Looking back: Historical day for Saints

Former Saints coach Alex Murphy
Former Saints coach Alex Murphy
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Turn back the clock 30 years - and how many Saints’ fans can recall a history-making event in the club’s calendar?

The date was Saturday, January 9, 1988, the venue Central Park, Wigan, and the opposition Leeds.

It was, of course, the final of the Regal Trophy which in its time had also been known as the Player’s no.6 Trophy, John Player Trophy and John Player Special Trophy - bowing out before the start of Super League in the summer of 1996.

It spanned three decades, including no few than 25 finals, but surprisingly 1988 was the only occasion Saints lifted the crown.

It did, however turn out to be a thrill-a-minute blockbusting encounter between Alex Murphy’s men and the Loiners and as Editor of the St Helens-based Rugby Leaguer at the time, I had the pleasure of recording the facts for posterity.

Just one other final was decided by a one point margin - Bradford Northern’s 3-2 victory over Widnes in 1975 - but the score line seems to suggest it was far from a free-flowing nerve-tingling encounter.

The same could not be said about the Saints-Leeds showdown in which afirst-half drop goal by Neil Holding and 14 points from man of the match Paul Loughlin proved decisive.

Saints had reached the final following home wins against Widnes (12-10), Mansfield Marksmen (40-0), Hull (20-16), and Oldham (18-8).

Teams - Saints: Phil Veivers, David Tanner, Paul Loughlin, Mark Elia, Les Quirk, Shane Cooper, Neil Holding, Tony Burke, Paul Groves, Peter Souto, Paul Forber, Roy Haggerty, Andy Platt,

Subs: David Large, Stuart Evans.

Leeds: Marty Gurr, Steve Morris, Garry Schofield, Peter Jackson, John Basnett, David Creasser, Ray Ashton, Peter Tunks, Colin Maskill, Kevin Rayne, Roy Powell, Paul Medley, David Heron.

Subs: Carl Gibson, John Fairbank

Referee: Fred Lindop (Wakefield)


Saints scorers: Loughlin two tries and three goals, Holding (one drop goal)