Favorite Moments - 001-025 Your fun memories from EOTB

FM17 - My Trip to the 1954 Cup Replay, played at Odsal before 103,000 people, Warrigton v Halifax - Prof John Shepherd, Trinidad.

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Monday, May 14, 2012
Prof John Shepherd
St Augustine, Trinidad,
West Indies
Warrington .. is the club I follow

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I am JBS from the P and B website. In 1954 I was fifteen years old and lived in Warrington but I am a long way from there now. Bradford is about 40 miles from Warrington and there is now a 6-lane motorway called the M-62 that passes both towns so you can drive it in not much more than half an hour. The kid on the P and B website probably thought the Romans built it but it didn't open until 1970. In 1954 the main road from south Lancashire to Yorkshire was a narrow winding road over the Pennines. The railway was a much better way of doing the trip because you could catch the train directly from Warrington to Odsal. That was the way me and my mates went. That day there was a stream of special trains leaving at 15-minute intervals. There were also hundreds of coaches from Warrington and the nearby RL towns – Wigan, Widnes, St. Helens, Leigh etc.- doing the trip by road and they all converged on that single road.

We didn’t think the crowd would be all that big. We had drawn 4-4 with Halifax at Wembley the previous Saturday and the crowd there was only around 60-70,000. There were only four days between match and replay so there was no time to print tickets. At one point the railway ran alongside the road. That was when we realized that something big was on. There were coaches nose-to-tail all the way up to the top and down the other side with no movement at all. We got to Bradford about half an hour before the kick off and walked to the ground. Odsal then was not really a stadium. It was just a big natural hole in the ground with a football pitch at the bottom and one grandstand close to the touchline and another opposite at the top of the slope.

(see http://www.thisisbradford.co.uk/bradford__district/bradford/news/jim56.html for a picture).

The standing area was bare hillside with crush barriers scattered about. It rose up in two or three huge steps and the flat bits were dead ground where you couldn’t see the pitch. You can see one of these down the left hand side of the picture. Nobody really knew what the capacity of the ground was. The turnstiles were behind the stand at the top where it says ODSAL STADIUM and at the bottom right where it says BRADFORD NORTHERN RLFC. There were so many people outside the ground that we couldn’t get to the turnstiles but the crowd pushed a long section of the fence down flat and we simply walked in. I would guess that at least 10,000 people came in that way but were not counted in the official attendance. There were other holes in the fence too.

I don’t remember much of the actual match I’m afraid. Jim Challinor used the great Brian Bevan as a foil to score the first try early on. Scrum half Gerry Helme scored the second late on and Harry Bath converted one of them but I can’t remember which one. The trains on the way back were even more tightly packed than the ones going because most of the people who had managed to reach the ground by coach hopped the train to come back. As we ran along the roadside again it was a complete mess. Many of the coaches were still facing towards Bradford and were tangled up with the ones coming back. We got home on time and the whole town was rocking. Great days!!!



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