So many Wembley highs for Saints ... and one painful low 30 years ago

Action from the 1989 Challenge Cup final between Saints and Wigan
Action from the 1989 Challenge Cup final between Saints and Wigan
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Twelve times winners St Helens have enjoyed some magic and memorable moments at Wembley - one of the world's most famous stadiums.


It's every Rugby League player's dream to grace the mecca of English sport but there can only be one winner and Saints, who start their bid for Challenge Cup glory at Huddersfield Giants on Sunday night, have also suffered one or two setbacks they will want to forget.

None more embarrassing than the 27-0 defeat under the twin towers against their deadly rivals, Wigan, on Saturday, April 29, 1989 - the 30th anniversary of which fell last week.

Alex Murphy, who had masterminded Wembley victories over the auld enemy as a player in 1961 and 1966, was hoping this time to dictate the destiny of the famous old trophy from the sidelines as club coach.

But he and his team failed to rise to the occasion in front of a 78,000-strong crowd as the Cherry and Whites, inspired by skipper Ellery Hanley, romped home almost in a canter.

St Helens, who had suffered a shock 19-18 defeat to Halifax in the final two years early, had been hoping for a change of fortune but Wigan's New Zealand coach Graham Lowe had other ideas by ensuring his players targeted 17-year-old full back Gary Connolly early on with a series of bombs.

The teenager coped reasonable well but in the end he and his team-mates had to acknowledge they had been beaten by a far superior team on the day.

Saints: Gary Connolly, Michael O'Connor, Phil Veivers, Paul Loughlin, Les Quirk, Shane Cooper, Neil Holding, Tony Burke, Paul Groves, Paul Forber, Bernard Dwyer, Roy Haggerty, Paul Vautin. Subs: Darren Bloor, Stuart Evans.

Wigan: Steve Hampson, Tony Iro, Kevin Iro, Dean Bell, Joe Lydon, Shaun Edwards, Andy Gregory, Ian Lucas, Nicky Kiss, Adrian Shelford, Andy Platt, Ian Potter, Ellery Hanley. Subs: Denis Betts, Andy Goodway.

Tries for Wigan: Tony Iro (2), Hanley, Gregory, Hampson. Goals: Lydon 3-5. Drop goal: Goodway