Wigan's first Challenge Cup success came in the 1923-1924 season.
It was their third Challenge Cup Final having previously lost to
Broughton 4-0 in 1911 and Huddersfield 21-10 in 1920.
progression to the final began with a tough tie against neighbours
Leigh at Central Park. Both sides were competing towards the top of
the table and this was reflected in a tight contest that Wigan
nicked 7-5. South African Attie Van Heerden scored the Wigan try with a two goals from
Round 2 was much more straight forward contest as they battered
Broughton 49-0 at Central Park. Johnny Ring scored a hat-trick
whilst Tommy Howley, Syd Jerram, Fred Roffey and Van Heerden all
claimed two tries apiece.
The Quarter Finals saw Wigan drawn away at Hunslet in a much
tougher contest than the previous round. Tries from Howley (2) and
Van Heerden saw Wigan progress in a hard thought 13-8 win.
The Semi Final saw Wigan draw Barrow. The Cumbrian side were
pretty low in the table, whilst Wigan were top of the league, so we
were massive favourites in this clash at The Willows in Salford.
That huge favouritism was reflected in the final score with Wigan winning
30-5 thanks to tries from Danny Hurcombe (2), Ring (2), Van Heerden (2),
Harry Banks and Jack Price.
The opponents in the final were Oldham, who the time they were
one of Wigan's biggest rivals. The two sides had met in the
Championship Final two years earlier with Wigan coming out winners.
They were also battling towards the top of the table this year as
well with Wigan finishing 1st and Oldham 3rd, although neither side
would end up winning the Championship play offs.
Wembley Stadium had been opened the year before this final was
played but it was still five years before the decision was made to
try out playing the final at the famous old stadium. So this
particular final was played at the less famous "Athletic Grounds",
which was the home of Rochdale Hornets until 1988.
Back in 1924 the modern era of "health & safety" was unheard of
and the crowd which turned up for this final was way to big for the
size of the venue. The fans were spilling onto the pitch with
mounted police struggling to force them back. Many more supporters
were locked outside. The situation was so daft that players
collided with a man on crutches at one point as fans stood right up
to the touchline.
The match itself saw Oldham draw first blood with a penalty goal
from Ernie Knapman in the 15th Minute. That gave them a 2-0 lead
after Jim Sullivan had missed an earlier penalty for Wigan.
Two minutes later though Wigan had the games first try with Fred
Brown hacking on, and then collecting, a loose ball before
sending Fred Roffey over. Sullivan missed the conversion but Wigan
now led 3-2 (a try was only worth three points prior to the
Then on the half hour Wigan increased their
lead further. Than man Van Heerden made sure he completed the feat
of scoring in every cup round with a try in this final. It was a
great try. Jack Price had sent Tommy Parker breaking away and
seemingly heading into touch he got a kick away which saw Van
Heerden racing with Oldham's Joe Corsi for the ball. The Wigan man
won the race. and with Jim Sullivan converting, the lead had been
extended to 8-2, although Oldham kicked a second penalty goal
before half time to leave the score 8-4 at the break.
was all Wigan. Two tries in 15 minutes from first Parker then Jack
Price put Wigan 14-4. Sullivan had failed to convert either try and
nailed a massive 48 metre penalty goal on the hour made to make it 16-4. That kick established a three
score lead for the Cherry and Whites and they never looked back
The game was completed with a fifth Wigan try in the 70th minute
as Johnny Ring intercepted a pass from Joe Corsi before burning off
Sid Rix for pace in scoring close to the posts. Sullivan's
conversion rounded off a comprehensive 21-4 victory and sealed
Wigan's first Challenge Cup Success.