The Challenge Cup, The Holy Grail of Rugby League I like to call it. So many memories of great players gracing Wembley over the years. Legends have been made in some fantastic finals. As supporters of Salford we have waited longer than most to watch our side walk out on the hallowed turf.
It’s been 50 years since our last visit to the National Stadium. A lot has changed not only in rugby league but in general everyday life since 1969.
Those players that walked out with chairman Brian Snape that day will always be remembered. Although we came up short against Castleford, Salford RLFC were definitely on the cusp of glory.
It’s fair to see we’ve had to be very patient as supporters. The other eleven Super League teams have all played at Wembley in a final since our visit along with Championship sides, Sheffield (1998), Leigh (1971), Bradford (2003), Featherstone (1983), Halifax (1988) and Widnes (1993).
Salford have certainly come close with defeats in the Semi finals of 1988,1997 and who could forget the heartbreaking defeat against Sheffield Eagles in 1998. Our exciting cup run of 2017 also ended in semi final defeat to Wigan.
Currently lying in sixth place in The Super League table, Ian Watson’s side with a small squad have continued to punch above their weight whilst competing well in 2019. The team spirit in this squad has definitely got what it takes and with a bit of luck the dream of Wembley could become a reality.
It means so much to the supporters and this has rubbed off on the players.
Hull Kingston Rovers have struggled to find any sort of consistency so far this season. Having made a number of high profile signings coach Tim Sheens will be hoping a cup run can kick start The Robins stalling season.
Rovers last appearance at Wembley wasn’t so long ago in 2015. A 50-0 hammering off Leeds Rhinos perhaps a day to forget. Beaten finalists in 1981 and 1986, the late Roger Millward guided Hull kr to glory in 1980 beating city rivals Hull 10-5 in a memorable clash.
Brian Lockwood holds aloft the Challenge cup in 1980.
Memorable Cup Ties From Yesteryear.
30th December 1972 Hull kr 13 Salford 15. John player Trophy semi final.
3rd December 1974 Salford 27 Hull kr 10. BBC floodlit Trophy semi final.
15th March 1981 Hull kr 18 Salford 9. Challenge cup round three.
28th February 2003 Hull kr 2 Salford 12. Challenge cup round five.
20th May 2011 Salford 0 Hull kr 25. Challenge cup round five.
A match to remember Salford
Hull Kr 2 Salford 12 Challenge cup 2003.
A dark, cold and wet February night in East Hull seemed a long way from the razzmatazz of summer rugby. With driving rain and the wind blowing a gale from the North Sea close by this was always going to be a tricky tie.
The pitch started to cut up early with mud that it was hard to tell the two sides apart.
It wasn’t a night for fancy off loads and miracle plays but one for honest toil and endeavour. Karl Harrison’s side of 2003 had plenty of that but also had a steely determination and professionalism. I suppose some might say an edge to the way they played and this become more evident as this season progressed.
Despite the low score their was plenty of excitement. Alan Hunte and Stuart Littler crossing for tries which Gavin Clinch converted. The Robins only points coming from a Lynton Stott penalty goal.
It was becoming a really exciting cup run for the City Reds after victories at home to feisty French side Toulouse and on the road in Cumbria at Barrow.
The 2-12 victory at Craven Park set up a home quarter final with St. Helens.
The teams that night were;
Poucher, Pinkney, Stott, Farrell, Blanchard, Parker, Murdock, Wilson, Pickering, Bovill, Sullivan, Aston, Smith.
Subs, Walker, Cochrane, Andrews and Fletcher.
Salford City Reds,
Flowers, Platt, Littler, Hunte, Arnold, Beverley, Clinch, Baynes, Alker, Coley, Baldwin, Lowe, Charles.
Subs, P.Highton, D. Highton, Haggerty and Gorski.
Referee, Richard Silverwood.
They played for both.
Here are a selection of players to have represented The Robins and The Red Devils,
Greg Austin, Colin Dixon, Greg Burke, Chris Charles, Michael Dobson, Sean Gleeson, Darrell Goulding, David Hodgson, Lee Jewitt, Justin Carney, Jordan Walne, Phil Joseph, Tommy Lee, Tyrone McCarthy, Craig Murdock, Cory Paterson, Gareth Price, Scott Taylor, Tony Puletua, Richard Smith, Iain Thornley, Kris Welham and Todd Carney.
After over 400 appearances for Salford Colin Dixon finished his playing career with Hull kr.
After consecutive victories over London Broncos and Leeds Rhinos, Salford have grown in confidence on the back of a very positive Easter. In recent weeks Robert Lui’s partnership with fellow halfback Jackson Hastings has really blossomed. Josh Jones and George Griffin continue to impress with their gruelling eighty minute performances as well as a pack that has dominated of late.
The Robins have had a disappointing Easter conceding 50 points on Good Friday and Easter Monday against Hull and Warrington respectively. Battling displays against Leeds at Headingley and at home to St. Helens last weekend has given Tim Sheens and his side something to build on.
The two side have met once this season and it was a thrilling encounter. Salford stormed back in that match to take the points with a 22-24 victory.
Whoever gets the win on Saturday will be in the last eight of the competition, The Quarter Finals.
With the sixth round draw throwing up some mouth watering ties their could be a few big teams put out of the competition this weekend.
Momentum is the name of the game for Salford Red Devils both on and off the field. Another good cup run will certainly grab people’s attention and perhaps a Cup Final could propel Salford to the next level.
This match looks a tremendous prospect with added spice of player connections at both clubs. The Red Devils could potentially have Adam Walker, Tyrone McCarthy, Ken Sio and Kris Welham in their squad who all represented Hull kr at Wembley in 2015.
The Robins have Weller Hauraki, Ryan Lannon, Tommy Lee and Lee Jewitt on their playing Roster for 2019.
Josh Drinkwater and Danny McGuire have proved a more than useful half back combination on their day and the pace in the back line from Craig Hall, Ryan Shaw, Ben Crooks and Will Oakes amongst others will have to be dealt with.
The forward battle should be very exciting and could be were the match is won and lost. Joel Tomkins can be a real handful and hookers Danny Addy and Shaun Lunt are both very clever around the ruck with good ball distribution.
This is another match not to be missed.
Safe travels and enjoy the game everyone.