TODAY marks the 37th anniversary of what was a landmark trophy win in Saints’ history.

On Sunday, October 28, 1984 Billy Benyon’s side strode into the lion’s den at Central Park to end a seven-year trophy drought with a 26-18 Lancashire Cup Final win over Wigan.

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The day stayed etched on the memories of that generation of Saints fans much longer than the Mal Meninga handprint left on the makeshift full back Shaun Edwards as the giant Kangaroos centre stormed down the Popular Side towards the Kop for one of his brace of scores that afternoon.

Big Mal had been signed up for a guest spell, and since his and compatriot Phil Veivers’ debuts earlier that month Saints had been transformed.

The pair were the catalyst Saints’ largely homegrown side needed to transform them from talented and game nearly men to trophy winners.


The team, led by Harry Pinner, had bounced through October with the likes of Barry Ledger, Neil Holding, Chris Arkwright and Andy Platt to the fore.

But it was the arrival of Big Mal that had stirred the interest – with a buzz rippling through Wigan supplied by wing John Ferguson with Brett Kenny yet to arrive.

That fervour and anticipation meant that they had to ditch the plans to host at the 14,000-capacity Wilderspool. Saints lost the toss for venue and colours – but they won the one that mattered.

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It was a good job they had the foresight to ditch the neutral venue – despite the drizzle – a bumper 26,000 crowd filed into the nooks and crannies of the cavernous Central Park.

Meninga stamped his authority on to the game early on, scoring two and creating one for wing partner Sean Day with a series of barnstorming runs down the left.

Wigan had no answer, and when they did haul him down, the brains trust in the Saints attack found ways of exploiting the gaps elsewhere.

Roy Haggerty, on for early concussion victim Veivers, scattered the Cherry and White defence with a trademark Haggy shuffle for another try and Saints went in at the break with one hand on that fine, ornate piece of silverware.

Then, as now, it is never easy on the Saints rollercoaster with Wigan mounting a ferocious second half fightback, roared on by the hordes. Graeme West, Henderson Gill and Nicky Kiss all sneaked over for scrappy tries and suddenly it was game on.

The elusive Gill looked as though he was over again, but a tremendous defensive effort held him up and he was carried off on a stretcher following the crunching tackle.

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Saints’ only score of the second half was a settling penalty from Sean Day, whose nerveless goalkicking in the cauldron-like atmosphere had been a strong feature of the win.

Socks rolled down, the 21-year-old former Culcheth Eagles wing nonchalantly chipped the two-pointers over.

Day had joined after playing as an AN Other triallist at the season's start - rocking up at the first Queens Park training session in an anti-fox hunting T-shirt, but what a year he would have playing outside Big Mal.

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It was tough and tense afternoon on the banks of the Douglas, as Wigan poured forward – but the line remained intact to secure Saints' first pot since May 1977.

Meninga's towering understandably and justifiably grabbed the headlines – but it was a team effort.

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Whether that was skipper Pinner spraying passes for the pair of strong-running 21 year old second rowers Platt and Paul Round to run on to, Holding and Graham Liptrot prising openings or props Tony Burke and Peter Gorley doing the tough stuff.

It was a real mixture of experience and youth from 19-year-old Shaun Allen in the centres to veteran prop Gorley 13 years his senior.

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And credit coach Benyon, too, who liked his teams to play football and what they saw – but had too often seen his men fall at the crunch stage.

But not this time – the cobwebs were blown out of the Knowsley Road trophy cabinet and the Saints were back and how the team and town celebrated.

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Saints: Veivers; Ledger, Allen, Meninga, Day; Arkwright, Holding; Burke, Liptrot, Gorley, Platt, Round, Pinner; Subs: Smith, Haggerty.

Tries: Meninga 2, Day, Haggerty.

Goals: Day 5.

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