Six of the Best: Magical Wembley final moments
TotalRL.com’s Challenge Cup Final buildup rolls on with our Six of the Best feature – and this week, we could only realistically talk about the Wembley showpiece.
Despite a brief sabbatical between 2000 and 2006 due to the rebuilding of the stadium, Wembley is very much the spiritual home of the Challenge Cup, and this Saturday looks like providing one of the all-time classic cup finals. However, we asked our readers this week for their magical Wembley moments from down the years – with some very special examples suggested to us. We had to whittle them down to six – so here are the magic set of six this week!
Sterling and Kenny go toe-to-toe – 1985 Challenge Cup Final
First suggested to us by @LodyBalls1973 on Twitter, arguably the greatest ever final in Challenge Cup history could not be ignored! However, although the game itself was something special, it was the tussle between two of the finest Australian halves in the history of the game that many of you suggested on Twitter.Seeing Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny try and carry Hull and Wigan to cup glory at Wembley is something you described as “magical”, “spine-tingling”, and a “once in a lifetime moment”. It certainly was worth the admission fee alone!
Darren Turner’s ‘winning’ try – 1998 Challenge Cup Final
Another popular suggestion featured perhaps the biggest upset in Challenge Cup history – would a Castleford win this Saturday be just as big an upset? Sheffield’s success against the mighty Wigan back in 1998 is long regarded as the stuff of legend, and the moment when Darren Turner touched down to make it 17-2 was a hugely significant moment.
With Mark Aston’s conversion, it meant Wigan would have had to stage the biggest comeback in the history of cup finals at that point to overhaul the Eagles. And as we know, that didn’t happen, and John Kear’s men held on to create a piece of history.
The heroics of Halifax’s John Pendlebury – 1987 Challenge Cup Final
1987 represented a hugely significant year in the history of the Challenge Cup – it was the year in which Wigan suffered their last defeat in the competition until 1996, as they went on that extraordinary run of success. But it also gave fans perhaps the most dramatic final, as Halifax nailed a drop goal to defeat St Helens 19-18 thanks to the boot of John Pendlebury. However, it was some last-gasp heroics from Pendlebury which secured the win – as a diving tackle on Mark Elia saved a certain score – and brought the cup to West Yorkshire. Incidentally, Wigan fan @DrP1973 tweeted us to say he was in the St Helens end that day – a happy day for him!
Wigan nil their great rivals – 1989 Challenge Cup Final
Of course, Wigan won last year’s Challenge Cup in clinical fashion, as they nilled Hull FC to get their hands on the trophy that became their own in the late 1980s. However, before that success, they actually nilled another side in 1989 – their great rivals, St Helens. Ellery Hanley was given the Lance Todd trophy as Wigan won 27-0.
Martin Offiah scores THAT try – 1994 Challenge Cup Final
Another Wigan moment – but there had to be a few, given how they’ve won the cup an astonishing 19 times! This one is from the 1994 Challenge Cup final, as Martin Offiah scored perhaps the finest try in cup final history – romping 90 metres past a whole host of Leeds defenders to open the scoring in sensational fashion at Wembley. Wigan would go on to win the cup yet again, but it was Offiah’s try that sticks firmly in the memory.
The Steve Prescott Final – 1996 Challenge Cup Final
It was dubbed the ‘Steve Prescott Final’ by @carty1972, and who are we to argue with that! The greatest comeback in Challenge Cup Final history was simply sensational to watch, and it was largely inspired by the great man himself. Alongside Bobbie Goulding’s brilliance, Prescott’s two tries lit up Wembley in remarkable fashion, and cemented his status as one of the finest full-backs in the game. Simply put, there was no way we could talk about iconic Wembley moments without mentioning the late, great Steve Prescott MBE.