Today is the 38th anniversary of Hull FC’s Challenge Cup triumph in 1982 – only their second success in the competition. Club Historian Bill Dalton was present at the game and recalls that fantastic night at Elland Road.
Widnes had recovered from a league hammering late in the season to look likely cup winners at Wembley. Now it was Hull’s turn to show remarkable powers of recovery after the Premiership Final routing by the Chemics, only four days before the replay.
The game engendered such enthusiasm that supporters were still flocking into the ground 20 minutes after kick-off. However, their conduct was impeccable and earned praise from the authorities at a time when football violence was a major problem throughout the country.
Hull and Widnes served up a feast of rugby football to satisfy the most discerning rugby league devotee. The Airlie Birds scored four tries to the single effort scored by Stuart Wright, who so nearly wrapped up the Trophy for Widnes at Wembley, only to be denied by referee Fred Lindop spotting that he had touched down on a Hull FC boot!
Hull, who had to introduce two veterans in Clive Sullivan and hooker Tony Duke in place of the injured Dane O’Hara and Ronnie Wileman, started strongly and gained a position early on for Lee Crooks to attempt a drop-goal which narrowly sailed wide.
Mick Burke opened the scoring for Widnes with a penalty in the 18th minute after ‘Knocker’ Norton was caught offside. Their 2-0 lead lasted for some 15 minutes until Norton and skipper David Topliss created the space for Gary Kemble to score near the posts. Lee Crooks converted to give Hull a lead which they never lost.
On the stroke of halftime, Topliss and James Leuluai worked a sublime ‘runaround’ and I swear however hard one tries to see the ball returned to Topliss, it is nigh on impossible to pick it.
Mention must also be made on Kemple’s role in the back line as he moved the opposite way to Topliss, thus taking opposing full-back Burke with him and out of Toplliss’s path to the line. So, halftime was called with Hull in front by 8-2.
Widnes came back into contention after the break, but it was not until the 57th minute that they closed the gap with another Burke penalty.
Straightaway, however, scrum-half Andy Gregory executed a brilliant kick and regather to sprint some 40 yards and put Wright over in the right corner. Burke narrowly missed the conversion, so Hull were clinging on at 8-7.
Some four minutes later, however, Hull redressed the balance when Topliss, receiving a pass from Norton, jinked his way through four defenders to score by the posts in front of Hull’s delirious supporters. Crooks kicked the goal and Burke replied immediately with another penalty.
The closing minutes, though, belonged to the young Lee Crooks, as he scampered over in the 73rd minute direct from dummy-half almost under the posts. The formality of the conversion closed the game at 18-9, the same score by which Widnes had succeeded at Wembley 12 months previously against Hull KR.
The celebrations went on around the Leeds area until late into the night and for quite a few days back in Hull. ‘Old Faithful’ raised the rafters of many a hostelry and we could all say truly that ‘We Won in Style’.
Hull FC: G. Kemble, C. Sullivan, J. Leuluai, S. Evans, P. Prendiville, D. Topliss, A. Dean, K. Tindall, A. Duke, C. Stone, T. Skerrett, L. Crooks, S. Norton.
Hull FC Bench: T. Day, M. Crane.
Widnes: M. Burke, S. Wright, K. O’Loughlin, E. Cunningham, J. Basnett, E. Hughes, A. Gregory, M. O’Neill, K. Elwell, B. Lockwood, L. Gorley, E. Prescott, M. Adams.
Widnes Bench: T. Myler, C. Whitfield.