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10th May 1958: Wigan 13 Workington 9 (Challenge Cup Final)
Posted by cherryandwhite on December 04 2012 - 08:30
Click: Last Match - Click: Next Match

Wigan v Workington - 1957-1958 Challenge Cup Final.
Saturday 10th May 1958. Kick Off 3:00pm at Wembley Stadium, London.

So 7 years had passed since Wigan's last cup success in 1951 and this was a Wigan side that hadn't won a trophy since 1952, the year legend Jim Sullivan had left the club after a pay dispute and ended up going to rivals St Helens.

Only veterans Ernie Ashcroft and Jackie Cunliffe remained from the 1951 squad, in fact Cunliffe had even played in the Wigan side that lost at Wembley to Wakefield in 1946. So this side was hungry for success and had the talent to produce in the form of players like Billy Boston, Eric Ashton, Mick Sullivan, Dave Bolton and Brian McTigue.

In the particular season Wigan had started brilliantly by winning 13 of their first 14 matches but defeat against Oldham in the mid October Lancashire Cup Final really did knock them back. It started a run of just 4 wins from their next 12 matches which concluded with a 12-9 home Boxing Day defeat to rivals St Helens at Central Park.

At the turn of the year, Wigan found their early season form again but that poor run I alluded to ultimately led them to missing out narrowly on a top 4 play off place for the third season in a row.

Round 1 of the cup saw Wigan draw Whitehaven at Central Park and it was comfortable progression after a hatrick from Mick Sullivan helped Wigan to a 39-10 victory. Ashton (2), Boston (2), Ernie Ashcroft and Roy Evans.

Round 2 saw Wigan given an away trip to Belle Vue to play Wakefield and I hazard a guess that, benidorm flats aside, the ground hasn't changed at all in the 53 years since. It was a much tougher tie than Round 1 but Wigan had enough to get through 11-5 thanks to tries from Ashcroft, Ashton and Boston.

The big test in this cup run came in the Quarter Final draw which gave Wigan an away trip to Oldham. The Watersheddings side had, like I said, beaten Wigan in the Lancs Cup Final earlier in this campaign but not only that, they were current league champions. They were also topping the table again in this particular season.

Eric Ashton remarked at the time that "nobody wanted" to draw Oldham and the "prospect of playing at Watersheddings did not appeal". That sums up how much of a terrible draw this was. So not many pundits would have predicted that Wigan would go to Oldham and win 8-0! Boston and McTigue claimed the tries.

You'd think beating the league champions in their own back yard would fill the team with confidence but in the semi final, in which they were drawn to play Rochdale at Swinton's Station Road, they produced a very nervy performance. They did not play well at all and it took a great try from Sullivan, to which Cunliffe converted, to basically nick a 5-3 victory.

Opponents in the final were Workington, playing their third final of the decade after winning in 1952 and losing in 1955. They had finished 3rd to Wigan's 5th in the table so this was a well balanced contest.

Wigan suffered a blow when loose forward Roy Evans fell ill with severe flu in the days leading up to the final. But his bad luck was Bernard McGurrin's gain because he came in to play in the final despite having played just once since February 1st. So he'd missed the whole cup run but got to play on the big day. Those kind of things happened in the era of no substitutes though.

Another lucky player was winger Terry O'Grady. He also had missed the whole cup run but got his chance to play at Wembley after centre Ernie Ashcroft had suffered a broken rib in an away match at Barrow. To accommodate that loss the great Boston was moved from right wing to left centre - thus breaking up the lethal Boston/Ashton combination. That was a big gamble from coach Joe Egan.

On the big day only 66,109 turned up and this low crowd was blamed on the fact the BBC were televising the match live, the first final they'd covered since 1952. The BBC were always keen on showing the cup final but the rugby league always had the opinion that coverage would harm the gate. Despite that apparently being found to be true, the BBC have covered the cup final live ever since.

Now in all four previous cup final victories, Wigan had only been behind on the scoreboard once, and that was only being 2-0 down. In this final they had to do things differently because it was Workington who scored first in the 11th minute.

Brian Edgar broke and sent Ike Southward racing towards the line. Mick Sullivan did his best to catch him in a 40 metre race but Southward had enough pace to score to the right of the posts. He then converted to make it 5-0 (remember still three points for a try back then).

Wigan though had started well. Their were no signs of the nerves that had dogged them in the semi final. They'd had their own chances before that try came with Boston and Bolton both going close.

It was no surprise then when Wigan hit back in the 17th minute. Terry O'Grady was running inside from his right wing and the defence was hanging off. He found Cunliffe, who swung left to Boston, and he sent Sullivan over in the corner. Cunliffe then hit an excellent sideline conversion to level the score at 5-5.

Wigan were now dominating and were unlucky not to score again after Rees Thomas' "try" was disallowed for a forward pass, but they did take the lead in the 28th minute. Thomas made the half break and offloaded to prop John Barton. He was 20 metres out and three defenders just couldn't halt his charge. His try was near the sticks, so an easy conversion for Cunliffe made it 10-5 to Wigan. A penalty goal from Southward narrowed that lead to 10-7 before half time.

Workington suffered blows early second half when forwards Andy Key and Brian Edgar had to temporarily leave the field for treatment. Remember, no substitutes, so injuries were a massive hindrance. They did return but that had disrupted Workington and helped Wigan had scored again.

Good run down the left from McGurrin set up the territory, then swinging right big prop McTigue went on the burst and scored in the right corner. Cunliffe couldn't convert this time but 13-7 was a two score lead.

Half an hour still remained but although Workington narrowed the lead to 13-9, with another Southward penalty goal on 61 minutes, they couldn't find the much needed try. They did go close with a Southward charging at the line again but a brilliant tackle from Norman Cherrington forced him into touch.

Wigan really had to hang on in the end, but hang on they did to win 13-9 and secure their fifth Challenge Cup success. Scrum Half Rees Thomas was awarded the Lance Todd Trophy. More importantly this triumph halted a run of five seasons without a trophy and it proved to be the first of more triumphs to come in the seasons to follow.

1958 Challenge Cup Final - Team Sheets

- Wigan Position Workington 1
1 Jack Cunliffe Full Back John McAvoy 1
2 Terry O'Grady Winger Ike Southward 2
3 Eric Ashton Centre John O'Neil 3
4 Billy Boston Centre Danny Leatherbarrow 4
5 Mick Sullivan Winger Bill Wookey 5
6 David Bolton Stand Off Harry Archer 6
7 Rees Thomas Scrum Half Frank Roper 7
8 John Barton Prop Norman Herbert 8
9 Bill Sayer Hooker Bert Eden 9
10 Brian McTigue Prop Andy Key 10
11 Norman Cherrington 2nd Row Brian Edgar 11
12 Frank Collier 2nd Row Cec Thompson 12
13 Bernard McGurrin L.Forward Benny Eve 13
- Joe Egan Coach Jim Brough -

1958 Challenge Cup Final - Score Sheet

Wigan 13 --- Workington 9
Tries (3):
Mick Sullivan
John Barton
Brian McTigue
--- Tries (1):
Ike Southward
Jack Cunliffe 2/3
--- Goals:
Ike Southward 3/4

1958 Challenge Cup Final - Scoring and Incident Pattern

11th Minute Wigan 00 Workington 03 Try: Ike Southward
- Wigan 00 Workington 05 Conversion: Ike Southward (1/1)
17th Minute Wigan 03 Workington 05 Try: Mick Sullivan
- Wigan 05 Workington 05 Conversion: Jack Cunliffe (1/1)
28th Minute Wigan 08 Workington 05 Try: John Barton
- Wigan 10 Workington 05 Conversion: Jack Cunliffe (2/2)
35th Minute Wigan 10 Workington 07 Penalty Goal: Ike Southward (2/2)
Half Time Wigan 10 Workington 07
50th Minute Wigan 13 Workington 07 Try: Brian McTigue
- Wigan 13 Workington 07 J.Cunliffe Missed Conversion (2/3)
- Wigan 13 Workington 07 I.Southward Missed Penalty Goal (2/3)
61st Minute Wigan 13 Workington 09 Penalty Goal: Ike Southward (3/4)
Full Time Wigan 13 Workington 09

Other Details

Referee: Ron Gelder (Wakefield)
Attendance: 66,109
Weather: Sunny but Breezy.

Television: Live Coverage on BBC Television - Joined in Progress at 3:20pm. Commentator: Eddie Waring
Radio: Live Commentary on BBC Home Service from 2:55pm to 4:35pm in North Regions.

BBC Television - Saturday 10th May 1958
1:45pm Horse Racing from Kempton Park
3:20pm The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final: Wigan v Workington
4:40pm The O Henry Playhouse
5:05pm Childrens Television
6:00pm News, Weather
6:05pm Six-Five Special
6:50pm Today's Sport
7:00pm "Well's Fargo"
7:25pm News Summary
7:30pm "The Money Man"
8:00pm Ted Ray Show
9:00pm Saturday Playhouse: "And No Birds Sing"
10:30pm News
10:45pm News Review
11:15pm The Borneo Story
11:45pm Weather, National Anthem, Closedown

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