Rugby League: The Wembley milestone men

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The Independent Online
SYD ABRAM: THE FIRST TRY-SCORER

Amid arguments over whether taking the Challenge Cup final to Wembley was a good idea at all, the Wigan stand-off carved himself a permanent niche in the history of the game by scoring the first try as Dewsbury were beaten 13-2 in 1929. Their third came from Roy Kinnear, father of the comedian.

GUS RISMAN: THE ULTIMATE SURVIVOR

One of the game's greatest players, Risman had captained Salford in the 1938 and 1939 finals. He was 41 - even older than Daryl Powell - when he went back to lead Workington Town, one of the League's newer clubs, to victory over Featherstone Rovers in 1952.

MIKE SMITH: THE FINAL DEBUTANT

The patron saint of all those players who have long and distinguished careers without ever playing at Wembley, Smith made his first-team debut in the final for an injury-hit Hull in 1960 - something that makes London's Dominic Peters look like a seasoned veteran. Hull lost 38-5 to Wakefield.

DON FOX: THE HIT AND MISS MAN

All right, let's remind him about it again. The Wakefield prop - already voted man of the match - missed the simple kick that would have given Trinity a last-gasp victory over Leeds in 1968, thus inspiring Eddie Waring's "poor lad" and a young David Coleman's worst-timed interview.

SYD HYNES: THE FIRST EARLY BATH

The Leeds centre became the first man to be sent off in a Challenge Cup final at Wembley in 1971. Leigh went on to clinch one of the biggest upsets at the stadium, but the extent of the damage to Hynes' victim as he was carried off remains a matter of debate. Which leads us to...

ALEX MURPHY: THE GREATEST

Arguably Britain's greatest player, he was a winner with St Helens in 1961 and 1966 and, as player-coach, with Leigh and Warrington. His visits as non-playing coach were less successful, losing with Warrington, Wigan and Saints twice, but the place still looks incomplete without him.

BRETT KENNY AND PETER STERLING: ENTWINED

Team-mates for Parramatta and Australia, opponents for Wigan and Hull in what remains perhaps the best final of all in 1985, the two are bracketed together in Wembley folklore. The majestic Kenny won both Cup and Lance Todd Trophy, but Sterling rates it as his greatest experience.

SHAUN EDWARDS: FINAL SHOWDOWN

Lost in 1984 and wondered whether he would ever be back, but managed to pick up nine winners' medals with Wigan by way of consolation. The question this year is whether the Broncos man can do it with a broken thumb.

ROBBIE PAUL: THE SPECTACULAR LOSER

The Bradford scrum-half became the first player to score a hat-trick of tries in a Wembley final in 1996, but he could do nothing about the most spectacular fightback in Cup history as St Helens came back from 14 points down to win 40-32.

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