Click: Last Match -
Wigan 2 Salford 11 - Saturday 1st April 1939
Venue: Athletic Grounds, Rochdale
Competition: Challenge Cup Semi Final
Kick Off: 3:30pm
1. Jim Sullivan, 2. Denis Williamson, 3. Johnny Lawrenson, 4.
Ted Ward, 5. Jack Morley, 6. Jack Garvey, 7. Hector Gee
8. George Banks, 9. Vic Darlison, 10. Percy Moxey, 11. Gwyn Williams, 12.
Trevor Thomas, 13. Ike Jones
Jim Sullivan 1
1. Osbaldestin, 2. Hudson, 3. Gear, 4. Risman, 5. Edwards, 6.
Kenny, 7. Watkins
8. Bradbury, 9. Day, 10. Davies, 11. Dalton, 12. H.Thomas, 13. Feetham
This Semi Final at Rochdale's Athletic Grounds was played
in farcical conditions after a crush in the crowd had led to railings at the
front of the stand giving way. This led to "thousands" of fans crossing the
dog track at the ground to stand on the edge of the pitch. The players and
officials had to push through the crowds "six or seven deep" on the
touchline to make it onto the field.
However, this wasn't the only problem. An estimated 100
supporters had climbed onto the Railway Stand roof and after a few
minutes play the said wooden roof partially gave way with a "big crash" under their
weight with those on the roof crashing down into the supporters below. "Many
people were injured" and two of the players immediately left the field to
help the injured along with ambulance and police men. Sadly it later
transpired that a Joseph Howles, aged 41, of Rochdale had died in the
incident. An Ann West of Eccles had also died after attending the game
although it was thought she wasn't involved in the incident but died a day
later after being taken ill with shock.
This had been the second year in a row a Lancashire Semi
Final had been played like this with similar problems at Belle Vue Greyhound
Stadium when Salford met Swinton the year before. The supporters on the
pitch perimeter were "perfectly orderly"and "didn't interfere with play" on
this occasion but outside the ground it was been reported that latecomers
had led to long queues and impatient supporters had broken into the
ground without paying.
In the game Salford deserved to win. Gus Risman
had kicked Salford into an early 2-0 lead before the stand collapse had
halted play for 15 minutes. Officials decided to continue the game, after the estimated 19 injured had been taken to Rochdale Infirmary,
and following the delay Risman added a try to
which he converted for a 7-0 lead. Jim Sullivan had reduced that to 7-2 on
20 minutes play and that carried until half time. The only scores in the
second half were further penalties from Risman on 57 and 75 minutes which
sent Salford back to Wembley where they had won the year before. An
estimated 50,000 had attended the game in total.
Live Commentary of the Second Half of the Match was
scheduled to air on BBC Northern
Regional Radio with commentary from R.A Colville.
1938-1939 Challenge Cup Semi Final Results
Saturday 1st April 1939
Halifax 10 Leeds 4 (at Odsal Stadium,
Wigan 2 Salford 11 (at Athletic Grounds, Rochdale)
Picture of stand collapse incident
taken by photographer Clifford Ashton.