Crooks Recalls His Lasting Memories Of 1982 Replay

Crooks Recalls His Lasting Memories Of 1982 Replay

Lee Crooks has recalled his lasting memories of the 1982 Challenge Cup Final Replay, some 40 years ago today!

Club News

Lee Crooks has recalled his lasting memories of the 1982 Challenge Cup Final Replay, some 40 years ago today!

The Black & Whites lifted the famous trophy for the second time as they defeated Widnes 18-9 at Elland Road, the first time in 68 years.

A brace from club captain David Topliss and a try from star full-back Gary Kemble, as well as a match deciding score from Crooks himself secure the victory, one of the most memorable nights in club history.

Looking back on the original final, Crooks said: “With the original final, I’d gone to the Hull Derby final as a spectator a couple of years earlier, and the atmosphere was just incredible; but I didn’t really think I’d be out there on the field myself just two years later and be part of that spectacle.

“The biggest thing I can remember was walking out into the stadium and the wall of noise hitting you – it was an unbelievable feeling, with 90,000 people there.

“The actual size of the Old Wembley was a lot bigger than the new one, and with the low fixed roof and packed stands it just made an unbelievable noise when you walked out of the tunnel.

“I started on the bench that day, and I warmed up about ten times before Arthur actually put me on the field with about twenty minutes to go in the match. My legs went to jelly as soon as I got on; I remember a lot of the talk in the build up being about whether the pitch takes it out of you, with the pressure and the tension, and it did in those first few minutes.

“So if you went to Wembley not fully fit, that pitch would get you, and that’s certainly happened to some players in the past.”

After coming off the bench in the Wembley final, several changes to the side meant that 18-year old Crooks got the chance to start in the replay.

Crooks came into the side alongside Clive Sullivan, James Leuluai, Tony Dean, Tony Duke, and Keith Tindall, with Dane O’Hara, Terry Day, Kevin Harkin, Mick Crane, Sammy Lloyd and Ron Wileman as Arthur Bunting rung in the changes after a hectic schedule going into the match, including a Premiership Final against the Chemics just three days prior.

“Arthur explained to me why I was on the bench in the first leg was because he wanted an experienced goal-kickers in Sammy Lloyd on the pitch with them expecting the game to be tight and goal-kicking possibly proving crucial, and he was right, so it proved to be a right decision.

“But I got my chance in the replay. It was again a massive experience; to have that many people from Hull in one place, with our fans outnumbering the Widnes fans by a huge number. The kop end was awash with supporters.”

While Crooks’ memories of the match itself are scarce, the post match celebrations will live long in the memory.

“We partied long into the night after that one. We used to like a drink on our own afterwards just to savour the moment together as a group, and soak up the atmosphere as a group.

“Knocker was at the front of the bus as we pulled away from Elland Road, as as we got to the motorway, he told to driver to slow down and let the bus with the wives and families on to take over our bus.

“As the wives bus drove off into the distance, he told the driver to pull off the motorway and we ended up at The Garden Gate in Hunslet, which in those days was a really big Rugby League pub. We got there about about half ten and didn’t leave until three in the morning with the cup under our arm .

“And the day after was just as memorable when we paraded the trophy around the city, and something we’ll never forget.”

STORY SPONSOR