In the three years since the last Challenge Cup
success, Wigan had won another league title in 1950 and had also
earlier in this season won the Lancashire Cup for the fifth year in
a row. So they were well versed in lifting cups in this particular
They were again doing well in the league,
eventually finishing second in the table and earlier in this season
they, would you believe, had played a tour match against Italy at
Despite crowds being poor for two-legged ties,
they still remained in Round 1 of this particular season. The draw
pitted Wigan against Rochdale and the tie was all over after the
first leg when Wigan won 30-0 at Central Park. A hat-trick for
Brian Nordgren was added to by Jack Broome, George Curran, Ken Gee,
George Roughley and Nat Silcock.
They still had to go through the motions of the
second leg at the Athletic Grounds but that also was a comfortable
victory with Silcock (2), Roughley and Broome scoring tries in an
18-5 win that completed a 50-5 aggregate success.
Round 2 saw Batley visit Central Park. They were
having a decent season but tries from Gee and Ernie Ashcroft
contributed to a 16-8 win that saw more penalty goals that tries.
The Quarter Final draw saw Wigan given another
home tie but this was a far tougher contest than the previous two.
Huddersfield were the visitors and Wigan perhaps might have
expected an easy afternoon having beaten them 48-13 at Central Park
in the league but it took a solo penalty goal from Gee to seal a
nervy 2-0 win.
Nerves aplenty in the semi final as well. Wigan
drew Warrington and like in 1948 this was a clash of 1st v 2nd in
the league table. The Wires were also current holders of the cup, so
were probably the slight favourites for the tie. Such was the
interest in this game that the Rugby League tried to secure Anfield
in Liverpool as the venue but in the end the then traditional
Station Road, Swinton hosted the contest.
44,621 turned up and must have shitted bricks
all afternoon because only one try was scored and that decided it.
Thankfully it went to Wigan's Brian Nordgren who's effort secured a
3-2 win and passage to Wembley.
I guess most pundits would have expected 5th in
the table Leeds to beat 20th place Barrow in the other semi final
but the Cumbrians had other ideas. They had knocked out eventual
league champions Workington in the first round though and were
equally up for the task when facing Leeds. This tie actually went
to a replay after a 14-14 draw at Odsal. Barrow won the replay
28-13 at Huddersfield's "Fartown" ground.
to Wigan's semi final they had lost just three games all season so
it was perhaps a concern that they lost four of their six games
between the semi final and final. That included an 8-5 Championship
Play Off Semi Final loss at home to Workington that ended their
hopes of a rare league and cup double.
never won anything in their history to this date, so their town was
well up for this contest but their support still couldn't match
that of Wigan. They had been to Wembley previously but had lost to
Salford in 1938.
In the match itself, Wigan took
the lead with an early penalty goal from Ken Gee after Barrow's
former Wigan player Ted Toohey had been penalised for "illegal
feeding" at the scrum. The kick was out wide but Gee beasted it
over the bar.
That solo 2-0 lead remained all the
way till the 59th minute when the games first try finally came.
Scrum Half Tommy Bradshaw set it up with a lovely run that
wrong-footed opposition defenders before he offloaded to send Jack
Hilton over in the right corner. Ken Gee couldn't convert off the
touchline so the lead of 5-0 was still a try and conversion away
from Barrow levelling.
Barrow did go close to
levelling the scores, being held up over the line at one point, but
it was Wigan who sealed the match with a second try on 70 minutes.
Close to the line, big prop Gee went on a diagonal run and their
was no stopping him from scoring. Cec Mountford converted this one
to make it 10-0 and Wigan never looked back.
the final whistle went and Wigan's fourth Challenge Cup triumph was
in the bag. Kiwi Stand Off Cec Mountford was awarded the Lance Todd
Trophy, although many believe the award should have gone to loose
forward Billy Blan.
Wigan would bounce back to
win the league title again in 1952 but for the team of this era,
this would be their last Wembley appearance. Wigan didn't return to
the Twin Towers until 1958 when a new breed of Boston, Ashton and
McTigue were leading the way. A look at that final will follow in
the next day or two.