IT was 65 years ago, today, that The Wire celebrated arguably their finest hour.

Winning a league title is tough enough, but to retain it is something very special indeed.

And that’s what Cec Mountford’s men did on May 14, 1955, when they beat Oldham in the Championship Final at Manchester City’s former Maine Road home.

Warrington Guardian:

Wire celebrating the 1955 Championship success at Maine Road. From left to right, are Danny Naughton, Len Horton, Tom McKinney, Gerry Helme, Bob Ryan, Eric Frodsham, Syd Phillips, Harry Bath, Jim Honey, Jim Challinor, Brian Bevan, Gerry Lowe

It was the third and final time Warrington have been crowned champions, and the only time they did so having also finished top of the table at the end of the league campaign, edging out Oldham on points difference.

Heroes of the era like Harry Bath and Brian Bevan remain household names, not only in this town but in their Australia homeland too.

The Wire became champions for the first time 72 years ago.

In those days, like now, a play-offs system resulted in determining the champions, rather than the title going to the team that finished top of the table.

On May 8, 1948, The Wire overhauled Bradford Northern 15-5 at Maine Road in Manchester.

Warrington Guardian:

In Chris Brockbank’s 12th year as manager, skipper Palin received the trophy off Lord Derby and lifted it for his hometown club in front of 69,143 spectators.

That day, Bevan scored a record-breaking 57th try in a season while Stan Powell and Albert Pimblett also crossed the whitewash, with Palin kicking three goals.

Warrington Guardian:

The 1948 Championship Final winning team above and below.

Back row, from left, Brian Bevan, Bryn Knowelden, Bill Riley, Dave Cotton, Bill Darbyshire, Albert Pimblett. Middle row, Stan Powell, Les Jones, Harold Palin, Bob Ryan, Jim Featherstone. Front, Jack Fleming, Gerry Helme

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington, who had finished second to Wigan in the table, knocked out Huddersfield 17-5 in the semi finals.

That was the first of five Championship finals in eight years, two more of which were to be celebrated as victories in what was a golden era and included the club’s first Wembley Challenge Cup triumph – 19-0 against Widnes in 1950.

Warrington won the title again after locking horns with Halifax in the 1954 Championship Final, just three days after their never-to-be forgotten Challenge Cup Final replay at Odsal in front of a world record crowd.

Again at Maine Road, this time attended by 36,519, four penalty goals from Bath defeated the Yorkshire outfit 8-7 on May 8.

Just like at Odsal, deputising captain Eric Frodsham lifted the trophy, due to Albert Naughton being sidelined for the last five games of the season with a calf injury.

That was Warrington’s only league and Challenge Cup double to date - and they won the Lancashire League that season too for a smashing treble!

Warrington Guardian: The team with the trophies in 1954

Warrington Guardian: The homecoming in 1954

The homecoming after the 1953/54 league and cup double

The Wire had finished second to Fax in the table while they accounted for St Helens 11-0 in the play-off semi finals.

The Wire then made it back-to-back league titles in the 1954-55 campaign, with Ally Naughton this time being on the field to share in the glory of it all.

In fact, Naughton had scored two of the tries in the 17-9 win against Halifax to reach the final, with Syd Phillips getting the other.

In almost monsoon conditions, The Wire were marvellous in the mud as Oldham were marooned 7-3.

Bevan’s 61st try of the season and two Bath penalty goals steered the ship home in front of 49,434 spectators.

Of course, it takes the efforts of a full season to be able to go on and win a Championship Final - or a Grand Final as it is now.

Twenty-five players contributed to the 31 wins and two draws achieved from the 40 matches played in all competitions during the 1954-55 season.

Frodsham was the only man to play in every game that season, though Gerry Lowe (38), Bevan (37), Albert Naughton (36), Bath (35), Jim Challinor (33), Danny Naughton (33) and Gerry Helme (30) were prominent throughout.

Only two other players joined Bevan in reaching double-figures in the try-scoring. They were Ally Naughton (26) and Challinor (19).

Bath was The Wire's main goal-kicker, banging over 118 that season. Frodsham chipped in with 10 and Austin Heathwood just the one.

Barrow, Halifax, Widnes, Bradford, Leigh and Wigan (twice) were the only sides that managed to topple the champions elect in one competition or another.

Championship winning Wire teams:

1948: Les Jones; Brian Bevan, Albert Pimblett, Bryn Knowelden, Stan Powell; Jack Fleming, Gerry Helme; Bill Derbyshire, Dave Cotton, Bill Riley, Jim Featherstone, Bob Ryan, Harold Palin.

1954: Eric Frodsham; Brian Bevan, Jim Challinor, Ron Ryder, Stan McCormick; Ray Price, Gerry Helme; Danny Naughton, Frank Wright, Gerry Lowe, Harry Bath, Bob Ryan.

1955: Eric Frodsham; Brian Bevan, Jim Challinor, Albert Naughton, Len Horton; Jim Honey, Gerry Helme; Danny Naughton, Tom McKinney, Gerry Lowe, Harry Bath, Syd Phillips, Bob Ryan.

Note that Bevan, Helme and Ryan played in all three Championship winning teams.

Warrington Guardian:

Brian Bevan

Warrington Guardian: Gerry Helme

Gerry Helme

Warrington Guardian:

Bob Ryan

Sadly, all 13 members of the Wire side that won the Championship Final in 1955 have since died but we salute each and every one of them as Wire heroes.