Favorite Moments - 001-025 Your fun memories from EOTB

fm11 - 1971 My First visit to Wembley, We nearly fooled Dad.

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Monday, May 14, 2012
Gary Kitchen
Leeds .. is the club I follow

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Wembley 1971

In 1971 Leeds reached the Challenge Cup Final. I'd been taken to the semi-final at Odsal by my dad and his mate, a match memorable only for the fierce hail and rain downpour late in the second half which saw us breaking down a wire fence to get under cover.

On the Monday morning at school there was no doubt in our minds, Patrick Stewart, Rodney Emmott and me were going to Wembley for the final. There was no question that it wouldn't happen, we were 14 years old and worldly-wise, we had Saturday jobs that gave us cash-in-pocket and we knew that tickets for the final were on sale later that week.

We all decided that a fait-acomplis was the best approach - there was no point in telling our parents before we'd got the tickets because there was no way that they would let us go, so after school on the Thursday the three of us caught the bus into Headingley, queued up the stairs to the tiny ticket office behind the north stand and bought three upper tier standing tickets for the final.

I sat on the bus staring at my ticket all the way home - equivalent today to a space shuttle ticket to the moon I could not believe that we had done it - we were going to Wembley.

Or at least we were going to Wembley until my dad found out.

Suprisingly he wasn't annoyed. I told him the following evening that we wanted to go, when he said we couldn't (we were too young, it was too expensive, it was too far) I showed him the ticket and stated very proudly that it was all organised - he just looked at me and said "how are you going to get there then ?"

Now we hadn't actually thought that bit through yet, in fact it would be true to say that the thought had never crossed our mind. Of course a 14 year old can't admit to his dad that he didn't think about such a basic thing as "how do we get there ?", and so I told him that Rodney's dad was giving us a lift.

My dad never said a word, it was the first thing that had come to my mind and I didn't know that he knew that Rodney's dad didn't have a car, in fact he couldn't drive. Three days later my dad came home and told me that we owed him £4.50, the cost of three coach tickets with the supporters club coach. He fixed it just like that, never said another word, he went out and pulled a few strings, asked a few favours of some mates and found us three seats on the supporters club coach, plus a promise from a mate who was booked on the same bus that he'd look out for us - amazing, another one of lifes great lessons, if you cant persuade your kids not to do something then at least make sure they do it properly.

The trip to Wembley started early, we left Headingley at around 7am in an old tour bus that had seen its best days in world war two, I swear that it had blackout curtains and a sign above the drivers seat that read "careless lips cost ships". We arrived at Wembley many hours later, absolutely knackered after stopping at most of the service stations on the nearly completed M1 - most of our fellow passengers were pensioners with delicate bladders, in fact it was only the presence of us three 14 year olds that kept the average age on the bus below 80.

As usual the match itself passed oh so quickly - I never fail to be amazed how every challenge cup game, whatever round, always passes quickly. Ten minutes after kick-off its half time, quarter of an hour later you're in the car on the way home.

The 1971 final was famous for two things, the Leeds centre Syd Hynes flattened the Leigh stand-off Alex Murphy and our tickets earned us a place standing on the last row at the back of the stadium, two hundred yards away from the pitch - we needed eyes like superman's to recognise even the vaguest of details.

We did however see the sending off incident, and never did a player deserve a good chinning like Alex Murphy. It was worth having one of your players go down in dubious history as the first player ever to be sent off at Wembley, just to see Alex Murphy carried off the pitch unconcious on a stretcher. Our joy however was short lived as Mr Murphy was faking it, jumping from the stretcher as soon as he reached the players tunnel beneath us, Syd should have hit him harder.

We were beaten that day and thus began the journey back up the M1 in a bus full of fed-up supporters, a journey that would become familiar to me in later years, inquests going on in every row of the bus, everyone agreeing that Murphy had conned the referee, that Syd should have hit him a couple more times for good luck, on and on into the night as our WWII bus shook its way back up the M1 at a breathtaking 40mph, cardboard gas mask holders falling from the luggage rack at every lurch. .

COMMENT ADDED 1/12/2004 From Londoner - off Leigh RL forum----


There is a story on your biff website from Gary Kitchen (Leeds UK) regarding Alex Murphy in the '71 cupfinal. He was carried off and never came back on the pitch. He did however reappear to lift the trophy. At the time he was carried off and syd hynes was sent off leigh had all but won the game.

It was alleged that murph winked as he was being carried off. But he certainly didn't jump off the stretcher and rejoin play.


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