IT was billed as a celebration of rugby league in Warrington and that is what we got.

Twenty years ago today, grassroots heroes such as Steve Martin squared up to rugby league royalty like Allan Langer as Warrington Wolves faced one of the town’s amateur sides in the Challenge Cup fourth round.

Woolston Rovers did themselves justice in a 48-6 loss to the full-time Super League professionals who handed debuts to Langer’s former Brisbane Broncos half-back partner Kevin Walters as well as fellow NRL talent David Kidwell, Martin Masella and Steve Georgallis.Warrington Guardian:

Wire debutant Kevin Walters grounds Rovers full-back Mark Wallington as Dean Busby and Pete Livett - father of former Wire utility Harvey Livett - watch over proceedings. Picture: Eddie Whitham

Rovers’ club officials consider it the club’s proudest day.

Nothing will ever take away Martin’s memory of touching down in front of Wilderspool’s Fletcher Street end and being greeted with the biggest cheer of the afternoon.

Lifelong Wire fan Martin’s moment of glory came in the 37th minute of Woolston’s fairytale tie.

Martin, Woolston's captain, said at the time: “It is hard to describe – it was absolutely brilliant.

“I don’t remember a lot about it, I just recall getting the ball and there didn’t seem to be anything on so I dabbed it over the line and the gap opened up so I dived on the ball.

“The cheer went up and it was a great feeling. I dreamed about it all week and on the day I kept thinking I can score here.

“I thought they might be a bit susceptible to the chip which we’d been practising all week.”


Martin left the field with a rib injury.

He said: “The reception when I went off was absolutely brilliant and something that I will remember for a long time.

“I have won a lot with Woolston but as a one-off game it was one of my best experiences.”

The way that Woolston played exceeded the captain’s expectations.

He confirmed: “The lads put in a tremendous effort, in defence in particular. They were playing against guys who train full time whereas we are all lads who train three or four nights at the most.

“Warrington went a long time without scoring and for a Super League side against an amateur team that is outstanding.

“The guys lifted their performance to their surroundings and hearing the crowd chant Woolston at the end was amazing.”

Warrington Guardian:

The Woolston players on their lap of honour after the final hooter at Wilderspool, having reached the fourth round of the Challenge Cup to face top-flight professional opponents. Picture: Eddie Whitham

Wolves’ tries were scored by Ian Sibbit, three; Ian Knott, Jamie Stenhouse, Tawera Nikau, Walters, Kidwell, Noone.

Wire: Lee Penny; Rob Smyth, Ian Sibbit, David Kidwell, Jamie Stenhouse; Kevin Walters, Allan Langer; Martin Masella, Steve Georgallis, Danny Nutley, Ian Knott, Dean Busby, Tawera Nikau. Subs: Dave Alstead, Jerome Guisset, Paul Wood, Paul Noone.

Rovers: Mark Wallington; Mark Cosgrove, Pete Livett, Darren Geritas, Mark Moran; Nigel Quarmby, Steve Martin; Mark Shephard, Drew Povey, Lee Westwood, Graham Muckalt, Shaun Geritas, Danny Heaton. Subs: Paul Fiddler, Dave Kelly, Phil Dermott, Mark Pendleton.

This is how Warrington Guardian reported the tie at the time:

Warrington Wolves...48 Woolston Rovers...6

DESPITE Warrington progressing to the fifth round of the Silk Cut Challenge Cup Woolston Rovers should be the most contented side with their performance.

To keep Warrington to 48-6, 12 of those coming in the last three minutes, amateurs Woolston can be proud of their efforts.

New signings Kevin Walters and David Kidwell scored on their debuts. Compare this in the light of Leeds Rhinos’ 106-10 defeat of NFP side Swinton.

There was never any doubt as to who would be victorious in this first all-Warrington ‘derby’ for 48 years but if Rovers substitute Phil Dermott had managed to keep hold of the ball as he went over the try line in the 52nd minute the score could have been 24-12 at that stage.

Warrington Guardian:

It takes two Australian rugby league superstars, Allan Langer and Kevin Walters, to take down Woolston's Mark Moran. Picture: Eddie Whitham

As it was, Wolves used the wide channels to break Woolston’s defence and after establishing a 20-0 lead in 23 minutes thanks to an Ian Sibbit hat-trick, the Wolves let their foot off the pedal until the last 20 minutes when they ran in four tries to widen the margin.

For Warrington it was not the new signings who caught the eye.

In Sibbit’s first game back after an operation on his bust shoulder he looked extremely quick off the mark and once he saw daylight was deadly.

Winger Jamie Stenhouse was also lively and made numerous good yards.

Dean Busby, returning to the side after an impressive World Cup, had his best game in a Warrington shirt for some time.

In terms of the new guys, Kevin Walters did not link up with skipper Alfie Langer as much as might have been expected but on the one notable occasion that he did he came up with a try.

David Kidwell showed his keenness to keep the ball alive, if at times over-zealous to off load. He put some good balls out to his winger Stenhouse and looked to have established a good understanding but at times needed to come from deep and at more pace on to the ball.

Steve Georgallis and Martin Masella were both solid if not outstanding. Georgallis looked competent to take up the hooking role and was quick around the ruck and Masella made one good bust.

Warrington Guardian:

No way through for debut Wire hooker Steve Georgallis. Picture: Eddie Whitham

For Rovers the forwards should take a lot of credit for not allowing Warrington any tries through the middle.

Shaun Geritas and Graham Muckalt never took a backwards step and went hit for hit with the Warrington pack.

But Rovers man of the match was captain Steve Martin. Martin’s kicks were tactical and put Wolves on the back foot on numerous occasions.

His superb performance was rewarded with a try although it ended slightly disappointingly when he was forced to retire with a rib injury.

Sibbit scored the first of his three tries in the fifth minute when he came flying on to a long ball by Tawera Nikau.

Warrington Guardian:

Tawera Nikau and Paul Noone halt Woolston winger Mark Cosgrove's progress. Picture: Eddie Whitham

Sibbit’s next two came in similar fashion and he also set up a try in between for Ian Knott.

Three minutes before the break came the moment that brought a huge cheer from the Fletcher Street crowd.

Darren Geritas managed to squeeze the ball out of a tackle from three men, Martin scooped up the loose ball and put a short grubber through from five metres out and was nippiest to touch down over the whitewash. He also converted to complete Rovers’ points scoring for the game.

Warrington Guardian:

Danny Heaton, Mark Shephard, Drew Povey and a fourth Rovers defender ensure Australian prop Danny Nutley's run goes no further. Picture: Eddie Whitham

Prop Mark Shephard was within inches of adding to the six points for Rovers in similar fashion to Martin two minutes into the new half but substitute David Alstead narrowly beat him to the loose ball.

On 48 minutes Stenhouse finished a move created by a good pass from Busby.

Dermott should have scored for Rovers four minutes later after scooting over from dummy half past sloppy Wolves defending but lost control of the ball over the line.

Nikau, who was involved in a lot of passing moves for Warrington, then scored on 62 minutes from first receiver.

Walters showed good understanding with his old pal Langer three minutes later when he appeared on the captain’s shoulder to take an inside ball and fly in from 10 metres out.

Warrington Guardian:

Martin Masella and Pete Livett look for the referee's call. Picture: Eddie Whitham

With two minutes remaining Kidwell became the second Wolves player in succession to score on his debut when he demonstrated his strength to carry three tacklers over the line.

Paul Noone completed the scoring after Sibbit had yet again broke the defence with ease.

Rob Smyth knocked over the conversion for a success rate of six from eight attempts.