KEVIN Ashcroft certainly knew how to get the best out of his giant Wire forward Bob Eccles.

The front or second rower scored a staggering 37 tries in Ashcroft's first full season in charge 1982/83.

His 22 tries in the Slalom Lager Championship were a league record for a forward and he equalled the John Player Trophy record of scoring five tries in one match at home to Blackpool Borough.

He had a trademark touch down style throughout this campaign. Eccles scored many tries from short range by using his skipper Ken Kelly as a dummy acting half back who would roll the ball through his legs, dart off one way, and then allowing Eccles to go the opposite way.

Eccles, during a run of scoring tries in nine successive games, was called into the Great Britain squad for his first and only Test appearance against the all conquering Australian tourists 15 games played, 15 games won.

This was the realisation year. The Aussie game had jumped light years ahead of its British counterpart and there was a lot of catching up work to be done.

Many changes followed. Some of the Aussie stars joined English clubs as trading restrictions were lifted in time for 1983/84, the term in which Peter Higham took over from Brian Pitchford as the new club chairman.

While Warrington stuck to Kiwi Roby Muller and Maori man-mountain Pat Poasa, Hull Kingston Rovers snapped up Illawarra stand off and captain John Dorahy with neighbours Hull swooping for Peter Sterling and audacious Wakefield Trinity landing Kangaroo Test star Wally Lewis in a 10-match deal.

And as well as this campaign signalling the start of four-point tries, it also brought the handover rule for players being caught in possession on the sixth tackle.

Ashcroft's boys, wearing jerseys sponsored for the first time, took third spot in the league but were disappointing in the knockouts.

Wire's name appeared to be on the Lancashire Cup after a sensational second round success at St. Helens. Wire had three men sent off and St. Helens two after a 20th minute brawl.

Later, referee Stan Wall sent two Wire players to the sin bin and so for 20 minutes of the game they played with nine men against 11. Twice Warrington scored tries with only nine men on the field and recorded a thrilling 30-26 victory. All that effort was in vain when Wire lost at home to Barrow in the semi-finals.

Incidentally, Wire were fined £1,000 for the brawl at St. Helens, who were hit for £500.

Wire's classy centre Ronnie Rhino' Duane toured with Great Britain Down Under and it lasted just nine minutes of the opening game against Northern Territory due to a serious knee injury.

Wire supporters were surprised when Warrington and Ashcroft parted company in May, 1984, despite the former Wire hooker still having two years of his contract to run.

The man who took over was ex-Widnes scrum half Reg Bowden, Wire's third new coach in six years.

Bowden's two-year spell at the helm was more notable for some of his signings, rather than success on the field.

He splashed out a world record fee for Great Britain and Widnes scrum half Andy Gregory, a deal which included part exchange for John Fieldhouse. He brought 'unknown' Bob Jackson from his former club Fulham.

And then in October 1985 Bowden shocked the whole of the Rugby League world by signing Les Boyd at the end of his long term suspension for alleged 'gouging'.

A week after the Kangaroo Test prop made his Wire debut, an Australian full back joined Warrington's ranks the relatively unknown but none-the-less exciting Brian Johnson!

And both played a week later as Warrington lost the Lancashire cup final by the record defeat of 34-8 against Wigan at Knowsley Road.

Money had been spent but the rewards had not followed. Bowden resigned and loyal assistant coach Tony Barrow took over the reins in a caretaker role in March 1986.

Success soon followed. Victories at home against Widnes and away to Wigan put Wire in the final of the Premiership Trophy against champions Halifax at Elland Road, Leeds.

Fax did not know what had hit them as Barrow's boys ripped them to shreds to win 38-10. Many fans regarded this as Wire's greatest knockout final victory.

The team on that glorious day was: Paul Ford, Mark Forster, Paul Cullen, Ronnie Duane, Brian Crabert, Paul Bishop, Andy Gregory, Les Boyd, Kevin Tamati, Bob Jackson, Gary Sanderson, Mark Roberts, Mike Gregory. Subs: Brian Johnson, Billy McGinty.