Friday, July 24, 2020

#WFMuseumStaffPick: Wakefield Trinity and me

As part of our regular Staff Picks social media feature, our Visitor Assistant Debbie tells us about her chosen object and her passion for Wakefield Trinity.

I’m a big lover of the great game of rugby league- especially Wakefield Trinity. We once were a great club and have plenty of history surrounding us. Wakefield Trinity was established way back in 1873 by a group of men from the Holy Trinity Church. They played on various pitches, including Heath Common, before moving to Belle Vue in 1879, where they still play to this day. Their colours are red white and blue and the nickname they have is ‘Dreadnoughts’. Rumour has it, it is because ‘they dread nowt’.

Club colour badge in Wakefield Trinity colours for wearing in a button hole or hat

Cap awarded to Trinity forward, Joe Longbottom, for the 1879-80 season

The 'water splash' final boots

Everyone knows about the Challenge Cup ‘water splash’ final in 1968. Some say that it should have never been played due to the torrential weather conditions but, according to officials, telling nearly 90,000 spectators that it was cancelled would have caused mayhem. In the last minute of the game,  Don Fox missed a conversion right in front of the posts, which would have won Trinity the game. Instead, Wakefield lost to Leeds 11-10. Despite the loss and the missed conversion, Don Fox got man of the match and claimed the Lance Todd Trophy.

Although I wasn’t around at this time, it is great that we have a display in the museum, where some things relating to that game are on show. Many people who look in the case might just see some old rugby boots but these rugby boots are actually the ones that Don Fox wore in the water splash final. These are the actual boots that kicked and missed the conversion. To me personally, I feel so proud to have these in our display as Don Fox was a great asset to our club and to Great Britain. I can’t help but imagine myself being there and actually witnessing that moment. What must he be feeling? Every rugby league fan knows or has heard about the 1968 ‘water splash’ Challenge Cup final. And this will keep Wakefield and Don Fox in the history books.

Wakefield Museum is very grateful to Don Fox's family for kindly loaning us the boots for our displays.

The Yorkshire Cup and my favourite game

In the season of 1934 Wakefield Trinity made it to the final of the Yorkshire Cup along with Leeds. This match ended in a 5-5 draw, meaning a replay, which again resulted in a draw. They then had to have a third game and Leeds finally took the cup. This is the only occasion to have had three attempts to settle the Yorkshire Cup.

I got into supporting Wakefield Trinity by being invited down to Belle Vue by a couple of their players at the time. I did go watch my brother play rugby sometimes but it was in open fields and I remember always being so cold. Being in the stands with thousands of supporters, it felt so different and the excitement and buzz got me hooked.

My favourite ever season was 1991/1992. That season we made it to yet another Yorkshire Cup final- Wakefield Trinity v Sheffield Eagles at Elland Road in Leeds. I remember being stood in the middle of nearly 8000 fans and the singing, the shouting, the cheering was electric. The half time score was 11-0 to Wakefield. Elland Road was buzzing. Sheffield got back in the game in the second half but Wakefield kept their cool and scored some fantastic tries. It ended with Wakefield getting the victory, winning 29-16.

For me, when the final whistle blew, I just couldn’t believe it. We’d done it! I had finally seen my club winning a cup (and probably my last.)My favourite ever team and some of my favourite ever players, including Geoff Bagnall, Andy Mason and local Stanley lad, Nigel Wright, who got man of the match. It was an amazing day followed by a massive celebration back at Belle Vue.

After all these years, we are still the current holders of the Yorkshire Cup. It got scrapped soon after because of fixture congestion. They were introducing it again this season within the lower leagues, but with the current situation, no games have yet been played.

Super League

In 1996 the rugby league world was going through changes. The season changed from winter rugby to summer rugby and the British clubs were given a large sum of money to form the Super League. A lot of clubs were asked to merge, including Wakefield, Castleford and Featherstone. If it had been successful, we would have been called Calder. 

Unfortunately, it proved to be very unpopular with a lot of clubs, which led to protesting on pitches and signing petitions. The merger idea was scrapped and Wakefield Trinity didn’t make it into Super League. It wasn’t until 1998 that Wakefield beat Featherstone 24-22 in a controversial Grand Final and entered the Super League. With the start of our first ever Super League season came the added name Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. This is what we would now be called until it was dropped in 2016.

Another great game I remember came in 2006 with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats playing Castleford Tigers in a relegation battle at Belle Vue. It was a game full of tension and emotion. The final score resulted in Castleford being relegated with Wakefield winning to stay in Super League 29-17. This game will always be called ‘The Battle of Belle Vue’.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats home and away shirts, 2006

The rugby league family

I know quite a lot of our visitors and staff like a bit of rugby and some are fans of other clubs. At the end of the day, this rugby league world we are in is just one big family! This has been proven by the horrific accident that happened earlier this year at Belle Vue. Mose Masoe (aged 30) was in a collision that left him paralysed from the chest down. It was sadly career ending and life changing but the rugby league family came together and raised nearly £110000. Mose was told he may never walk again but his fight and determination have got him walking with the parallel bars. What an inspiration! Pinderfields hospital have played a major part in Mose’s journey to recovery and he has praised them in the media. I also wish him a speedy and healthy recovery.

I am proud to be part of this rugby world.
I am proud to be a supporter.
I am proud of our NHS.
And YES, I’m proud to be a Wakefield Trinity fan!

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