Ponte and the team bus went by me and I couldn’t believe it, players waving (cos we knew them ALL in those days) - I just knew there and then we’d win, what memories !

Andrew Vause.
I was 16 and my mate was 15. He'd only started going about 2 months earlier and at that point had never seen Rovers lose. So he was a bit of a lucky charm. I stopped at his house the night before and I remember not daring to sleep too heavily (not that that was going to be possible anyway with the impending excitement) and setting 3 alarm clocks such that we didn't sleep in and miss Mrs. Thorpe's bus from Ponte. Sure enough we were up in time and waiting for the bus at Stringer's petrol station in Pontefract. 8.00 am already a fag and a can of bitter on, although me and my mate decided to take it steady as we wanted to savour every moment of the day. I remember we'd just got to Newark and one of the supporters Kersh, with his halved Blue and White face asking Ann if we could stop. We did and it was about 20 privates on parade on the hard shoulder as the Bitter etc had kicked in. I remember getting to Leicester Forest and there was a coach full of Derby County fans who'd wished us well until my mate, whose only available blue and white scarf was a Leicester City one showing it to them as our coach left, the well wishing turning to two digit salutes. The grey weather turning to sunshine as we got toward Peterborough. Then the unthinkable happened!!!! Gearbox crunch. We were broken down, we were going to miss the final after all. As luck would have it we got a replacement coach and thankfully we made it with about half an hour to go. Seeing Wembley for my first and only time. Thinking it was a bit scruffier than I'd have imagined on the exterior. On entering the field the green hallowed turf. The band and Todd Carty who played Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill coming to our end with his thumbs up. Going wild when Hobbsy scored after a few minutes, thinking this is beyond our wildest dreams. Lee Crooks missing a straightforward penalty just in front of us. Going to the toilet and hearing a huge boo, only on returning to learn that Gilbert our star man had been carried off. Seeing all the cameras in the Hull crowd flashing as Lee Crooks took a conversion. Thinking, as Mark said at 12-5 down that that was it. I still had my Catholic faith in those days and I remember saying a prayer, though you shouldn't really pray for gain. Quinny, we thought at the time unbelievably taking 'two' when we were seven down and needing a miracle. I think at 12-5 down there was a point, though I have never seen the playback, when I remember Kenny Kellett or Paul Lyman having a chance and bombing it. David Hobbs or whoever I can't remember had a drop goal attempt that soared over but also remembering Mr.Whitfield not allowing it as Trevor Skerrett or Mick Crane had indicated that I think Gary Kemble had touched it in flight. Quinny's winning kick. me and lad I knew actually started to cry as Mr.Whitfield turned his back to us and signalled what would become utopia. Still tears as the ball soared over, unbelievable emotion. But it wasn't over, I remember James Leuluai their New Zealand test centre kicking the ball through and having a foot race with Quinn himself, surely Leuluai their star man would break our hearts, but Quinn unbelievable beat him on the foot race and dived on the ball. Everyone now whistling, even though we were listening for an electronic beep. Loads of us not hearing the bleep but seeing Gary Siddall jumping up and down like a mad man signalling to us that that meant the game was over. Loads of us just collapsing in a heap of tears of joy and disbelief. 15000 Rovers singing ' ee i adio' and 'We shall not be moved' as Terry Hudson lifted the trophy. Finding the coach eventually after the game a lot if Hull fans magnanimous in defeat. After about two hours of the homeward Journey we stopped at this country pub for 30 mins. I remember having a skin full in these 30 mins, now was the time to celebrate. Getting of the coach and making last orders at the Blackmore Head, feeling so proud to have the Rovers colours on. And final, getting home about half eleven expecting seeing my dad Jubilant ( he'd stayed at home) only for him to tell me to get to bed cos in his mind I was drunk. He was ok in the morning though ( which is more than I was) he'd just been a bit dejected at having to work and missing going.

I'd been to all games leading up to the final, apart from Salford away...can't remember why I didn't make that one. I was 12 years old in May 1983, my big brother (Gary Siddall) was playing. I remember being disappointed that he was on the sub's bench, but had been struggling with an injury in the lead up to the final. At least he was in the 15 though. In the days before the final we trimmed our house on Eastbourne Avenue up with blue and white crepe paper; cutting a cardboard cut-out of the cup and covering it with foil, putting twisty blue and white crepe paper 'ribbons' on it- that was our window display. Every house around us trimmed up too, and all the shops on Station Lane were decorated; they looked fabulous. On the day I remember parking up near the ground with my mum and dad, meeting my pregnant sister and husband, and walking along Wembley Way, it seeming really long and full of the excitement of loads of fans and different colours. Once inside the stadium, I'd never seen so many fans in one place before and the noise was immense! I just remember not being able to believe that we were leading against the might of Hull; thinking the drop goal was over without being touched; wondering when Gary was going to get on the field and being proud when he did; and then not hardly bearing to breathe whilst Steve Quinn was taking that penalty kick, but going crazy when it went over! And as Andrew says, seeing my brother jumping up and down in the air when the final hooter went...that was when I started crying (and I'm not a crying person!). Watching Terry Hudson lifting the cup to our right with those blue and white ribbons on it. Coming out of the ground and Hull KR fans coming up and shaking our hands; but also the Hull fans being gracious in defeat and saying we deserved the win. Going back up the M1 and waving to every car and coach that had Fev fans in it and feeling so proud. And then in the week following, seeing Station Lane packed as the lads brought the cup back home, even the rain couldn't stop me smiling! Also, I couldn't wait to get back to school to brag to my schoolfriends (as I went to St Wilfrids they were mainly Cas and Leeds fans!) This is one of the best days of my life, and one that will stay with me forever.

I was only 11 years old but I can remember the semi final and the final, one of my favourite memories was stood on a wall near some traffic lights outside the ground with my whole family waving at all the coaches going past , Hull KR fans with blue and white scarfs on and cas fans with black and white on. I can remember walking down Wembley way seeing the Twin Towers and Fev fans singing along, as usual we were well outnumbered but all the neutrals were on our side and helping us drown out the Hull masses. The atmosphere was unrivalled in the ground throughout the game and at the final whistle everyone was deliriously happy. Really enjoyed the blog Mark, it's brought back some great memories. Cheers. Let's hope we can return one day soon and do it all again in the new Wembley so a new generation can experience the magic of a final experience.

Maureen T-k
I travelled down to London on the train with my 3 kids, ages 10, 7 and 18 months and hubby, we went on the Friday morning as we were staying with relatives down in Lambeth till the Monday. My Dad travelled down on the supporters coach on the Saturday and I along with the 2 eldest kids met him there. We were sat down at Wembley as standing was still an option at that time, sat behind us were St. Helens fans who were routing for us on the day, there were also Hull fans sat amongst us as well. Everything was good natured and the banter flowed. I remember closing my eyes when Steve Quinn went to kick that last goal, so never saw it till I watched the recording, but what I did witness was all the Fev fans and the neutrals going absolutely mental after that. After the final whistle the Saints fans were hugging us and the Hull fans were shaking our hands saying the best team won. I missed the team bringing the cup back due to still being in London, but that game, the atmosphere and the spirit of the fans and the team will live with me forever.
Glory days!!!

Sharon Jordan
I remember my dad had to work 2 overtime shifts to pay for me and my 2 sister to have new outfits for the day, we also took Peter smiths daughter Karen with us on bus, Peter wasn't too happy we put blue spay in her hair, he forgave us in end.... Was an amazing day

Paul Gibbins
My dad spotting me in the crowd when he did his lap of honour and pushing the steward away so he could climb the tall fence to see us with his medal

Al Jefferson
I remember the banner “Hull have the kiwis, Fev have the polish.”

Mark Butler
I remember missing Hobbsy’s last try because my dad had to take me to the toilet, we heard a huge roar and my dad said " well it looks like Hull have scored " we got out of toilets and all the Cappers were jumping up and down, I think he was a tad pissed off but he never said owt to me bless him, and the rest is history as they say !

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