Warrington Past Players' Association secretary Stan Lewandowski shares his memories of the night The Wire tamed the mighty Kangaroos against all odds at Wilderspool Stadium

PERHAPS Wolves' Grand Final hopefuls can take some inspiration from Wire of old as they bid to win Saturday's Grand Final at Old Trafford.

It was exactly 40 years ago today, Thursday, that mighty Australia were dumped 15-12 by Warrington at Wilderspool Stadium.

The green and golds came to Warrington intent on keeping to their promise that they would go through their tour unbeaten.

Someone had forgotten to tell the boys in primrose and blue.

It was to become a night of all nights at Wilderspool, home of The Wire until the end of 2003.

The Aussies were overloaded with class in their ranks.


How the then Warrington Guardian sports editor John Dickens reported Wire's win against Australia in 1978, when national team tours still included matches against club sides

Max Krilich, Craig Young and Rod Reddy were powerhouse forwards in their ranks, while slick Test backs Steve Rogers and Kerry Boustead were complemented by former Wire hero and captain Bobby Fulton.

Opposite them stood a hotch-potch of a Warrington side.

Sitting out the game due to 'rules' of the time were internationals John Bevan and Ken Kelly, while mercurial scrum half Parry Gordon had not fully recovered from an ankle injury.

Up stepped Mike Kelly and fellow winger Joe Walsh (recently signed), both to make their first full appearances of the season.

Ronnie Clark was to become a makeshift stand-off and ace forward Tommy Martyn was to play despite a nagging knee injury.

Mike Nicholas turned up to watch, having just had the plaster removed earlier in the day from a broken thumb that had put him on the sidelines for five weeks, but half an hour before kick-off coach Billy Benyon asked him to play and boy did he oblige.


Skippers Bobby Fulton, left, and Billy Benyon, who was Wire's player-coach, at the coin toss before kick off. Picture: Eddie Whitham

Although the Kangaroos took an early 10-2 lead, they knew they were in the middle of a battle-royal being played before a vociferous packed house.

Some of the tackling would be deemed reckless in today's game, with the action certainly explosive.

Surprise-choice forward Nicholas and the steely packmen around him got stuck in and unsettled the tourists.

Some immaculate kicking from top marksman Steve Hesford reduced the lead to just four points at the change of ends.

As the second half developed it was clear the visitors were rattled and the crowd, sensing an upset, lifted to another level as they got behind the lads.

Mistakes began to show as the Aussies forgot about their pace and silky handling, playing it down the middle and into Warrington's hands.

The place went mad as Hesford banged over a superb 40-yard penalty to make it 10-12.

Something had to crack and it did.

Full-back Alan McMahon was sensationally sent off for sinking his teeth into Warrington's Billy Benyon.

With just 10 minutes to go Clarke made the most decisive break of the game before being tackled deep into the Aussie quarter.

With the tourists in disarray, his half-back partner Alan Gwilliam seized the chance and chipped the ball over the defence.

He made a desperate lunge for the ball as he was submerged by defenders.

Referee Joe Jackson pointed to the spot and Wilderspool went crazy, with the win in the bag.

The Australians were so shocked and stunned that they left the field without a handshake for the victors.

For Warrington, it had been a triumph of guts and determination.

* Leave your memories of the match here, using the comment link