1954 Challenge Cup

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1954 Challenge Cup
Duration 5 rounds
Winners Wolvescolours.svg Warrington
Runners-up Faxcolours.svg Halifax

The 1954 Challenge Cup was the 53rd staging of rugby league's oldest knockout competition, the Challenge Cup.[1] It featured clubs from the 1953–54 Northern Rugby Football League season and is notable for its Final which had to be replayed before possibly the largest crowd in rugby league history.

First Round[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
6 February 1954 Halifax 19 Dewsbury 0
6 February 1954 Hull 24 Widnes 0
6 February 1954 Keighley 12 Barrow 11
6 February 1954 Latchford Albion 20 Wigan 40
6 February 1954 Leeds 13 Batley 20
6 February 1954 Liverpool 5 Oldham 15
6 February 1954 Wakefield Trinity 24 Whitehaven 13
6 February 1954 York 18 Hull Kingston Rovers 0
13 February 1954 Barrow 6 Keighley 10
13 February 1954 Batley 6 Leeds 23
13 February 1954 Castleford 8 Doncaster 5
13 February 1954 Oldham 18 Liverpool 11
13 February 1954 Rochdale Hornets 9 Bradford Northern 9
13 February 1954 Leigh 13 Swinton 4
13 February 1954 St Helens 26 Featherstone Rovers 7
13 February 1954 Warrington 17 Bramley 0
13 February 1954 Wheldale 6 Workington Town 32
13 February 1954 Whitehaven 15 Wakefield Trinity 3
13 February 1954 Widnes 2 Hull FC 5
13 February 1954 Wigan 41 Latchford Albion 2
15 February 1954 Belle Vue Rangers 15 Huddersfield 20
16 February 1954 Dewsbury 9 Halifax 5
17 February 1954 Bradford Northern 11 Rochdale Hornets 2
17 February 1954 Bramley 5 Warrington 30
17 February 1954 Featherstone Rovers 16 St Helens 27
17 February 1954 Huddersfield 31 Belle Vue Rangers 6
17 February 1954 Hunslet 20 Salford 5
17 February 1954 Swinton 2 Leigh 17
17 February 1954 Workington Town 50 Wheldale 2
18 February 1954 Doncaster 7 Castleford 2
18 February 1954 Hull Kingston Rovers 0 York 0
22 February 1954 Salford 3 Hunslet 18

Second Round[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
6 March 1954 Halifax 24 Keighley 5
6 March 1954 Huddersfield 12 St Helens 5
6 March 1954 Hull 5 Workington Town 5
6 March 1954 Hunslet 10 Whitehaven 2
6 March 1954 Leeds 12 Leigh 3
6 March 1954 Oldham 4 Warrington 7
6 March 1954 Wigan 15 Bradford Northern 10
6 March 1954 York 11 Doncaster 2
11 March 1954 Workington Town 17 Hull FC 14

Quarter Finals[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
20 March 1954 Hunslet 16 Huddersfield 7
20 March 1954 Leeds 31 Workington Town 11
20 March 1954 Warrington 26 York 5
20 March 1954 Wigan 0 Halifax 2

Semi Finals[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
3 April 1954 Halifax 18 Hunslet 3
3 April 1954 Warrington 8 Leeds 4

Final[edit]

Halifax and Warrington, the teams that finished first and second respectively on the Championship ladder (separated by only one competition point), reached the Challenge Cup Final Saturday 24 April 1954. It was played at Wembley and 81,841 spectators saw what turned out to be a lacklustre match.

24 April 1954
Warrington 4 – 4 Halifax
Goals Bath (2/6) [2] Goals Griffiths (2/4)
Wembley, London
Attendance: 81,841
Referee: Ron Gelder (Wakefield)

After a couple of penalties, Halifax led 4-0 at half time, then in the second half Warrington drew level, also kicking two penalties. The final score was 4 - 4 and it remains the only time Wembley hasn't seen a single try on Cup Final day. The re-play was scheduled for 5pm on Wednesday 5 May 1954 at Odsal Stadium, Bradford.

Final replay[edit]

Around 70,000 spectators were expected at Odsal for the replay which was rescheduled for a 7pm kick-off to avoid the rush hour traffic. The twenty trains and fifty buses, specially scheduled for the match, as well as the 100 gatesmen and 150 policemen at the ground were therefore believed to be adequate. However the closeness with which the two teams were matched and the prospect of the Challenge Cup decider coming north for the first time in a decade seem to have generated immense interest.

People had started queuing a good hour before the shuttle buses started running from 4:25pm. The gates opened at 5.00pm, and by that time some people had already been queuing for an hour and a half. At an hour before kick off there were already an estimated 60,000 in the ground. The traffic on the roads in the surrounding area was at a standstill as more and more spectators converged on the stadium. Some squatted around the pitch, while others climbed onto rooftops for a better view. Fences around the ground had collapsed, as more people struggled to cram into the bowl of Odsal before kick-off. The official figure for the crowd at the match was 102,575,.[3] However it is widely believed that the real figure for spectators present is closer to 120,000.[4]

5 May 1954
7 pm
Warrington 8 – 4 Halifax
Try Challinor, Helme
Goals Bath (2)
[5] Goals Griffiths (2)
Odsal Stadium, Bradford
Attendance: 102,575
Referee: Ron Gelder
Man of the Match: Gerry Helme
Warrington Posit. Halifax
Eric Frodsham (c) 1. FB Tyssul Griffiths
Brian Bevan 2. WG Arthur Daniels
Jim Challinor 3. CE Tommy Lynch
Ron Ryder 4. CE Billy Mather
Stan McCormick 5. WG Dai Royston Bevan
Ray Price 6. SO Ken Dean
Gerry Helme 7. SH Stan Kielty
Danny Naughton 8. PR John Thorley
Frank Wright 9. HK Alvin Ackerley (c)
Gerard Lowe 10. PR Jack Wilkinson
Harry Bath 11. SR Albert Fearnley
Austin Heathwood 12. SR Derrick Schofield
Bob Ryan 13. LF Des Clarkson

The match itself was another low-scoring struggle, but an improvement on the last one. Jim Challinor opened the scoring with a try for Warrington after nine minutes. Half an hour later, Tyssul Griffiths kicked a penalty for the Halifax side, who had also had two tries disallowed. This meant a half time score of 3 - 2 in favour of Warrington.

The third quarter of the match saw additional goals kicked by both Griffiths and Harry Bath, bringing the score to 5 - 4, still just one point in favour of Warrington. Then Gerry Helme scored a try, which Bath couldn't convert, putting Warrington four points clear of Halifax, but still within a converted try. Controversy reared just before full-time, when Halifax had a third try disallowed by referee Ron Gelder. Warrington had claimed their 4th Challenge Cup, with Helme winning the Lance Todd Trophy for his match-winning performance, the first player to do so twice.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Challenge Cup 1953/54". Rugby League Project. 
  2. ^ "OUR RUGBY FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT. "A Drawn Rugby Cup Final." Times [London, England] 26 Apr. 1954". The Times Digital Archive. 
  3. ^ "The History Of Rugby League". Rugby League Information. napit.co.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Hadfield, Dave (2004-05-06). "Mud, blood and memories of the day when 102,575 made history at Odsal". The Independent. UK: Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  5. ^ "OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. "Rugby League Cup For Warrington." Times [London, England] 6 May 1954". The Times Digital Archive.