Blast from the Past: Featherstone win the 1983 Challenge Cup

League and cup champions Hull FC were overwhelming favourites when they arrived at Wembley in their sharp suits for the 1983 Challenge Cup final.

Opponents Featherstone were also a special team though, and after a thrilling 80 minutes of action, a show of sheer spirit and belief saw them cause a massive upset, meaning it would be their names written in rugby league folklore.

Terry Jones, 75, has been a Rovers fan all his life, and he was the club secretary at the time of the 1983 final.

He recently re-told the 14-12 success to Love Rugby League, and described it as ‘the pinnacle’ of his life in rugby league.

“It was absolutely fantastic because we won against all the odds,” said Jones.

“The bookies stopped taking money on Hull before the game, and the general opinion was that they just had to turn up to win.

“Featherstone coach Allan Agar had different ideas though, and the way it happened was like a fairytale.”

Featherstone captain at the time, Terry Hudson, put in an outstanding overall performance but he was sin-binned early on, and as Jones explained, at that moment everything pointed to a Hull victory.

“We thought our chance had gone when Terry was sin-binned. Looking back at the footage, when Hull took the lead, there is an image of their coach Arthur Bunting sitting back and relaxing with a cigar like Al Capone. We came back though, and in some style too.

“I had been to Featherstone’s training base before the final, and they were working hard on a move off the back of a scrum in which they would go blind in the hope of scoring.

“The first try went exactly like that, and it was great to see it come off. Although Steve Quinn’s penalty was the winning moment, seeing the team’s hard work produce a score like that is probably my favourite memory.

Rovers have never repeated their victory of 1983, but with strong ambitions from the club to enter Super League, Jones is hopeful that they can begin competing at the top again soon.

He is however disappointed with what the Challenge Cup has become in modern day rugby league.

“I would love to see Featherstone do well in the Challenge Cup, but with the way it is marketed nowadays, the competition, and especially the final, seems to be losing its appeal.

“There always used to be an annual pilgrimage to Wembley for the final, even if the club you supported was not involved in the match.

“That does not happen anymore, and it is hard to understand, but people do not look forward to it as much now.

“For me though it will always be special, and I will certainly never forget the marvellous 1983 final.”

Featherstone Rovers 14-12 Hull FC

Lance Todd Trophy Winner: David Hobbs.

Featherstone: N Barker, J Marsden, S Quinn, J Gilbert, K Kellett, A Banks, T Hudson (Capt.), M Gibbins, R Handscombe, S Hankins, D Hobbs, T Slatter, P Smith. Subs: P Lyman, G Siddall.

Hull: G Kemble, D O’Hara, S Evans, J Leuluai, P Prenderville, D Topliss (Capt.), P Harkin, T Skerrett, J Bridges, C Stone, Rose, T Crooks, S Norton. Subs: Day, Crane.

Attendance: 85,700.

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