Wigan v Hull
Challenge Cup Final.
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 again.
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 countdown article.
1959 Challenge Cup Final - Team Sheets
1959 Challenge Cup Final - Score Sheet
1959 Challenge Cup Final - Scoring and Incident Pattern
Referee: Charlie Appleton
Television: Live Coverage on BBC Television during
Grandstand from 2:50pm to 4:40pm.
Commentator: Eddie Waring
Radio: Live Commentary on BBC Home Service from 2:55pm to 4:45pm in North Regions.
BBC Television - Saturday 9th May 1959
1:45pm Summer Grandstand including....
2:00, 2:30 Horse Racing from Kempton Park
2:05, 2:35 Athletics: Oxford v Cambridge
2:50 Rugby League Challenge Cup Final: Hull v Wigan
4:40 Cricket & Horse Racing Summaries
5:00pm Children's Television
5:55pm Today's Sport
6:00pm News Summary, Weather
6:05pm "Well's Fargo"
7:30pm Henry Hall and his Orchestra (Guests: Arthur Askey, Dickie Henderson)
8:30pm John Willard's Play: "The Cat and the Canary"
9:45pm News Summary
9:50pm The Bob Hope Show
10:35pm Rugby League Challenge Cup Final: Hull v Wigan (Highlights)
11:05pm Small World
11:30pm Weather, National Anthem, Closedown