The 1937/38 season was the most successful that Barrow Rugby League Club had enjoyed up to that date – and could easily have been the best in the club’s history.

The team narrowly missed out on winning the Rugby League Championship, the Lancashire League, the Lancashire Cup and the Rugby League Challenge Cup. As The Mail reported at the time 'They might have taken at least one cup but for the stress of playing nine matches in 15 days at the end of the season. The system, not better teams, robbed them of full honours'.

Matches postponed due to winter weather had to be squeezed in during April and, between April 9 and April 23, Barrow played seven league games. They enjoyed a day’s break between each of the first three but then an incredible five games in six days.

It was hardly surprising then that, worn down and weakened by injuries, they lost three of those games. They still finished fourth, just three points behind leaders Hunslet, so it is easy to see how they might have topped the table.

As it was, they travelled to Hunslet for the play-off semi-final and lost 7-13. In the Lancashire League (a table based on results against other clubs in the county) they also finished second, two points adrift.

They had already reached one final earlier in the season when they played Warrington for the Lancashire Cup but they lost 4-8 despite the Wire having a player sent off for foul play early in the game.

The Challenge Cup run started in February with the rout of the amateurs from Maryport. Full-back Fred French, a New Zealander, kicked 12 goals as Barrow ran in no less than 19 tries of which winger Jim Thornburrow scored six in the 83-3 win. Bramley did not present much of an obstacle in the second round either, Barrow winning 26-4, but next up was a formidable Leeds side. More than 20,000 people somehow squeezed into Craven Park to see the game, paying £1,084 (the first time that the club’s gate receipts reached four figures). A drop goal by Welsh fly-half Ieun Lloyd settled the issue as Barrow won an epic struggle 7-5.

So, to Huddersfield’s Fartown ground for the semi-final against Halifax and a crowd of 31,898 saw Billy Little drop a goal to win with the last kick and Barrow were on their way to Wembley for the first time.

The team for the final was: French; Cumberbatch, Higgin, McDonnell, Thornburrow; Lloyd, Little; Rawlings, McKeating, Skelly, Troup, Ayres, Marklew. The opposition was Salford, managed by Lance Todd and led by Gus Risman.

The final drew a crowd of 53,000 to Wembley and, according to reports, they saw a game dominated by defence and kicking for position with both sides reluctant to open play up. Barrow had a clear edge up front, winning the scrums at a rate of two to one, but were handicapped when captain Alec Troup injured a knee.

French for Barrow and Risman for Salford first missed and then kicked penalty goals before Risman gave his team a 4-2 interval lead with a drop goal. Little equalised with a drop goal of his own around the hour mark but with time running out neither side could create a clear opening.

Then, in the final minute, a clearing kick came to the Salford full-back on halfway.

He kicked ahead and gave chase with Barrow trying to gather the bouncing ball, scooped up by Alec Troup but then coming loose again before Salford centre Albert Gear was first to it. He kicked ahead, collected and dived over. There was not even time to restart after the conversion was missed so Barrow’s first visit to Wembley ended in a 4-7 defeat.

Barrow did manage to win one trophy that season. A week after the Challenge Cup final they played and beat Warrington in the Whitehaven Charity Cup.

It must have been small consolation after the other trophies that had got away.