Recalling Saints’ shock 1987 defeat to Halifax

Alex Murphy leads out Saints for the 1987 final against Halifax
Alex Murphy leads out Saints for the 1987 final against Halifax

When Pilkington Recs were paired with Halifax in the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup memories came flooding back immediately to the last time the West Yorkshire club lifted Rugby League's most coveted trophy.

The date was May 2, 1987 and the team on the receiving end of what at the time was a shock 19-18 defeat none other than Alex Murphy's St Helens.

Saints V Halifax at Wembley 1987

Saints V Halifax at Wembley 1987

Saints' young and vibrant side, renowned for their off-their-cuff rugby, were red-hot favourites against what could best be described as an ageing Fax side but the Tykes' experience proved invaluable in the latter stages of a compelling encounter.

But most St Helens fans still alive today maintain the only reason they saw the Challenge Cup slip through their grasp - and in every sense of the word - was a piece of showboating when only one point separated the teams and with less than 10 minutes on the stadium clock.

Kiwi centre Mark Elia looked a racing certainty to plunge over the whitewash but wanted to do it spectacular style rather than get the basics right - and in a flash the covering John Pendlebury knocked the ball from his grasp

Teams - Saints Veivers, Ledger, Loughlin Elia, McCormack, Clark, Holding, Burke, Liptrot, Fieldhouse, Platt, Haggety, Arkwright. Subs: Round, Forber.

Halifax: Eadie,Wilson, Whitfield, Rix, George, Anderson, Stephens, Beevers, McCallion, Neller, Dixon, Scott, Pendlebury. Subs:Juliff, Jamas

Tries - Halifax George, McCallion, Eadie. Goals: Whitfield 3. Drop goal: Pendlebury.

Tries - Saints: Elia, Loughlin, Round. Goals: Loughlin 3.

Attendance 91,267.

Receipts: £1,009,206 (the first million pound final).

Referee: John Holdsworth (Kippax)