In this particular season Wigan retained the cup
for the first time in their history. One year on from beating
Workington at Wembley they were on the road to the twin towers
A few changes had been made in the off season
prior to this year. Veteran full back Jackie Cunliffe had
semi-retired with South African Fred Griffiths being brought in as
regular full back. They also signed a centre from Leigh called
Keith Holden for £6,000 in October 1958.
Wigan made a poor start to this season. Leigh
knocked them out in Round 2 of the Lancashire Cup and they lost six
of their first twelve matches in the league. But from mid November up
until the cup final, Wigan had won 26 out of 30 matches to finish
second in the league. Sadly one of those defeats was in the
Championship Play Off Semi Final the week before Wembley at home to Hunslet, who subsequently lost to St Helens in the final.
Still the cup would provide Wigan with glory and the road to Wembley began with a home tie
against Leeds. They'd always been a demon side for Wigan in the
Challenge Cup but not this year. Wigan won 12-5 at Central Park
with tries from Dave Bolton and Brian McTigue.
Round 2 saw Wigan drawn at home again,
ironically to Hunslet. Tough tie on paper but their was no sign of
the Play Off misery that would later follow because Wigan won easy
22-4 with tries from Billy Boston (2), Eric Ashton and Bolton.
A trip to mid table Halifax was the result of
the Quarter Final draw. Fax had beaten Wigan at Thrum Hall 25-12
very early on in the season but in this tie, Wigan progressed with
a comfortable 26-0 success. A Boston hat-trick was added to by Mick
Sullivan and Bolton.
Leigh, Hull and Featherstone joined Wigan in the
semi final draw and the result saw an all Wigan semi final after we
drew our suburb dwellers Leigh. The tie (you guessed it) was played
at Station bloody Road, Swinton. Wigan had to sweat all afternoon
in winning 5-0 - Sullivan scoring the only try.
Hull came out of the other semi to meet Wigan in
the final. Unlike the previous season their was no good or bad luck
in the Wigan cup final team sheet - all 13 players had played in
every round en route to Wembley. That didn't stop Joe Egan toying with the idea of
playing 19 year old Terry Entwistle at scrum half, in place of the
year before's Lance Todd winner Rees Thomas, but they opted against that.
Eric Ashton meanwhile needed a pain killing injection but was
declared fit to play.
Many of Wigan's recent cup finals had been tight
defensive affairs but this final was dominated by Wigan
against a Hull side who's tactics were very negative.
Wigan took control pretty early with an 8th
minute try from Keith Holden. He broke clear from 20 metres out to
score close to the posts. Fred Griffith's conversion made it 5-0.
Hull narrowed the gap with a penalty goal from
Arthur Keegan four minutes later but Wigan were in for a second try
on 22 minutes. Dave Bolton intercepted twenty metres from his own
line and sent Mick Sullivan racing 70 metres to a score in the left
corner. Good conversion from Griffiths made it 10-2.
A third try came on the half hour. Another
breakaway score - Brian McTigue sent Bolton racing 60 metres under
the posts - easy conversion for Griffiths making it 15-2.
Hull decided to kick another penalty goal soon
after but before half time, Wigan were over again after Boston
crashed over in the right corner. Griffiths was on fire with the
boot. He kicked off the touchline to make it 20-4 at the break.
This is what I mean about Hull's negativity.
Your 20-4 down at half time and then your into the second half.
They decide to kick not one but two more penalty goals. The latter
of which came in the 58th minute. So they were 20-6 down with 22
minutes left and needed three converted tries to take the lead -
yet they kick another penalty which left them still needing three
tries. Madness, surely?
Anyway they did kick penalties and two minutes
after they'd made it 20-8, McTigue was over to seal the contest
with a close range effort. Griffiths conversion made it 25-8, which
left Hull needing four tries to win the game.
In truth, Wigan had dominated Hull all afternoon
and it was no surprise when a fifth try came in the 70th minute.
Fantastic try this one. Bolton was heading into touch in his own
half but, rugby union style, he just hoofed the ball forward into
open space. Boston raced up the middle of the field and touched
down, just before it went dead in goal. "Oh theres a happy Boston"
remarked Eddie Waring on the BBC commentary. Griffiths converted to
make it 30-8.
The only negative on the day for
Wigan was that Hull did eventually manage to claim a try. Scrum
Half Tommy Finn claimed a soft effort that perhaps only came due to
a now very tired Wigan defence that had worked hard all afternoon.
A conversion for Keegan and a late penalty for Griffiths rounded
off the scoring.
So Wigan had won 30-13 and had retained the cup
they'd won the previous season, Brian McTigue being awarded the
Lance Todd Trophy for his tireless efforts in the pack.
Hull did gain some revenge by ending Wigan's efforts of a cup
three-peat at the quarter final stage in the following season but
it was really the league title that Wigan wanted and they went on
to win that, whilst Hull lost at Wembley again to Wakefield.
Wigan were soon back at Wembley in both 1961 and 1963 but sadly
lost of both occasions to first St Helens and Wakefield. But they
would win again in 1965 and we'll look at that in the next cup