Widnes the unstoppable cup machine
Mike Hyde, Coventry Bears Media Reporter
On Saturday, Coventry Bears face Super League Widnes Vikings.
However, a glance at the Super League records show they have never won that competition in twenty years of its existence. But when it comes to the Challenge Cup, it’s a different story because they have won that trophy seven times, with four of those wins in the space of a ‘golden decade’ from 1974-1984, when they also played but lost in three other finals at Wembley,
Indeed, the words ‘cup’ and ‘Widnes’ became synonymous at this time, as the ‘Chemics’ [ as they were fondly known after the local chemical industry] also won the Lancashire Cup five times in the same period, plus the League cup twice, and also the BBC2 Floodlit trophy. That’s twelve cups in ten years seasons!
1979 saw them at their Cup winning peak, as in that year they won the BBC2 Trophy, the Lancashire Cup, and were also winners of the League prior to it becoming ‘Super ’some sixteen years later.
In those days, I watched perennial losers Doncaster, but occasionally indulged in the glamour of Wakefield Trinity as a few of the guys at my first proper job followed them. Trinity played St Helens and beat them 9-7 at Headingley in a tense semi-final. But then the grim reality set in;
The opponents would be Widnes.
The score that day in front of 94,218 at Wembley was Widnes 12 Wakefield 3, and that scoreline shows the tight and ruthless nature of the ‘Cup Kings’.
Widnes had had beaten Warrington 14-7 five years previously, then lost to St Helens in 1976 and to Leeds in 1977. They beat Hull KR 18-9 in 1981, before losing in a replay to Hull FC the year after. 1984 saw them beat Wigan 19-6.
In 1993 they again reached Wembley but by then their glory days were over and they haven’t been back since.
But for Widnes the Cup was, is, and always will be something special and the current wearers of the famous Black and White kit will be mindful of that as they face the Bears, who have set a record of their own in reaching this, the fifth round for the first time in their short history.