Richard de la Riviere looks back at what happened in Rugby League over the years on this day: 9th September
Yorkshire kicked off the 1981 County Championship with a 21-15 win over Lancashire at Castleford, as they went about trying to take the title from Cumbria, the 1980 winners.
This was the 75th Rugby League County Championship, with Lancashire having won 34 titles (including joint titles) since its 1895-96 inception, ahead of Yorkshire on 23, Cumbria on 15 and Cheshire on one, although the latter were no longer competing. On four occasions, no winner had emerged from the annual competition.
Both sides fielded strong line-ups, with Keith Mumby, John Joyner, Les Dyl, John Holmes, Steve Nash, Jeff Grayshon, David Ward, Peter Smith and Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton among the Yorkshire picks, while Lancashire fielded Des Drummond, David Stephenson, Ken Kelly, Andy Gregory, Mike O’Neill, Nicky Kiss, Brian Case, Mick Adams and Harry Pinner.
And it was Bradford prop Grayshon who was adjudged the best player on the field, while Leeds rake Ward won the scrums 13-3 and scored a last-minute, icing-on-the-cake try.
Yorkshire’s other frontrower, John Millington from Hull Kingston Rovers, also had a fine game by “serving up a series of punishing drives” according to the Rothmans Yearbook, which was in its second year.
Yorkshire, coached by the Hull legend Johnny Whiteley, also overcame any pre-match worries over the choice of referee. The job went to Robin Whitfield from Widnes, whose brother Colin, of the Salford club happened to be playing fullback for the visitors.
Castleford centre Joyner scored twice for the Tykes with Mumby, Dyl and Ward also crossing. Cas second-rower David Finch kicked three goals.
For Lancashire, coached by Swinton’s Tom Grainey, Drummond scored twice – one of them from 70 metres, with Widnes wing Keith Bentley also touching down. Whitfield kicked three goals.
The only disappointment of the occasion was the sparse crowd of just 1,222.
Both sides still had to face then Cumbrians in the triangular tournament – Lancashire a week later at Wigan, before Yorkshire travelled to Whitehaven on the 23rd of the month.
Warrington suffer record defeat
Bradford Bulls inflicted Warrington’s record defeat, 84-12, as they absolutely annihilated the Wolves at Wilderspool on this day in 2001.
Only a season earlier, the Wolves, inspired by the genius Australian Allan Langer, had beaten the Bulls 42-32 in the corresponding fixture. But with Alfie back in Australia, Warrington’s capitulation was embarrassing.
For ten minutes, the game was actually tryless until Robbie Paul profited from the good work of his brother Henry and hooker Jimmy Lowes. Henry added his own try three minutes later and suddenly it was 14-0.
Within four minutes Michael Withers and Graham Mackay had added further four-pointers before Mackay crossed for the Bulls fifth score in ten minutes.
Leon Pryce was over next to take the score to an incredible 38-0 after just 24 minutes, although Kevin Crouthers pulled one back against his old club from a Lee Briers pass.
Mackay managed to complete his hat-trick before Withers scored his second three minutes after the restart which was quickly followed by Scott Naylor’s first try.
It took them 14 minutes to add another when Shane Rigon scored from 40 metres. Henry Paul’s conversion saw his side hit the 60-point mark and that was extended when Jamie Peacock went over seven minutes later.
Ian Knott scored the Wolves’ second, before another Bulls blast saw Pryce, Naylor and Withers cross in the final eight minutes, the latter try bringing up Withers’ hat-trick. Henry Paul ended up with ten goals and Paul Deacon four.
“We recognised it was going to be a tough game,” said Bradford’s coach Brian Noble.
“However from the word go, we were superior in every department.”
His opposite number, Steve Anderson, was understandably less happy.
“It was a particularly emotional dressing shed prior to the game and the players’ minds were just not on the footy.”
He was referring to the fact that it was to be the last appearances at Wilderspool for Tawera Nikau, Danny Nutley, Ian Sibbit, Martin Masella and Alan Hunte.
The win kept Bradford at the top of the pile ahead of Wigan on points difference, and a final-day win against Leeds would secure top spot.
The Wolves were left in seventh, but were 11 points short of Leeds who occupied fifth, the final play-off berth.
Tigers go ton-up against Hornets
Six years later, the game saw another end-of-season shellacking as Castleford visited Rochdale in National League One and topped the one-hundred point mark to secure the Minor Premiership by a point from Widnes.
Michael Shenton opened the scoring in the third minute and went on to complete a hat-trick of tries, a feat that was matched by man of the match Andrew Henderson and Danny Williams.
Danny Brough scored two tries and also 11 goals, while Mark Leafa also finished with a brace.
With 50 points already racked up by half-time, Stuart Donlan, Ryan Boyle, Anthony Thackeray, Joe Westerman and Ryan Clayton posted tries as the Tigers ran up an incredible 106-0 triumph.
Rochdale were left second bottom and only avoided the wooden spoon because Doncaster had had six points deducted earlier in the season. Both clubs were relegated.
Cas, meanwhile, went on to beat Widnes in the Grand Final to secure their return to Super League.