1954 Challenge Cup

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1954 Challenge Cup
Duration 5 rounds
Winners Wolvescolours.svg Warrington
Runners-up Faxcolours.svg Halifax

The 1953–54 Challenge Cup was the 53rd staging of rugby league's oldest knockout competition, the Challenge Cup.[1] It featured clubs from the 1953–54 Northern Rugby Football League season and is notable for its Final which had to be replayed before possibly the largest crowd in rugby league history.

First Round[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
6 Feb Halifax 19 Dewsbury 0
6 Feb Hull FC 24 Widnes 0
6 Feb Keighley 12 Barrow 11
6 Feb Latchford Albion 20 Wigan 40
6 Feb Leeds 13 Batley 20
6 Feb Liverpool 5 Oldham 15
6 Feb Wakefield Trinity 24 Whitehaven 13
6 Feb York 18 Hull Kingston Rovers 0
13 Feb Barrow 6 Keighley 10
13 Feb Batley 6 Leeds 23
13 Feb Castleford 8 Doncaster 5
13 Feb Oldham 18 Liverpool 11
13 Feb Rochdale Hornets 9 Bradford Northern 9
13 Feb Leigh 13 Swinton 4
13 Feb St Helens 26 Featherstone Rovers 7
13 Feb Warrington 17 Bramley 0
13 Feb Wheldale 6 Workington Town 32
13 Feb Whitehaven 15 Wakefield Trinity 3
13 Feb Widnes 2 Hull FC 5
13 Feb Wigan 41 Latchford Albion 2
15 Feb Belle Vue Rangers 15 Huddersfield 20
16 Feb Dewsbury 9 Halifax 5
17 Feb Bradford Northern 11 Rochdale Hornets 2
17 Feb Bramley 5 Warrington 30
17 Feb Featherstone Rovers 16 St Helens 27
17 Feb Huddersfield 31 Belle Vue Rangers 6
17 Feb Hunslet 20 Salford 5
17 Feb Swinton 2 Leigh 17
17 Feb Workington Town 50 Wheldale 2
18 Feb Doncaster 7 Castleford 2
18 Feb Hull Kingston Rovers 0 York 0
22 Feb Salford 3 Hunslet 18

Second Round[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
06 Mar Halifax 24 Keighley 5
06 Mar Huddersfield 12 St Helens 5
06 Mar Hull FC 5 Workington Town 5
06 Mar Hunslet 10 Whitehaven 2
06 Mar Leeds 12 Leigh 3
06 Mar Oldham 4 Warrington 7
06 Mar Wigan 15 Bradford Northern 10
06 Mar York 11 Doncaster 2
11 Mar Workington Town 17 Hull FC 14

Quarter Finals[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
20 Mar Hunslet 16 Huddersfield 7
20 Mar Leeds 31 Workington Town 11
20 Mar Warrington 26 York 5
20 Mar Wigan 0 Halifax 2

Semi Finals[edit]

Date Team One Score One Team Two Score Two
03 Apr Halifax 18 Hunslet 3
03 Apr Warrington 8 Leeds 4


Halifax and Warrington, the teams that finished first and second respectively on the Championship ladder (separated by only one competition point), reached the Challenge Cup Final Saturday 24 April 1954. It was played at Wembley and 81,841 spectators saw what turned out to be a lacklustre match.

24 April 1954
Warrington 4 – 4 Halifax
Goals Bath (2/6) [2] Goals Griffiths (2/4)
Wembley, London
Attendance: 81,841
Referee: Ron Gelder (Wakefield)

After a couple of penalties, Halifax led 4-0 at half time, then in the second half Warrington drew level, also kicking two penalties. The final score was 4 - 4 and it remains the only time Wembley hasn't seen a single try on Cup Final day. The re-play was scheduled for 5pm on Wednesday 5 May 1954 at Odsal Stadium, Bradford.

Final replay[edit]

Around 70,000 spectators were expected at Odsal for the replay which was rescheduled for a 7pm kick-off to avoid the rush hour traffic. The twenty trains and fifty buses, specially scheduled for the match, as well as the 100 gatesmen and 150 policemen at the ground were therefore believed to be adequate. However the closeness with which the two teams were matched and the prospect of the Challenge Cup decider coming north for the first time in a decade seem to have generated immense interest.

People had started queuing a good hour before the shuttle buses started running from 4:25pm. The gates opened at 5.00pm, and by that time some people had already been queuing for an hour and a half. At an hour before kick off there were already an estimated 60,000 in the ground. The traffic on the roads in the surrounding area was at a standstill as more and more spectators converged on the stadium. Some squatted around the pitch, while others climbed onto rooftops for a better view. Fences around the ground had collapsed, as more people struggled to cram into the bowl of Odsal before kick-off. The official figure for the crowd at the match was 102,575,.[3] However it is widely believed that the real figure for spectators present is closer to 120,000.[4]

5 May 1954
7 pm
Warrington 8 – 4 Halifax
Try Challinor, Helme
Goals Bath (2)
[5] Goals Griffiths (2)
Odsal Stadium, Bradford
Attendance: 102,575
Referee: Ron Gelder
Man of the Match: Gerry Helme
Warrington Posit. Halifax
Eric Frodsham (c) 1. FB Tyssul Griffiths
Brian Bevan 2. WG Arthur Daniels
Jim Challinor 3. CE Tommy Lynch
Ron Ryder 4. CE Billy Mather
Stan McCormick 5. WG Dai Royston Bevan
Ray Price 6. SO Ken Dean
Gerry Helme 7. SH Stan Kielty
Danny Naughton 8. PR John Thorley
Frank Wright 9. HK Alvin Ackerley (c)
Gerard Lowe 10. PR Jack Wilkinson
Harry Bath 11. SR Albert Fearnley
Austin Heathwood 12. SR Derrick Schofield
Bob Ryan 13. LF Des Clarkson

The match itself was another low-scoring struggle, but an improvement on the last one. Jim Challinor opened the scoring with a try for Warrington after nine minutes. Half an hour later, Tyssul Griffiths kicked a penalty for the Halifax side, who had also had two tries disallowed. This meant a half time score of 3 - 2 in favour of Warrington.

The third quarter of the match saw additional goals kicked by both Griffiths and Harry Bath, bringing the score to 5 - 4, still just one point in favour of Warrington. Then Gerry Helme scored a try, which Bath couldn't convert, putting Warrington four points clear of Halifax, but still within a converted try. Controversy reared just before full-time, when Halifax had a third try disallowed by referee Ron Gelder. Warrington had claimed their 4th Challenge Cup, with Helme winning the Lance Todd Trophy for his match-winning performance, the first player to do so twice.


  1. ^ "Challenge Cup 1953/54". Rugby League Project. 
  2. ^ "OUR RUGBY FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT. "A Drawn Rugby Cup Final." Times [London, England] 26 Apr. 1954". The Times Digital Archive. 
  3. ^ "The History Of Rugby League". Rugby League Information. napit.co.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Hadfield, Dave (2004-05-06). "Mud, blood and memories of the day when 102,575 made history at Odsal". The Independent. UK: Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  5. ^ "OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. "Rugby League Cup For Warrington." Times [London, England] 6 May 1954". The Times Digital Archive.