General Challenge Cup 2018

Some of the big boys enter this weekend;

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In the days of winter rugby, the challenge cup final was the first or second week in May. It is 50 years since the most dramatic final ever played, the match known as the water splash final because of the heavy rainstorm during the game. The ending of the game is probably the most dramatic ending to any sporting event. BBC have done a documentary and if anyone can access this from NZ I'd recommend you watch it, it's excellent. Taster here:

Highlights of the final are here:
The Hull v St Helens game on Sunday was as good a game as you'll see. Hull had three men binned during the game and were down to eleven for the spell before half time. They hung on and could still have won, the penultimate play of the game they went around 50m with some miracle passes, unfortunately made a mess of the subsequent play the ball just as the hooter went.

For the first time, the semi finals are back to back at the same stadium in Bolton


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New stadium nowadays. The old Wembley was pretty decrepit by the 80's never mind when you went, you certainly knew where the bogs were.
I might go this year, my daughter lives in London now so easy to get the missus to go there for a shopping trip

When your benchmark was Carlaw Park, Wembley was pretty special.
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I only went to the old Wembley once.

Let's hear it for the Wembley Lions

Charlie Whelan

Sun 28 Mar 1999 19.25 BST First published on Sun 28 Mar 1999 19.25 BST

This article is over 19 years old

The League Cup is affectionately called the Mickey Mouse Cup, so what on earth do we call the Auto Windscreens Shield? Down in South London, the local paper, the South London Press ,just refers to it as the AWS game, but that has not prevented them from giving over acres of space to the build-up to the match. The reason, of course, is that one of the finalists are Millwall who will be going to Wembley for the first time ever to play Wigan on Sunday, 18 April. The New Den is the nearest football ground to my home, just a 15-minute walk in fact, and already the atmosphere is building up in the local pubs, even though the big game is three weeks away. The nicest thing about living near Millwall is that there aren't hundreds of kids walking about in Man U shirts - it's Millwall or nothing.

I remember the first time I ever went to see Millwall play when I was a kid. By then I was a confirmed Spurs fan, but whenever Spurs were away we used to go to watch other London teams - well some London teams, never Arsenal. The experience is one that I will never forget. At Spurs you only sang and chanted from the Park Lane end, here at Millwall every one sang and chanted, and not just kids but grown men too. The ref made a bad decision and the whole crowd chanted abuse. This place was not like any other football ground I had ever been to, these fans had a passion for their team that I had never experienced before. I've had a sneaking admiration for them ever since. When years later I came to work in Peckham for the Engineering and Electricians Union, most of the staff were Millwall fans and when they came to build the New Den it was the Engineering and Electricians Union members who put up the stadium.

I was there for the opening of the New Den with my boss, the general secretary of the union, Gavin Laird. And just to complete the links with the Labour movement, the ground was opened by the late John Smith, leader of the Labour Party.

In fact, the only famous Millwall fan I know of, apart from Danny Baker, is Defence Minister John Spellar, an MP who was sponsored by my old union. Now, for the first time in their history, Millwall are going to Wembley. The visit during the war does not count as Millwall had Charlton players in the team. Never mind that this is just the AWS, the game is at Wembley and that is what counts just as it did for Spurs last week. The match will probably be a sell-out. Millwall asked for 45,000 tickets and have been allocated 41,000; Wigan have asked for 20,000.

Fans of the bigger clubs may scoff at such minor competitions, but for Millwall, going to Wembley is the best thing, apart from promotion to the First Division, that has ever happened to them. Cup fever - well Shield fever - is beginning to hit South London.

At the match with Wrexham, the cup programme was a 68-page Wembley special costing £3 (Millwall Football Club can rip off the fans with the best of them). The club are also planning to release an hour-long video, The Road to Wembley ,with action from all the AWS games.

And yes, you've guessed it, the Millwall players have recorded a special Wembley song. Actually it is four songs and they have been recorded on a CD.

The disc was recorded in Bromley last week and the main song is a reggae version of the club song Let 'em come! Presumably they have gone for the reggae to encourage their campaign against racism. We will be able to see just how many black fans Millwall have in the South London Press Auto Windscreens Shield special supplement. In it you can have your own personalised greeting with a passport style photo for just £10.

A trip to Wembley wouldn't be complete without the corporate package. The best one offered is the official club one. The package includes coach travel to and from the Den, a three-course luncheon, cash bar, guest speakers, commemorative gift, match ticket, programme and the use of a post-match bar with the players in attendance - all for only £150.

Somehow, I think it will be much more fun to meet up in The Charlie Chaplin at the Elephant, have a good drink and travel on the Tube singing 'No one likes us, we don't care' all the way to Wembley. As for those softies who may wish to be out of town that day, I personally would not miss it for the world, and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson can come with me if she wants - although she strikes me as more of a Fulham fan than Millwall.

Just think what it will be like to be able to say to your sons and daughters when they grow up: 'I was there at the last ever Wembley Auto Windscreens Shield Final.'

Come to think of it, they could get the Millwall fans to knock Wembley down for them and save all that money on the demolition costs. Then again, if Millwall lose they probably will do just that.

We lost, of course.