TODAY marks the 30th anniversary of one of the darkest days in Saints’ history – the 27-0 defeat by Wigan beneath the old Twin Towers.

BACK in the spring of 1989, it seemed that everyone wanted to see champions Widnes – featuring Martin Offiah, Jonathan Davies, Alan Tait, Kurt Sorenson et al – lock horns with top dogs Wigan at Wembley.

But Cumbrian wing Les Quirk had other ideas, plunging over in the River Douglas corner late in the semi final to scupper the rugby league world’s hopes of the dream final.

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But Saints fans were not bothered – scenes of wild jubilation erupted across the red and white parts of Central Park, as Que Sera! Sera! was bellowed out in triumph.

Saints’ largely homespun team – by then missing the departed Australians Paul Vautin and Michael O’Connor - had pulled off a massive shock. But the rugby league gods were not happy….as we would soon find out.

Now in some strands of Puritanism there is a belief that the amount of pleasure derived is ultimately balanced out by an equal amount of pain. But even for all the celebration, shuffling out of Central Park that day and in the six-week build up to Wembley, there seemed to be a disproportionate level of punishment doled out on April 29, 1989.

Admittedly, some of it was self-inflicted.

The bitter taste of Wembley had lingered on the Saints palate for the two years after that shock one-point defeat by Halifax in 87.

Now here was a surprise opportunity for Alex Murphy’s to regain his Wembley Midas touch after a run of three losses as coach, the others at Warrington and Wigan.

Maybe a touch of false optimism had developed, with Saints beating Wigan 4-2 at Central Park in the first round of the Premiership Trophy the week before.

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But strategy wise Saints bungled it, opting to fly Vautin and O’Connor back from Australia, purely for the final – a real kick in the teeth for Dave Tanner and especially big John Harrison who had helped them get there.

Vautin was made skipper – another big call given that the guest player was never going to don the red vee again.

The banter was good en route to Wembley, with finals back then having a more partisan feel, with Wigan taking about 30,000 plus down while more than 20,000 travelled down from St Helens in a sell out 78,000 crowd.

But once we had the community singing, Abide with Me and the minute’s silence for the Hillsborough victims and the bandsmen left the pitch the mismatch commenced.

It was like seeing a daddy long legs get caught up in a web – within seconds the spider was out, ruthlessly devouring the body of the hapless creature, leaving just the thin spindly legs as remnants of a life that was once there.

Young Gary Connolly, the 17-year-old Saints full back, was the first victim, getting clobbered from the kick off, knocking on and just three minutes in Ellery Hanley brushed off Roy Haggerty’s tackle to send Kevin Iro over.

Hanley’s rampaging tackle-busting run from half way doubled that lead, and an Andy Gregory drop goal and another Iro try five minutes into the second half wrapped it up.

Tries from Gregory and Steve Hampson added insult to injury, with Saints failed to trouble the scorers – the first time this had happened at a Wembley final since Barrow lost 10-0 to Wigan in 1951.

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The clinical nature of the Wigan operation was in stark contrast to Saints’ ramshackle effort. Saints missed countless tackles, dropped the ball 27 times and lacked a coherent gameplan.

This would be the second Wembley win in a row for the Cherry and Whites – and they would go on and win the next six too. They looked unstoppable – ready to go on and on.

There just did not seem to be a way of beating Wigan - with all the means they had at their disposal.

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The defeat cast a dark cloud over Saints that took some shifting. The response of the board was to put 13 players on the list, but there would be no wholesale clear-out – just Darren Bloor moving on to Swinton and Jonathan Griffiths coming in.

Barely into 1990 Murphy was shown the door. It was harsh to put the blame purely at Murphy's door – he had been given the unenviable task of competing with full time Wigan team, prepared to splash the cash and bring in the best players money could buy.

They were dark days, but slowly but surely during the 90s Saints did begin to chip away, rebuild.....and our time would come again.