|Round 18 Results|
|Hull KR 35 Huddersfield 28|
|Leeds 42 Castleford 24|
|Widnes 32 Wigan 33|
|London 10 Warrington 82|
|Catalans 30 Hull FC 4|
|St. Helens 30 Bradford 18|
|Salford 10 Wakefield 46|
|Leeds 38 Widnes 28|
|Round 19 Fixtures|
|Friday 21st June - 8pm (TV)|
|Castleford v Hull FC|
|Friday 21st June - 8pm|
|Salford v St. Helens|
|Saturday 22nd June - 5pm|
|Catalans v Hull KR|
|Sunday 23rd June - 3pm|
|Bradford v Widnes|
|Sunday 23rd June - 3pm|
|Huddersfield v Leeds|
|Sunday 23rd June - 3.30pm|
|Wakefield v London|
|Monday 24th June - 7.45pm (TV)|
|Warrington v Wigan|
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|Day of the Match - 1989-90 - Part One|
|DAY OF THE MATCH - 1989-90 - PART ONE|
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 3rd September 1989, 3.15pm
SHEFFIELD EAGLES 20 ST. HELENS 36
A fine comeback from the Saints in Eagles top flight debut after an opening half hour that looked set to provide an embarrassing start to the season but two valuable points and a rare away win east of the Pennines.
I had to go on my own to this one as Martin was skint and undoubtedly disillusioned with the pessimism emanating from the club at the moment due to our failings in the transfer market. ‘Sack the board!’. Why do those buggers always have to interfere? Jonathan Griffiths being the only signing, and that was announced back in May.
The game had been switched to Hillsborough, scene of that tragic disaster just five months ago and it was a poignant walk down Leppings Lane before the game.
There was a carnival atmosphere before the game with all the layers being introduced individually by a local radio personality and a sprint challenge between representatives of the city’s two football teams, including an old foe, one John Francis of Emley FC, Town’s FA Vase Semi-Final opponents a couple of years ago.
We started off where we had left off the previous season by playing crap, as newly promoted Sheffield got off to a storming start and stormed into an 11-0 lead on their first division debut and the rather tasty beef and onion pie was of little consolation.
Saints pulled the score back to 11-6, before the break, thanks to a try by Lockers and took control upon the resumption with four late tries, including a brace on his debut from Griff, and it gave us a rather flattering result. Still, it’s nice to see we can play a bit when we want to.
As to be expected, Sharpey and the boys were in rather boisterous mood on the way home, singing along to Jive Bunny on the radio and doing rather embarrassing mock imitations of Lil Louis’s ‘French Kiss’. I was also given an unexpected cheer and round of applause as I rose to get off the coach. I looked back at the coach to see the lads waving and gesticulating and was rather amused. Then I discovered that I had got off at the wrong place, over two miles from home, in downtown Lowton!
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 10th September 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 24 CASTLEFORD 26
Well there goes the unbeaten home record and we had held out for so long, almost to the middle of September, after a thoroughly dismal first half performance ended up costing us dearly.
I turned up to see the new electronic scoreboard before the game; it wasn’t there, but the new executive boxes were and surely the glass should be facing the pitch in the traditional fashion!
There was a surprising lack of atmosphere in the first half, although not that surprising when you are playing so abysmally, although Weaver was back to his usual boisterous self, standing on the camera stand ladder, as if he couldn’t see anyway and shouting “Gerrem onside” with the screeched voice on the ‘side’ bit, rather hilarious. I suppose you had to be there! Something had to take our minds off a dreadful opening fifty minutes though as we found ourselves 24-2 down. Bernie had been pretty abysmal but new boys Griff and Tommy ‘Convict’ Frodsham were playing well though.
Then, amazingly, Grovesy touched down under the posts; straight from the restart, Griff raced sixty yards for a superb solo try and Veivers, after a thrusting run by Roy, pulled it back to 20-24. Castleford donkey, Ketteridge landed a penalty for them before Big John Harrison stretched over in the corner for us, Lockers missing the conversion, and it was 24-26. All four tries coming in an exhilarating nine minutes and the party with the lads on the terraces was up there with the best for a while and we sang confidently with a quarter of the game still to go.
Lockers missed a penalty to level the scores and had a late try, possibly unfairly, disallowed but in the last five minutes we just couldn’t get the ball, so we lost, but at least it ended up a respectable score. It was just a pity about those other 71 minutes though!
GRUNHALLE LAGER LANCASHIRE CUP 1ST ROUND – Sunday 17th September 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 78 RUNCORN HIGHFIELD 10
Well, we thought they were useless and we were right weren’t we, as Saints piled on a massive score against rugby League’s Cinderella club. So bad, that ex-school colleague, Kevin O’Garra was playing and he even popped over three goals for good measure.
Hearts were raised before the kick off upon the realisation that the new electronic scoreboard was working, although not for long as it went spectacularly bump a few minutes into the game.
The score remained at 2-2 for the first ten minutes or so and I was feeling quite despondent about it all until Buffer plummeted over and, from her on, it was a walkover with nearly all the team getting in on the try scoring although Dave Tanner failed to score even though he was on the wing.
The atmosphere was pretty dull and, apart from Ron Hoofe’s (the geezer who gets all emotional on the club videos) garish jumper, there was little of note to keep us amused except when Alan Hunte scored in the corner, got clattered into the advertising hoardings and Buffer came in with his usual tact and diplomacy to sort things out, helped by about twenty other players! This even brought the previously mute lads to finally sing a song.
At 78-10, with five minutes to go, I even found myself screaming and shouting hoots of derision after a knock-on by Mexicano, claiming he was rather shit, which wouldn’t entirely be a lie. One of the lads, Pizza, pointed out that we had only scored 78 and would I never be happy and I suppose he had a point. It wasn’t bad, I suppose, but fancy conceding double figures to Runcorn.
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 24th September 1989, 3.00pm
BRADFORD NORTHERN 28 ST. HELENS 18
Not for the first time, Saints gave the opponents a good head start before turning up but not just doing enough to come away with the spoils.
I had to go on my own to this one again after The Ferrit missed the bus to go and book the coach, which was real pity as I could have given my United supporting colleague some right hammer after a certain 5-1 thrashing of the rags in yesterday’s Maine Road derby!
As per usual, the SSC coach driver parked miles away from the ground and if the players coach parked that far away, that shower would be knackered before the game had even started. Disgraceful prices to enter by the way but even then I had to pay an extra quid to sit down due to the old vertigo scenario that comes with the tip that is Odsal Stadium.
Due to a bucket load of injuries, Saints had only thirteen players fit with first team experience, Jason Roach making his debut on the left wing.
Bradford tried to make the occasion an Australian style extravaganza, but failed miserably, playing music by Tina Turner after every try, having a float go round the speedway track at half time and, embarrassingly bad cheerleaders trying to perform throughout the whole game, It must have certainly got on the players nerves, as it did mine, but what a good laugh as one of the young maidens copped a good ‘un after a large up and under.
Saints were 22-4 down, shortly into the second half, but it was a pretty heroic performance considering that the injury depletion was added to by the departure of Bernie and Griff and will there be anyone left to play in the Oldham Cup tie?
Shane Cooper pulled a try back and then Mexicano, after a huge stroke of luck, Whitfield not spotting the blatant forward pass, notched another and it was back to 22-18. Actually, it was the worst refereeing performance I have ever seen but most decisions went our way until he gave Northern a 25 yard tap when it was blatantly obvious that a Yorkie had knocked the ball out. The worst decision I think I have ever seen, and at a vital point in the match too.
However, after a brave comeback, which should have brought victory, we were defeated but when we get some of those players back, we should shake the division. (Famous last words?).
GRUNHALLE LAGER LANCASHIRE CUP 2ND ROUND – Wednesday 27th September 1989, 7.30pm
ST. HELENS 6 OLDHAM 36
Well, I did say “Famous last words” and I have just witnessed the most pathetic, abysmal, embarrassing and downright humiliating performance that I have ever had the misfortune to witness. I don’t think even Runcorn would have played as badly as this against them.
Even though we were vastly understrength, without Veivers, Loughlin, Griffiths, Forber, Dwyer, Holding, Connolly, Quirk and Harrison, we were playing a second division outfit when all is said and done and there can be little in the way of excuses.
The first half was terrible and our cause was not helped when Roy ‘Braincell’ Haggerty, delivered a superb right hook to deck ex-Saints, John Shithouse, an act which brought a heart cheer but he was sent off for his troubles; the only bit of excitement in the half!
In the, even more, tragic second half, we trailed 20-2 when starts of “Sack the board” chorused around the ground which, in turn, provoked an amusing spell of “Sack the board” chants after every mistake, and there were many, and “Keep the board” chants after a bit of good play, and there wasn’t much of that!
Sub, Mike Carrington scored a minute consolation try but there was never any danger of a comeback and they ran in three more tries to thoroughly embarrass us and to put the icing on the cake, Boyo became the second player to earn an early bath with just a couple of minutes to go.
As Martin and I were rather dischuffed by the whole debacle, we decided to go down to the tunnel to give the players a rousing reception, if you see what I mean? At the hooter we abused all the players as they passed, especially Froddy and when Alex walked past, many shouted “Resign Murphy” very loudly. Shithouse was rather boisterous, fists up mockingly at Saints fans, and it was no surprise to see clusters of spit flying in his direction.
If we lose like this to Oldham, I dread to think what the touring Kiwis will do to us on Sunday! Probably treble figures or something.
BRITISH COAL TOUR MATCH – Sunday 1st October 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 27 NEW ZEALAND 26
Truly unbelievable scenes! How can a team, who got tonked by a second division team, do this to a virtually full strength, perhaps, second best international team in the world just four days later? It’s a bloody miracle!
The Kiwi’s with fat guts, Judas Shelford, Kevin Iro, Mark Elia (who lost us the 87 Challenge Cup Final) et al, were expected to murder us, and I was just more interested in watching the rather entertaining Maori war dance before the kick off.
We went 7-0 up early on and I just thought it was fleeting bit of excitement, especially when they came back to lead 14-7 at the interval, including a try by Elia (who lost us the 87 Challenge Cup Final).
Mal Meninga was watching in the stands for this one and he came out to the expected hero’s welcome and I wonder when he will be linked with us again next?
Quickly, we were 15-14 in front, thanks to rare try from Boyo and by now the atmosphere was quite festive. Soon the Kiwis lead 26-125 though, including another try by Elia (who lost us the 87 Challenge Cup Final) but it was quite heartening to see old Fat Guts taken off injured and he didn’t get much sympathy.
Then, a superb 75 yarder, inspired by Mexicano and Veivers, was finished off by Tanner and a couple of good goals from the same man saw us back in the game. Then, with only three minutes to go, Paul ‘The Cat’ Forber, went over in the corner to give us a 27-26 lead, Elsie missing the conversion, and the shock of the year was on. The wild celebrations up on the Scaff were tremendous.
But, then, in injury time, Royston was penalised and it seemed our dreams would be shattered. The extremely tedious, Kelly Shelford took an eternity to line up the forty metre kick, eventually pushing his kick wide of the far post, the hooter sounded immediately and one of the most incredible victories was complete. Even the Canberra Raiders team, waiting to take on Widnes in the World Club Challenge, seemed delighted up in the Main Stand.
Now this may seem like deja vu, but when we get some of those players back, we could shake the division! (Famous last words – again!).
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 8th October 1989, 3.30pm
WAKEFIELD TRINITY 21 ST. HELENS 24
Another trip over the Pennines and saints emerge winners in what was a smashing game; very strange indeed seeing as martin went.
Our little twosome was joined by Setter, who it now transpires that as well as being a cyclist, he is also a keen rambler. Mind you, he does look like Steve Davis, which must account for him being so interesting! One noticeable absentee was the Mighty Weaver though, and it’s not as if you could miss him if he was actually there.
Saints started the game well enough with Mexicano going in early doors and another try from Lockers meant that we went in at the break holding onto a narrow lead.
Unfortunately, after we had looked like the classier side for much of the proceedings, we fell apart and Trinity stormed into a 21-10 lead; shades of the away match at Featherstone last year, when on a similarly pathetic ground, we had visions of striking fifty points, but things aren’t like that with our boys.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Dave Large did ever so well to go in at the corner and Lockers try and conversion pulled it to within one point with seven minutes remaining. Only three minutes later, the same player made a storming break to put Alan Hunte in for a try against his hometown team and we had pinched a late, dramatic victory.
Congratulations to George Mann on a good debut performance, whilst other new boy Andy Bateman looked pretty useful too.
The coach journey home saw us witness a church being burned down and we finally got to know who the geezer from the match programme was, Bill Bates. About 25 years old with moustache and greying hair and we have seen him many times before and thought it might be him as he stands like a right stiff, jotting down scrum details, penalty awards and other such exciting stuff.
Full marks to the programme editors too who yet again guffed over the simple task of spelling the name Forber. He has now been ‘Furber’ at Sheffield, ‘Fober’ and even ‘Parker’ at Bradford and now ‘Thorber’ at Wakefield, and they wonder why we all look at these Tykes and think they are a bit dim!
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 15th October 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 50 FEATHERSTONE ROVERS 11
Three wins on the run and things are going tremendously well. Can it last? Probably not, in fact, almost certainly not!
For some strange reason, Weaver was in an incredibly boisterous mood before this match although the rest of the lads were rather subdued. A few whiskies in the Black Bull methinks.
After trailing 6-2 early on, tries from Lockers and a superb thirty yard run by mighty George Mann, the prop, saw us lead comfortably at the half time hooter, and young Morley, now on a rare excursion to the Saints, tried to set off a crowd sway for old time’s sake and failed rather dismally. Speaking of absenteeism, and there was no Toddy and Setter in their traditional corner positions and there ain’t half a few part-timers around these days, or not around, as the case may be.
In the second half we turned in a powerhouse performance including some storming tries. The best was a forty yard weaving run from Alan Hunte and Froddy capped a superb performance (you what?) with two corking tries, the last of which brought up the fifty mark. The seventh try was the classiest though as Veivers collected deep inside his own half, ran forty yards past two players, slipped it to Mexicano who, in turn, slipped it to Grovesy, who touched down under the posts.
Apart from the scoreline, it was a rather unexciting day with a minimal amount of off the field humorous events although a word for the Shearing’s bus driver who, rather than us missing the bus, he somehow missed us and drove straight past us, much to our displeasure. It’s a strange life!
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 29th October 1989, 3.00pm
WARRINGTON 3 ST. HELENS 15
Just what the hell is going on here? From a team of duffers, just a few weeks ago, we are now playing like a team of world beaters. The Wire had been undefeated in eleven games thus far this season but they were taught a footballing lesson.
We arrived considerably early for this one to avoid the rush and soon spotted Toddy and Setter in their usual boring position down at the bottom. Stood with them was ‘Old Fungus’, who we thought had been given the brush off after he claimed we were robbed at Wembley! Strange chap! As then, the referee was Ray Tennant and, as ever, he gave a disgraceful show but aren’t they all the same?
In the first half, we played some quality rugby and were 8-3 in front at the interval. Alan Hunte had a try disallowed, of which I had a good party for thinking it was a fair try, whilst The Cat plummeted over for a fair try, at which point I did not have a good party thinking it was short of the line.
After the break, the atmosphere was superb with the Saints fans all congregating under the Railway Stand end, of which we were attacking.
Neil ‘The Ferrit’ Holding, having a superb kicking game, bagged one of those festive dr#p goal things but we were still a bit worried that they would get a lucky break, and a lucky break it would be too as, despite being league leaders, Wire’s ball handling skills were dismal.
With fifteen minutes left, ex-Saint, Tony the Burke, dr#pped the ball, the Ferrit kicked though and dr#pped on the ball for a try and the celebrations amongst the Saints fans were pretty amazing.
From here on there were no worries and Saints cantered to a superb victory. When we get some of those players back, we should shake the division. Famous last words maybe but now I am starting to believe them.
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Saturday 4th November 1989, 2.55pm
ST. HELENS 40 SALFORD 16
Didn’t I tell you that once we got some of those players back that we would shake the division, we ll we have and we haven’t even got the players back yet!
There was an extremely low crowd present for this one, including a noticeable absentee – me, as it was live on TV on a Saturday and City were at home, not that City being at home would have had a dramatic effect on the attendance overall, mind! Still, I could record the game and watch it later and no sooner had I turned it on, I heard Weaver’s booming voice shouting “Gerrem onside” down the microphone.
At 8-6 in front, the original Red Devils had an incredible slice of luck, Cairns wild kick rebounding rather kindly off the top of an upright nicely for him to fall down on the ball. Alex thought that they “must have been to church this morning” but not even God could get that lucky. Viewers also had a chance to see ‘the Mouth’ in one of his legendary half time team talks and, to be fair, he was not a happy chappie!
Three great tries in the opening twelve minutes of the second half sealed the game; Veivers, Mexicano and Grovesy, against his old club, after an incredible cock up by the druid, Adrian Hadley. This even prompted a little song from the previously quiet Scaff. Alex still wasn’t happy though!
Two tries in the last four minutes brought up the 40 mark. The Cat steamed over and Bernie, back for mighty George Mann, touring with the Kiwis, completed a tremendous move.
The camera again homed in on Alex in the dressing room, after the game and, yet again, he was not exactly over enthusiastic about the performance. Still, a comfortable victory and, with Barrow at home next week, we could be in the top three by the end of next weekend.
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 12th November 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 62 BARROW 18
Saints on the points trail again and oh what fun this Rugby League lark is turning out to be. Second in the league now and what a team! It can’t last now, can it?
Again, the atmosphere was pretty dull but what can you expect against teams like this, although it was quite packed up amongst the lads although I don’t know why, but whatever happened to the likes of Sharpey?
Before the game, we had a minute’s silence for Remembrance Sunday, although there was much giggling and whispering nearby from the kiddiewinkles.
The only bit of excitement, apart from the rugby, was the appearance of new female physio, Jeanette Smith, running on to the pitch, who appeared a very embarrassed individual after giving The Cat the old sponge down the shorts treatment, and receiving a catalogue of wolf whistles on the way back.
The game – oh yes – well an easy victory after a cautious start. Veivers went in for the first and then Lockers added a second, who had given a strange performance in yesterday’s test match and gave a humorous ‘fists-up’ gesture to the crowd when he managed to kick a goal. Neil ‘Bomber’ Holding and and Froddy added further scores to take us out to 28-6 at the break.
In the second half, Veivers and Holding completed their hat-tricks and Alan Hunte scored two, who is now apparently nicknamed ‘The Shadow’ by his team mates, so there you have it, for future reference.
There is not a lot else to add so time to tell you about a well known Saints celebrity spectator, we refer to as Mr St. Helens (Neil Connolly). Slightly balding, mid-20s and knows absolutely every statistic possible about Rugby League and St. Helens RLFC especially. He travels on the No.1 SSC coach and, like his mate, Billy Bates, he jots down scrum details and all that shite. Some of us even reckon he is the brains behind Alex.
Anyway, I now feel that when we get some of those players back, we could well shake that division, metaphorically speaking of course!
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Tuesday 21st November 1989, 7.30pm
HULL 24 ST. HELENS 34
Another great victory for the Saints, although the previous week’s results mean that we dr#p a place but there aren’t many teams who will come to The Boulevard and get a victory and it proves that we really have turned that corner.
It was a long trip for a night match and unfortunately I was on the same coach as that riotous bunch of spotty girls who insist on causing aggro and abusing people for the whole journey. The butt of the skits were towards two vegetables sat behind me; e.g. they asked one of them to tell them about the birds and the bees. One replied “what, you mean when the birds eat the bees when they get hungry”. You had to be there to explain the amusement of seeing these two veggies rolling about, uncontrollably laughing at this particular unamusing retort. More amusing though was seeing the larger of the female adolescents not being able to get through the toilet door. Now, that was funny! It was an executive coach mind, and how I needed it after our 7-1 thrashing at the college charity football match, with aching limbs and all that, but that tasty hostess took my mind off all of that and even cheered me during the unfeasibly long walk to the ground that we had to endure.
During the game, I stood behind that silly semi-circle affair and watched a great first half performance including four tries for us. The fourth involved Veivers collecting the ball under the posts, passing it on to Elsie, who scooted past three players (no, I don’t mean his own!), onto Mexicano and then on to Froddy, who ran forty yards to the line.
At 28-14 up, in the second half, it looked like an easy victory but Hull stormed back to within four points. Mr St. Helens tried to convince us all that we had lost and we believed him. Then, in the last minute, Cooperman, who’d had a stormer, set the ball up for Grovesy to complete a rare hat-trick and we celebrated wildly, especially Mr St. Helens, who led the chants of ‘bye-bye’ to the home fans in embarrassing fashion.
I arrived home at a surprisingly early time after a quick two hour dash down the M62 and on to Haydock island and all in all, a bloody good day, except for that damned charity football match that was.
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 26th November 1989, 3.30pm
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS 23 ST. HELENS 24
A great, late comeback against a Rovers side with only one league win all season, and that away from home, enabled Saints winning run to continue and did we deserve it? No we didn’t, but who cares?
It was another long, boring journey into Yorkie land but at least we had a copy of that educated paper, The Sport, to keep us amused. The amusement though was somewhat tarnished as we were, once again, lumbered with the group of spotty adolescents on the coach, giving everyone ear ache. In typical SSC fashion, the coach driver turned the wrong way and we ended up in Pontefract but luckily we weren’t on the last minute and were in time to meet Toddy and Setter, who we left to their own boring spec at the bottom behind the posts, whilst I aimed for the hot dogs, which were as nice as ever.
The Shadow scored in the first minute and it looked as if we were in for a landslide victory, as they hadn’t won a home game thus far, although we had similar thoughts last season and we ended up getting beat.
At half time, we were a bit concerned as we only led 12-10 and those concerns were right as two tries and a Deryck Fox dr#p goal meant that we were 23-12 down and not just worried but downright pissed off. Throughout all this, an old crumblie stood next to us, decided on talking team selections and what not for 25 minutes non-stop then decided to go home fifteen minutes before the end. I mean, what’s the point? Strange fellow! Mind you, the team selection was a little strange with Veivers at loose forward, ‘Young Sprog’ Connolly, who played crap, at full back, thanks to Shane Cooper being suspended for eight games following Barrow grassing him up in midweek.
Mexicano pulled the score back to 23-16 and Lockers added the goal off the upright to put us within five points and give us a chance, Then, with three minutes left on the clock, a superb length of the field move, on the last tackle, was finished off by Young Sprog under the posts, to a tremendous celebration on the terraces and Lockers added the goal for a one point lead and a dead lucky win. Still, they all count and we still haven’t got those players back yet.
The journey home was uneventful except for someone throwing up everywhere and the stupid tarts at the back moaning every five minutes that they wanted the coach to stop so they should go the Khazi. The perils of alcoholic beverages methinks!
REGAL TROPHY 1ST ROUND – Saturday 2nd December 1989, 2.15pm
ST. HELENS 40 HULL KINGSTON ROVERS 26
Saints overcome a troublesome start to put the Second Division high flyers to the sword and earn a place in the last sixteen of the competition.
Unfortunately, those awkward sods at the BBC brought this game forward to the Saturday, for live television coverage, and thus this meant that I could not attend this intriguing fixture with the game clashing with City v Liverpool at Maine Road. That’s twice this season that TV has spoiled things for me and I am not impressed.
It would have been worrying had I been there but Rovers scored the first two tries and their incredibly vociferous support, stood near our own lads, apparently celebrated by jumping all over the Saints dug out. I can’t imagine what Alex had to say about that.
We pulled things around with two tries before the interval, either side of a controversial sending off of Mike Fletcher. After Dave Tanner’s try, the camera zoomed in on the lads and behind the boisterous singing of Pizza and the Watts Twins (Mike and Paul Dolan), you could just make out Martin, stood there not singing, like a stiff, although he was later unaware that he had ever been a TV star.
In the second half, Saints really gathered momentum to shut up the Rovers fans who were now becoming a little irritating. The Saints fans were noisy too though, for once, and there at last seemed a bit of atmosphere, which was surprising given the alleged absence of Weaver.
Early in the second period, Shadow completed a superb hat-trick and after his second try the camera had closed in for a close-up shot of his mush and, conveniently, just over his shoulder, could be seen Toddy and Setter doing their familiar try scoring greeting of a five seconds long hand clap, whereas the rest of the crowd partied in the traditional fashion.
From her on in, it was easy with Lockers and Veivers adding further scores and a good win despite what the press say.
When we get some of those players back, Cooper, Mann, Evans, Griffiths, Quirk, Bateman, Donegan, Frodsham and, perhaps, Ropati, we should shake the division, he said as if we hadn’t already after a ninth consecutive victory. We’re proud of you at the moment, Saints.
REGAL TROPHY 2ND ROUND – Sunday 10th December 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 12 DEWSBURY 12
“We’re proud of you!?”. Well, we’re bloody well not now! The pie-eaters will be choking on their meat and potatoes with laughter after this debacle. I mean, after nine successive wins, nothing less than fifty points would have sufficed against this lowly bunch of Second Division ragamuffins and there was no way in the world that anyone could believe that we wouldn’t even beat them. At the end of the day, we had to count ourselves lucky to force a replay after a cringeworthy defeat looked on the cards with less than ten minutes left on the clock.
It had been a really foggy day prior to the kick off and we were a little worried that the game might be called off. If only!
As typifies such a shambles, we fielded our strongest line up for some time with Georgie and Andy Bateman in the starting thirteen and Quirky and Griff back on the bench.
After ten minutes, we led only by 2-0 and we were dejected because we had not already scored a try or two. Little did we know what was to come as in an abysmal half, we failed to add anything more to the score and there were several hoots of derision as the half time hooter sounded. Pizza and Weaver were still in festive mood and we all had a good laugh thinking how knackered Dewsbury would be and how they would collapse with us running in tries akimbo in the second half. We didn’t!
At half time, as I wandered down for a pee, I saw Froddy and Young Sprog buying food at the burger van and you just can’t beat a bit of professionalism!
Shadow scored in the first minute after the resumption and we were all convinced that the avalanche was on it’s way but, incredibly, soon it was not only back to 6-6 but then after a blatant forward pass, marquis Charles (surely he should have been a Union player with a name like that) set up a try and we trailed by 12-6. By now, boredom and disbelief had turned into sheer panic. Griff came on to a heroes reception but even he couldn’t aid this disgraceful performance.
With eight minutes to go, Bony Tony Kay made a great run down the right and slipped the ball to Elsie who touched down underneath the posts and Lockers added the conversion to tie it up at 12-12. Griff then botched a scrum in the last minute on their line and it was a draw.
The ‘Resign Murphy’ comments were back in force, which was a bit harsh, but we now knew that our super team was, in fact, definitely not.
All this, means that I will now have to miss the replay due to me being on my college residential and I am not a happy chappy! Surprisingly, the spirit of the blitz kicked in and Martin and I were incredibly jolly on our way home, whereas Toddy and Setter sat there looking like their lives were about to come to a depressing end.
REGAL TROPHY 2ND ROUND REPLAY – Wednesday 13th December 1989, 7.30pm
DEWSBURY 0 ST. HELENS 14
Unfortunately, our pathetic performance on Sunday, ensuring a replay, meant that I missed this one due to being resident at Borwick Hall, in North Lancashire, for our college residential.
In fact, whilst this game was on, we were sat in a pub in Milnthorpe consuming large quantities of free alcoholic beverages following a similarly free meal. Therefore the first I knew of this sketchy win was via a Thursday morning paper through rather bleary eyes. The night being more memorable for one drunken colleague, celebrating his 18th birthday, being so obliterated that he randomly thought he was in the SAS, then the IRA, then Arnold Schwarzenegger before becoming Bruce Lee, albeit one that couldn’t find his way out of the toilet.
The match was moved to Wakefield due to Dewsbury’s home ground not being up to scratch and played out in front of a very sparse crowd and you suspected that, after Sunday’s majestic performance, there was no way we could ever play as badly again and we were just about right.
Early on, Griff scored a try under the posts, converted by Elsie, with Lockers being injured, and Saints looked comfortable although it was still only 6-0 at half time and the Yorkies were still in it, especially given the awful weather.
Soon after coming on, Quirky touched down in the corner. Welcome back Les! Surely now, we were home and hosed. The Young Sprog added another try before the end and we were happy, well I would have been had I actually known about it at the time! Now, why couldn’t we have just done this on Sunday instead of wasting valuable energy on a needless midweek game, and i would have been able to keep up my 100% away attendance record for the season?
Unfortunately the injury situation has gotten even worse with Holding off for an operation, Griff crocked yet again, Boyo bashing his hand with a hammer, as you do and Lockers might be back on Sunday but might not. To cap the lot, ‘Cuppa’ Tea Ropati made his debut, played twenty minutes before getting injured and Alex telling him to sod off back to New Zealand!
When those players get back, we could shake the division, but I seriously doubt it!
REGAL TROPHY QUARTER FINAL – Sunday 17th December 1989, 3.00pm
ST. HELENS 32 OLDHAM 18
Revenge over the Roughyeds following that shocking Lancashire Cup reversal earlier in the season and that’s just what they deserve for a team that adopts the brutish style of play tha they have utilised against us on both occasions.
The day started with acute pessimism due to our injury crisis and the 36-6 defeat back in September, even if they are a Second Division outfit but a biggish crowd had assembled for this big Quarter Final tie.
The lads were back in force on the terraces and, for a change, there was quite a bit of atmosphere. This was heightened when Duncan Platt, brother of Judas, Andy, was sent off for a trip on Grovesy in only the second minute of the game. Soon, Froddy, Shadow and Lockers were in for tries and, at 18-0, we celebrated what was going to be an easy victory.
Unfortunately, Saints are never ones for doing things the easy and orthodox way but such was our complacency at the time, that when I had a chat with Toddy and Setter at half time, the match never even rated a mention, such was our confidence.
Not long after the restart, Oldham notched a couple of tries, the score was back to 24-18 in our favour and we were in the ridiculous situation of worrying about a blowing an eighteen points lead to twelve men and, despite our injuries, it had turned into a pretty crap performance.
Weaver and the boys tried to get behind the lads, yet all I could do was scream and shout abusive, with frustration very much getting the better of me. Thankfully, we were then saved as Shadow went in for a try and Grovesy sealed the game, late on and I was reasonably happy again.
I was even happier on the way home, as the legendary Mr St. Helens actually spoke to me to ask for the score in the Sheffield game. Possibly the height of fame and maybe the most famous person I have ever met!
Alas, five players were playing with injuries so we are now reaching a major crisis point ahead of our Semi-Final with Second Division, Halifax, having been reasonably lucky with the draw once again; well, they are easily the worst team left in the competition, that’s for sure. Two trips to Central Park in a matter of a few days and roll on that big semi-final on Saturday. Come on lads, just do your stuff and we’ll be in the Final.
REGAL TROPHY SEMI-FINAL – Saturday 23rd December 1989, 2.15pm
(at Central Park, Wigan)
HALIFAX 10 ST. HELENS 9
Quite clearly, one of the worst days in my Rugby League supporting career as Saints, red hot favourites to reach the Final, unbeaten in twelve, taking on a Second Division outfit, completely embarrassed themselves and there can be no question that the better team won on the day, although, in some ways’ you could feasibly say that we were robbed – but we weren’t!
On the way to the game, Martin and I were so confident that we never mentioned the game and even the notorious Weaver and Pizza were quiet on the terraces. Surely we just couldn’t lose! Toddy must have thought that too as he disgracefully went Christmas shopping rather than attend this semi-final!
You may wonder why I cried that ‘we were robbed’, well, two legitimate tries were disallowed. Did anyone bar the referee spot the forward pass in the build up to The Cat breaking clear and Bony Tony definitely grounded the ball before going into touch. Big, fat, Brendan Hill constantly tried to ruin play by failing to release Saints players after the tackle and they strayed offside on dozens of occasions. Mr Kershaw had been awful in the middle. I dare say Halifax could point to four tries of their own being disallowed too, in the second half alone, but we won’t go into that!
Saints started okay with Lockers kicking a penalty before Fax pegged it back to 2-2. Apart from our two ‘legit’ tries being disallowed, Halifax completely bossed the game although they never looked like scoring and still couldn’t envisage defeat.
Royston added a dr#p goal but with 23 minutes left, the Rastafarian scored for Fax and we were 6-3 down. With eight minutes to go, they were in again and I was extremely dejected to say the least. Batman scored a late consolation but the clanger of the week award to Lockers for taking ages to line up the kick and the hooter sounded almost immediately. Funny how they blow up dead on time at Wigan when we are losing then add on loads of time when we are winning, like the Widnes, Challenge Cup Semi-Final for example.
Injuries to Georgie and Griff did not help our cause and now I am more than a bit worried about Boxing Day but we’ll still be there and we still love you and all that.
It was a very subdued journey home knowing we could and should have won this so easily yet just never turned up. Our friend Maurice Lindsay will undoubtedly be well chuffed and how nice it would be to stick it up to him in three days time. Come on you Saints!
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Tuesday 26th December 1989, 3.20pm
WIGAN 38 ST. HELENS 6
Well, and we thought Wembley was bad didn’t we? The only consolation is that the tide was stemmed after about fifty minutes because at one point I foresaw a record derby defeat on the horizon. To be fair, the injury crisis was at it’s worst with Griffiths (perhaps out for the season), Georgie, Royston and Veivers out, as well as the rest, with Connor and Lever making full debuts, but Saints were awful though, not even bothering to try at times and embarrassing us again against the old enemy.
We got in the ground at 1.30pm, as they were expecting a First Division record crowd and at first stood in the Kop (what a tip!) with all the lads but soon moved to the open end with no atmosphere and a distinctly awful view and you couldn’t even see the in-goal area, it was so packed. Unfortunately some freak with a wierd hair-do, looking like a bird’s nest stood in front of me and blocked my view even further. In protest, I threw a piece of rolled up paper into his hair which, of course, he didn’t notice but it brought about much mirth in the vicinity.
One thing that annoyed me was all the ‘ten to three’ fans coming along and delaying the kick off for twenty minutes. Pity it hadn’t been twenty years I suppose!
The Pies scored two tries very early on and we all knew that we were in for a tonking and even Weaver was extremely deflated. Only the fact that ‘Pervert’ Lydon (allegedly) is a useless kicker kept the score down to 24-0 at half time as the Pies ran in five tries and we fully expected at least fifty points.
During the second half, the Pies took it easy and with twenty minutes to go it was ‘only’ 28-0 and the whinging Wigan sods behind us were disconcerted with grief stricken cries of “Come on Wigan, this is rubbish”. Will the buggers ever be satisfied? You should be standing where we are mate!
By this time, half of the Saints fans had buggered off home. A couple more tries and it was 38-0 but we’d given them a run for our money eh and it was a tense finish!! In the last minute, Quirky raced fifty yards for a try, to save us being nilled again and Mr. St. Helens celebrated wildly with a hint of sarcasm perhaps and then the same man sprinted to the tunnel to shout “Resign Murphy” very loudly, at the end. One can understand the delirium but our injury problems are atrocious, and we will just have to see if we can bounce back from this latest Central Park debacle against Bradford on Friday.
STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP – Monday 1st January 1990, 3.10pm
ST. HELENS 8 WIDNES 18
More disappointment, against the hated Comics, and Championship ambitions look to have gone down the drain for yet another year.
At first glance, we appeared to have a good team out, on paper, but seven of those were playing with injuries, so bad is the injury crisis at present. It’s a pity Bradford Northern didn’t appreciate that when we were forced to cancel our planned Friday night game, a few days ago. Big Stuey Evans was one of those back and was deservedly man of the match.
It was packed up with the lads on the terraces and a few old faces had returned. Weaver had a rather strange conversation with an Aussie Sheila who was working for Sky TV, although the stupid boy thought that she was from London. When he found out, the old favourites such as “is it Christmas in Australia yet?” and “where’s your boomerang” and all that clichéd crap were out. To be fair, she was a bit of a strange sort though, not watching the game at all and surely becoming the first person in history to sit down in a packed Scaff, during the game, reading a microwave cookbook!
The first half was a corker with our injury ravaged heroes bombarding the Chemics line but not breaking through, despite the return of Cooperman. Unfortunately, Veivers was sin-binned on the stroke of half-time and that proved to be a turning point.
At half-time we light heartedly abused some Widnes fans below us, although whoever put that lighted ciggie in one of their coat hoods probably went a trifle too far as smoke billowed from the fur lining! He didn’t seem that bothered though until Martin threw a rolled up bus ticket at him, then his mate threatened to get the police on him!
Depression was rife early in the second half as Alan Tait and that sneaky toe rag, Davies scored early tries and we trailed 14-0. Veivers scored a try and two goals from Lockers brought it back to 8-14, only for Davies to score again in the final minute of the game.
So, chances of the league are gone now, if we had any anyway but, at the end of the day, what could you expect from a bunch of crocks. All we can hope is that they will be fit for the Castleford game in two weeks time because the Challenge Cup is all we have got left now.
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