Classic Match: 1983 John Player Trophy Final.
Posted by Bilko on February 06 2005 - 13:26
This was perhaps the start of the long period of success that was to follow for Wigan. Just three years after relegation to the Old Divison 2, this match announced our return to the top with a John Player (Regal) Trophy Final victory over Leeds. Not the best of matches but a key moment in Wigan's history.

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Extended News
Wigan v Leeds 1983 John Player Trophy Final.
Saturday 22nd January 1983. Kick Off 2:15pm at Elland Road, Leeds.
This was perhaps the start of the long period of success that was to follow for Wigan. Just three years after relegation to the Old Divison 2, this match announced our return to the top. Numerous Challenge Cup apperances, league titles and other successes were to follow.

Maurice Lindsay, who was the head of a new board that took over the club in 1982 said after this game "let's hope this is the start of something big". Don't think anyone that day would have predicted what was to come for Wigan.

Alex Murphy was our coach ay the time. He had been appointed during the previous off season and immediately brought success with this win.

Both sides were having decent league seasons. Wigan went on to finish this season 3rd behind both Hull clubs and just above St Helens, whilst Leeds finished 6th.

The match was played at Elland Road, so arguably it was a home match for Leeds but the Wigan fans came out in great numbers. Captain Colin Whitfield said "our fans were magic" and that it was them that "lifted" them to victory.

The first half of the match was pretty dull and included the very rare scoreline of 1-0 when Whitfield kicked a drop goal for Wigan after just seven minutes.

Leeds hit back with two penalties from scrum half Kevin Dick before a penalty from Whitfield made it 3-4 to Leeds at the break.

Again not really a inspired start to the second half. Leeds did go mightily close to increasing their lead however but Les Dyl was on his back over the line. 

The game came to life on 57 minutes and it was Henderson Gill, the man who would go on to light up the 1985 Challenge Cup Final, who sent Wigan on the road to success. 

David Stephenson sent Gill racing away down the wing and he beat three defenders to score in the corner. He just managed to squeeze over for the try. It was a brave effort in which he injured himself. He was immediately substituted as Whitfield's conversion made it 8-4. 

Note it was still three points for a try. The four points rule only came into force after this season had ended. Another Whitfield penalty made it 10-4 on 64 minutes.

The game was still in the balance but it was Wigan who finished strongest. Dennis Ramsdale, Brian Case and Danny Campbell all went close to sealing it. Eventually we managed to do so. Mick Scott broke through to send substitute Brian Juliff, who had replaced previous try scorer Gill, underneath the posts to win the game in the 75th minute. 

Andy Farrell was not the first Wigan captain to play against Leeds with a broken nose as captain Whitfield played most of this match with the same injury. Perhaps his contribution with the boot was the key to this victory?

Team Sheets
  Wigan Position Leeds  
1 Barry Williams Full Back Neil Hague 1
2 Dennis Ramsdale Winger Mark Campbell 2
3 David Stephenson Centre Ian Wilkinson 3
4 Colin Whitfield Centre Les Dyl 4
5 Henderson Gill Winger Andy Smith 5
6 Martin Foy Stand Off John Holmes 6
7 Jimmy Fairhurst Scrum Half Kevin Dick 7
8 Glyn Shaw Prop Roy Dickinson 8
9 Nicky Kiss Hooker David Ward 9
10 Danny Campbell Prop Tony Burke 10
11 Graeme West 2nd Row Andy Sykes 11
12 Mick Scott 2nd Row Wayne Heron 12
13 John Pendlebury L.Forward David Heron 13
14 Brian Case Substitute Mark Conway 14
15 Brian Juliff Substitute David Heselwood 15
*Both Leeds subs did not participate.
Score Sheet
Wigan  15-4 Leeds

Tries:
Henderson Gill (57)
Brian Juliff (75)

Goals:
Colin Whitfield 4

Goals:
Kevin Dick 2

Drop Goals:
Colin Whitfield 1 (7)

Note: Tries were worth 3 points only.
Match Info

Half Time: 3-4 Leeds
Match Attendance: 19,553
Referee: Ron Campbell (Widnes)
Weather: Overcast and Damp.