All Four Cups

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Albert Goldthorpe with All Four Cups (Hunslet, 1907–08)

Between 1905 and 1970 there were four trophies available to any British rugby league side:

To win "All Four Cups" in a single season was long regarded as the holy grail for a team. The feat was achieved on three occasions.

Hunslet[edit]

The first club to win All Four Cups was Hunslet, which they did in the 1907–08 season. They were captained by Albert Goldthorpe, who operated in the back line. Hunslet's forward pack of that season was equally (in)famous, going by the name of "The Terrible Six".

Hunslet did not top the championship table at the end of the season, coming behind Oldham, whom they defeated, 10–12, in a championship replay after the first match was drawn 7 apiece.[1] They ran out 14–0 winners in the Challenge Cup Final in front of 18,000 spectators at Fartown, Huddersfield. They took the Yorkshire Cup by virtue of a 17–0 victory over Halifax.

Huddersfield[edit]

The feat was next repeated by Huddersfield in the 1914–15 season by the Fartowners famous "Team of all the Talents".[2] This was the culmination of a staggering period of dominance in the game, as they had already picked up two championships, the challenge cup, three Yorkshire Cups and three Yorkshire league titles in the preceding five seasons.

They were captained by Harold Wagstaff,[3] immortalised as the "Prince of Centres", and included several foreign internationals. They easily defeated Leeds, 35–2, in the Championship final, and managed an even greater margin of victory in the Challenge Cup, crushing St Helens, 37–3, at Oldham.

The season saw Huddersfield's wing-three-quarter Albert Rosenfeld score an impressive 56 tries. However this figure paled into insignificance when it is remembered that Rosenfeld, a Jewish Australian who had come over to Britain with the 1908 Kangaroos, had scored 80 tries the previous season. This record has never yet been beaten.

The team of all the Talents could well have gone on to even greater exploits, however sadly the First World War intervened, and the team broke up. The Huddersfield club was unable to field a team, reforming only after the war ended.

Swinton[edit]

The final team to win All Four Cups was Swinton,[4] who thus became the only side ever to achieve a Lancashire version of the feat. The 1927–28 Northern Rugby Football League season saw the Lions sweep aside all before them, under the captaincy of centre Hector Halsall. They topped both the League and the Lancashire League, having already defeated Wigan in the Lancashire Cup. In a tense Challenge Cup final they squeezed past Warrington 5-3, and three weeks later the Holy Grail was achieved when they comfortably eased past Featherstone Rovers 11-0 to take the Championship.

Modern developments[edit]

The county leagues were abolished in 1970, and the county cups followed in 1993. New competitions have replaced them, and at times there have been up to six cups. The only team to win all the silverware on offer since Swinton was Wigan, who achieved a four cup triumph in 1994–95. They won the championship, beat Leeds, 69–24, in the Premiership final, defeated Leeds again, 30–10, in the Challenge Cup final and overcame Warrington 40-10 in the Regal Trophy final.

Bradford won the 2002–03 Challenge Cup final, 22–20, against Leeds, were the Super League leaders in 2003, won the 2003 Championship, 25–12, against Wigan and beat Penrith Panthers, 22–4, in February 2004 for the World Club Challenge. They thus held all four 'modern' cups at once, though they were not from the same season, strictly speaking.

St. Helens repeated Bradford's feat by winning the Challenge Cup, League Leader's Shield and the Championship in 2006 and the World Club Challenge in February 2007.

There are currently four trophies available to the top clubs:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Story so far". thereddevils.net. Salford Red Devils. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "All Four Cups". Huddersfield Rugby League Heritage. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "The History Of Rugby League". napit.co.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Baker, Andrew (20 August 1995). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". The Independent. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 

See also[edit]