Discovering that Dewsbury had a Rugby League team as a young boy was an exciting moment for me and one thing my Dad told me about the club resonated with me more than anything else.
That was that Dewsbury had played in the first Challenge Cup final to be staged at Wembley – and I was keen to know more about it!
The first ever Challenge Cup final was in 1897 when our local rivals, Batley, defeated St Helens 10-3 at Headingley.
The final continued to be staged in the north until that landmark year of 1929, when the Rugby League authorities voted 13-10 to take the final to Wembley Stadium.
Dewsbury commenced their journey to the capital with a 37-0 home win against Cottingham.
Swinton were beaten 14-7 at Crown Flatt in Round Two.
Just as in our 1973 Championship triumph, we had to overcome a tough challenge away at Warrington next – a fine 10-4 victory ensued.
One final hurdle remained, the Challenge cup semi final against Castleford at the neutral venue of Fartown, Huddersfield.
Castleford were not known as Tigers back then – they were the Glassblowers – but they failed to blow out our heroes from Crown Flatt as we triumphed 9-3.
So, it was on to the big city !
The press dubbed it a battle between the defiant young men from Crown Flatt and the strongest and most prosperous club in the land, Wigan.
The Dewsbury team travelled by train from the railway station amidst much excitement in the town.
For those supporters not able to make the trip to the Empire Stadium, the final was broadcast on radio – the first ever Rugby League game to hit the airwaves !
The broadcast was heard by many at the Majestic Cinema in Dewsbury as well as clubs and shops in the town.
With the local cricket season having commenced the the match was also being broadcast at the various cricket grounds of the Heavy Woollen district.
It wasn’t just the game either – community singing and the Cup Final hymn ‘Abide With Me’ were all being transmitted back to home territory.
Sadly, things were transpiring against our heroes in the deep south.
One of the things my dad told me was that shortly before they took to the field Dewsbury were told to divert from their normal tactics.
Due to this being the first final to be staged in the south, they were told to throw the ball around in an attempt to impress the southerners in the crowd.
The Dewsbury players were not happy with this and were also not happy with their terms of payment.
They were on a match fee of five shillings – win, lose or draw.
Apparently, the players requested 20 shillings for winning the Cup, and nothing for losing, but our committee would not agree.
So Dewsbury and Wigan took to the pitch for a final refereed by Mr Bob Robinson of Bradford.
Wigan’s legendary full back Jim Sullivan kicked a penalty goal after three minutes to become the first Rugby League player to score at Wembley.
It was a hard fought final but Wigan ultimately triumphed 13-2. The Dewsbury goal was kicked by full back Jack Davies.
There were two links with modern-day Dewsbury!
Firstly, it is said that cries of “come on Dews” were heard reverberating around Wembley.
Secondly, wearing the number five jersey for Dewsbury was Henry Coates.
Henry is described as being one of the smallest wingers in the league but also one of the fastest.
Henry was the brother of the Grandfather of Charlie Coates – yes, the same Charlie Coates who has supported Dewsbury all his life and who now does such great work as part of The Amber Ribbon.
Henry possessed a fantastic body swerve and side step which, allied to his speed, made him a fearsome opponent.
Legend has it that he was the first player to utilise the dummy pass – he actually sounds like the Jason Robinson of his day!
So, a 13-2 defeat in front of 41500 – an attendance that justified the move to Wembley and the forerunner of so many pilgrimages from the north.
As for Wigan, they have now won the Challenge Cup a record 19 times.
Dewsbury returned home on the following Monday evening to be greeted by 3000 fans at Dewsbury Railway Station.
Captain Joe Lyman was astonished by the welcome home and said he could not imagine what the welcome would have been like if they had actually won the Cup!
I think this depends on your age but I will confess that Dewsbury being knocked out of the Cup is always a sickener for me every season.
I am realistic enough to know that unless the the game changes drastically I am unlikely to see us in a Challenge Cup Final for the rest of my lifetime, but it remains special to me and I always want us to stay in as long as possible.
One thing that made me smile was hearing that prior to the 2016 final, Wigan coach Shaun Wane showed his players footage of that 1929 final to inspire them as to the traditions of what for many is still the premier competition in our game.