Brisbane Brothers’ forward, David Wright tasted success at the iconic Wembley Stadium in London as part of Warrington’s Challenge Cup side, in a 24-9 win over Featherstone Rovers.
Wright earned an off-season stint with Cheshire club, Warrington after winning Channel 7’s best player award for the 1973 Brisbane season.
After Wembley, he was to come back to Brisbane to play the rest of the season with Brothers, who had a new boss – former Sydney St George lower grade coach, Paul Broughton.
At Warrington, Wright had a captain-coach – the legendary Alex Murphy, whose 27 Test career with Great Britain had come to an end.
Murphy was as ruthless as ever, despite his advanced years and kicked two field goals late in the Wembley match, to extend Warrington’s lead to 12 points, before Welshman, Mike Nicholas scored a try five minutes from the end, to snuff out any chance of a Featherstone comeback.
After having won at Wembley with St Helens in 1966 and Leigh in 1971, Murphy had his Warrington players fired up, and their play was described as ‘robust’, by one publication, in what was described as a major understatement.
In the 30th minute, Murphy retired to the dressing rooms with a rib injury and Featherstone (a West Yorkshire club), grabbed the lead, thanks to a try by skipper, John Newlove (whose son, Paul would go on to represent Great Britain). At halftime the Rovers led 9-8.
Murphy, with the aid of five pain killing injections, returned to the fray, and started a move which resulted in a try to hooker, Kevin Ashcroft.
Warrington fullback, Derek Whitehead won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match. The Challenge Cup was presented to Murphy by John Armstrong, the High Commissioner for Australia.
Aside from Murphy, Warrington’s best known players were former Welsh rugby union winger, John Bevan; 1970 Great Britain tourist, Dave Chisnall and Test hooker, Kevin Ashcroft; while for Featherstone, halfback, Steve Nash was a rising superstar. Featherstone were coached by Peter Fox.
Footnote: The first Wembley Challenge Cup was played in 1929, when Wigan beat Dewsbury 13-2. On that occasion the Cup was presented to Wigan captain, Jim Sullivan by Lord Daresbury.
In the period 1930 to 1974, the Cup was presented by the likes of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh; Australian cricket legend, “Our” Don Bradman; British Prime Ministers, Clem Atlee, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher; American Ambassadors, John Hay Whitney (1958) and Walter Annenberg (1972); Field Marshall Montgomery; Sir Denis Blundell, (the New Zealand High Commissioner); and Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Whitney was an outstanding polo player.
Photo 1: John Newlove scores for Feartherston in 1974
Photo 2: The Queen presents the Challenge Cup to Wakefield captain, Derek ‘Rocky’ Turner in 1960