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The Captain Morgan Trophy

The early 1970ís saw the introduction of sponsorship in rugby league.  In 1973/4 The House of Seagram became sponsors for the first time with the introduction of the Captain Morgan Trophy competition.  They were using this competition to promote their Captain Morgan Rum.

 He eight first round winners from the Yorkshire Cup and the seven first round winners from the Lancashire Cup qualified to compete in the first round of the Captain Morgan Trophy.  They were joined by Widnes who had lost by the smallest margin in the Lancashire Cup first round.  This first round draw kept the Yorkshire sides against each other and those from the west of the Pennines together.

Warrington were drawn away to Wigan in the first round for a match that produced no tries.  Warrington won 12-4, by virtue of five goals from Derek Whitehead and a drop goal from Alex Murphy.  In the second round at Wilderspool Warrington defeated Castleford 15-7.  Tommy Conroy, Brian Brady and Dave Cunliffe scored tries, with Whitehead kicking 3 goals.  In the semi-final Warrington had a tremendous 20-13 win a highflying Leeds.  Kevin Ashcroft and Parry Gordon were the try scorers, Whitehead kicked 5 goals, Ashcroft and Murphy both drop goals.

In the final Warrington met Featherstone Rovers at the Willows on 26 January 1974, before a crowd of 5,259.  The match was a dour, tryless final with plenty of endeavour but very little ingenuity.  Defences were on top and both sides resorted to the short kick without success.  Derek Whitehead kicked to penalty goals in the first half to give Warrington a 4-0 lead.  There were notable performances by Bobby Wanbon for Warrington and John Bridges the Featherstone hooker.  Warrington still won despite missing their player coach Alex Murphy.

Derek Whitehead was the winner of the man of the match award and was presented with an 80oz magnum bottle of Captain Morgan Rum.  No doubt keeping him warm during the cold winter months.  The Warrington Team was Derek Whitehead, Mick Philbin, Derek Noonan, Frank Reynolds, John Bevan, Alan Whittle, Parry Gordon, Dave Chisnall, Kevin Ashcroft, Brian Brady, Bobby Wanbon, David Wright, Ian Mather, substitutes were Billy Pickup (not used) and Joe Price.

Warrington and Featherstone Rovers were to meet in a second final in the 1973/4 season, this time at Wembley for the Challenge Cup, and once again Warrington ran out winners, this time 24-9.

In May it was announced that the Captain Morgan Trophy competition would be scrapped after only one season, with Warrington as the only winners.

Pictures

1.   1974 team with the Captain Morgan Trophy

2.    The Captain Morgan Trophy

3.    Derek Whitehead






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