The Challenge Cup Final of May ‘68

Is etched in my memory from that fateful date

Affording the chance for the Good to be Great

For some though the memory mocks

None more so than Wakey’s Don Fox.


For those unfamiliar this was the scene

The climax of which was the best ever seen

An epic Cup Final contested between

West Yorkshire’s top pedigree breeds

The pride of Wakefield and Leeds.


But it bucketed stair rods that May afternoon

The pitch being waterlogged carnage was strewn

And neither were Trinity or Leeds immune

Which made for a game full of errors

That forever would give Fox the terrors.


For most of the game Wakey held Leeds at bay

Then Leeds got a try;  “We were cheated” they’d say;

A penalty too with just seconds to play

“Controversial” wasn’t the word!

Through decades the charge has been heard.


With scarcely no time for the match to restart

The Gods of the Weather would now play their part

As over the waterlogged pitch Hirst would dart

As though it was almost bone dry

To score a miraculous try.


An easy conversion would settle the game

Whoever would kick it would reap the acclaim

For ever in Wakefield they’d hallow his name

For such opportunity knocks

But once for the legend, Don Fox.


But the Gods of the Weather had not had their say

And wanted more fun in that mud and the spray

As Fox took his kick they sliced it away;

His sobs could be heard all around.

As Fox slumped in tears to the ground


The “Watersplash Final” played on cabbage patch

Remembered for plans the Gods chose to hatch;

Ironically, Fox was the Man of the Match

Though that never would ease the shocks

When nightmares awakened Don Fox.


Don Fox lived his life till 2008

Some 40 years on from that fateful date;

Despite his achievements it’s been his cruel fate

To relive in the mud and the rain

A lifetime of one second’s pain.




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John Coopey

Tue 10th Jan 2023 17:27

I think there is a dividing line, Stephen, between those unfortunates the Gods have some fun with and those whose demise is self-inflicted eg Lance Armstrong. I wonder if Gatting's contribution was self-inflicted in that it was a failed demonstration of arrogant over-ambition or sheer rotten luck.

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Stephen Gospage

Tue 10th Jan 2023 16:26

Mike Gatting with his reverse sweep in the 1987 cricket world cup? (The lunch must have been a bit small).

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John Coopey

Tue 10th Jan 2023 08:47

Thanks for your thoughts, MC. And for the Like Stephen A.
The You Tube clip below is remarkable in that the game kicked of in brilliant spring sunshine but ended as a waterpark with rugby virtually unplayable,

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 9th Jan 2023 23:09

I was drawn to click on the link provided by JC and thought it
extraordinary after previous more difficult chances to score, that
the last, which couldn't have been much closer or head-on to
plant the ball between those inviting tall posts should have
been "fluffed" so disastrously by the same player. Ouch indeed. .

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John Coopey

Mon 9th Jan 2023 17:35

Thankyou, Stephen. I think the great Roberto Duran might be in the group after his “No mas” submission against Sugar Ray Leonard. Zinedine Zidane however doesn’t seem to be too tainted.
And thanks for the Likes, Frederick, Melinda and Uilleam.

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 9th Jan 2023 16:40

I remember watching this final on TV, John, and your poem really brings the day back to me. Although we were from the South, BBC covered a lot of Rugby League and we always watched the floodlit game shown during the week, so we knew a lot of the teams and players well. Poor old Don Fox - it's sad when a fine sportsman's reputation is soured by one mistake. Think of Peter Bonetti or Bernhard Langer.

Thanks a lot for reminding me of those times.

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John Coopey

Mon 9th Jan 2023 11:20

Thanks Ian. I think Poynton dodged a bullet. If he hadn’t given that penalty away at the death Fox’s miss might not have mattered.
Then again, there’d have been no restart for Hirst to score.
What if?
What if?
It is certainly among the top 10 sporting memories of my youth.

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Ian Whiteley

Mon 9th Jan 2023 10:11

brilliant stuff John - captures those moments perfectly. we were definitely robbed on that penalty try though - don't think there's ever been another one in the final and it would have meant the missed conversion didn't matter. "He's a poor lad". 😞

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