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Monday, 25 May 2015

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SATURDAY, October 1 1983 is a date rugby fans will long remember.PLAYING at Wembley in a Rugby League Challenge Cup Final is the pinnacle for a rugby player.In 1951 Barrow met Wigan failing to score in a 10-0 scoreline.

Against all the odds Barrow pulled off a shock Lancashire Cup Final victory against the mighty Widnes at Central Park Wigan.

However, was it a shock?

Barrow saw off the challenge of Whitehaven, Salford and Warrington on the way to the final and were to become second division champions the same season.

Only the Whitehaven game was at home with Barrow scoring a 13-6 victory over their Cumbrian neighbours.

Tries came from Terry Moore and Les Wall plus two goals from Ian Ball and a drop goal from Steve Tickle.Round two provided a trip to the Willows and a tough tie against Salford.For Barrow David Cairns was on form bagging a brace of tries before slotting over a drop goal.Ball added two goals with a solitary penalty being Salford’s reply.A semi-final tie took them to Wilderspool and in a thrilling encounter Barrow squeezed home 19-18.David Cairns and Ian Ball crossed for a try apiece, with latter adding three goals and a drop, one of three from Barrow.Cairns slotted over another drop goal but the amazing third came from none other than workaholic loose forward Steve Mossop.

The final at Central Park saw Barrow facing a star studded Widnes side including international half backs Tony Myler and Andy Gregory.

Widnes had won the trophy five times in the previous nine years.

In 1983 they had seen off the challenge of Wigan, Leigh and Swinton and went into the final as red hot favourites.

The game was only minutes old when Eddie Symala and Widnes Kiwi Test forward Kevin Tamati were sent to the sin-bin for exchanging blows, and it is reputed that the blows continued in the players tunnel.

Soon to spend time in the bin was Gregory who flattened David Cairns off the ball and though Cairns went onto outfox his opposite number, he remembers little more of the game.

The elusive scrum-half Cairns had just provided the pass to Andy Whittle, who brushed aside two defenders to feed Ralph McConnell, who touched down.

Ian Ball added the goal, 6-0.

Joe Lydon put over a penalty goal before Steve Tickle dropped a goal and Ball landed a penalty, 9-2.

Lydon reduced the arrears before Ball wrapped up the scoring with a penalty and drop goal.

BARROW: Steve Tickle, Terry Moore, Andy Whittle, Ian Ball, Dave Milby, Ralph McConnell David Cairns, Alan Hodkinson, Les Wall, Mark McJennett Steve Herbert, Eddie Szymala, Steve Mossop. Subs Dave Elliott, Dave Tyson.

WIDNES: Mick Burke, Joe Lydon, Eric Hughes, Keiron,O,Loughlin, John Basnett,Tony Myler, Andy Gregory, Steve O,Neill, Keith Elwell, Kevin Tamati, Fred Whitfield, Eric Prescott,Mick Adams,subs Tony Garrity, Paul Houghton.


Barrow played at the old Twin Towers on no less than five occasions but were successful only once.

In 1955 they broke their Wembley duck at the third attempt beating Cumbrian neighbours Workington 21-12.

Seventeen years earlier, in 1938 Barrow’s first final ended in a last minute defeat at the hands of Salford 7-4.

The semi final that year is known as the Billy Little semi as the stocky scrum-half dropped a goal in the final seconds to gain Barrow a 4-2 win at Fartown before 31,384 supporters.

A Freddie French penalty and a Billy Little drop goal had taken Barrow to 4-3 at Wembley but a last ditch raid saw Gear touchdown for the match winning try winning it 7-4 to Salford.

Referee Mr Peel from Bradford blowing the final whistle before the game could re-start.

BARROW: Freddie French,Val Cumberbatch, John Higgins, Des McDonnell, Jim Thornburrow, Ian Lloyd, Billy Little, Gordon Rawlings, Danny McKeating, Bill Skelly, Alex Troup, Bob Ayres Alf Marklew.

Att 51,243.

The trophy was presented to Gus Risman by Sir Don Bradman the Australian cricket captain

In a two legged first round they beat Llanelli 62-14 bringing Workington to Craven Park in round two, 21,389 spectators saw a home victory 12-5.Bradford were next to visit in round three a similar gate saw Barrow scrape home 5-4.To the semi-final at Odsal Stadium (Bradford) and a Harry Stretch penalty goal in the last minute tied it at 14-14 witnessed by 57,729 spectators.Barrow cruised to victory in the replay at Huddersfields Fartown 28-13, gate 31,078.Barrow never got going in the final and came out second best before 14,000 travelling Furness fans helped swell the Wembley crowd to 94,262.

BARROW: Harry Stretch, Jim Lewthwaite, Phil Jackson, Dennis Goodwin Frank Castle, Willie Horne Ted Toohey, Frank Longman, Jack McKinnell Ralph Hartley Jack Grundy, Harry Atkinson Hughie McGregor.

From Lewthwaite to Toohey along with Grundy these were all internationals.

Four years later in 1955 the cup came to Barrow in 21-12 victory over Workington.

In the first round Barrow travelled to Dewsbury winning narrowly 11-8 before winning 13-0 at Salford in round two.In the third round again they were drawn away this time winning 15-2 at Rochdale.To the semi final at Central Park Wigan and before 25,493 spectators Barrow defeated Hunslet 9-6.

At Wembley a crows 66,513 saw Barrow see off the challenge from their Cumbrian neighbours.

The first try that day came from Vince McKeating – the first ever Barrow player to score a try in a Wembley final.

Others came from Dennis Goodwin and Frank Castle with Willie Horne adding six goals

BARROW: Clive Best, Jim Lewthwaite, Phil Jackson, Dennis Goodwin, Frank Castle, Willie Horne, Ted Toohey, Les Belshaw, Vince McKeating, Frank Barton, Jack Grundy, Reg Parker, Bill Healey.

A fine achievement having played all games away from home.

A mere two years later Barrow were back at Wembley in 1957 only to lose out to Leeds 9-7.

In round one it was the amateurs from Yokshire Wakefield Locomotive that visited Craven Park losing 53-12. Round two and visit to Castleford winning 9-2 before a third round tie at home to Huddersfield 10-0.In the semi final before 34, 628 followers Barrow and Leigh drew 2-2 at Odsal, the Wednesday night replay saw Barrow win 15-10 at Swintons Station Road before a gate of 28,431.

They failed by two points with Phil Jackson crossing for a try and Willie Horne adding two goals before 78,318.

BARROW: Joe Ball, Jim Lewthwaite, Phil Jackson, John Rea, Frank Castle, Willie Horne, Dinks Harris, George Woosey, Maurice Redhead, Reg Parker, Jack Grundy Don Wilson, Bill Healey.

Six players participated in all three finals,Lewthwaite, Jackson, Goodwin, Castle, Horne and Grundy. A decade would pass before Barrow appeared in, up to now, their last Challenge Cup final losing to Featherstone 17-12 despite Barrow going into the game as favourites.

In round one Barrow were 8-2 winners at Whitehaven before they defeated Liverpool 8-4 at home.Onto the famous Boulevard home of Hull for a third round tie and three drop goals (two points then) from the boot of former England rugby union stand off Tom Brophy did the trick as Barrow won 6-5.The semi final saw off the challenge of Dewsbury 14-9 at Swinton before 13,744 spectators.

However, Barrow failed to produce the goods and the cup went to the Yorkshirmen with one of their stars being former Barrow man Tommy Smales who crossed for a try and added three goals.

For Barrow Brophy and Mike Watson crossed for tries with Brophy, Henry Delooze and Eddie Tees adding a goal each before a crowd of 76,290.

BARROW: Eddie Tees, Bill Burgess, Jim Challinor, Harry Hughes, Tom Brophy, Ged Smith, Ivor Kelland, Maurice Redhead, Ray Hopwood, Mike Sanderson, Henry Delooze, Mike Watson.


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