'Liam Farrell's try was the greatest Good Friday moment' - the 18th Man column

Our 18th man columnists pick their Good Friday highlights and name the Saints star they'd love to see play at Wigan...

Friday, 10th April 2020, 8:42 am
Updated Friday, 10th April 2020, 8:44 am
Liam Farrell goes over for the match-winner in 2011

What is your stand-out favourite Good Friday derby moment?

Sean Lawless: In terms of favourite Good Friday moment, there are so many to pick from and with the last season as an exception, we have plenty of great moments recently.

The Liam Farrell try has got to be up there but for me, Iafeta Paleaaesina’s try at Knowsley Road – in the final derby there – will always be my favourite.

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Not only was it a big moment in the history of Knowsley Road, it signified that Wigan were back and, under Michael Maguire, we were going to challenge.

Having been at the semi-final at Knowsley Road the season before, in Brian Noble’s final game in charge, this game and perhaps that try, sent a message to the rest of Super League.

Jess Foxley: Well, over the years we have been extremely lucky to have seen some incredible Good Friday moments, but my absolute stand-out favourite has got to be the Ginger Pearl scoring in the dying seconds of the game on Good Friday 2011!

I still get goosebumps when I watch it now.

The sheer joy on the faces of Maguire and Wane was utterly brilliant.

I will NEVER forget that game for as long as I live.

Robert Kenyon: If it’s one individual moment, it’s got to be Paul Deacon hitting Farrell, who was running a beautiful line, to crash over and win the game back in 2011.

In the dying moments we snatched the game away from Saints which was superb.

Another stand-out moment has to be the brawl in 2004, that was another good derby. I used to love going to Knowley Road on Good Friday, it always seemed to be raining when we played there on Good Friday and sunny in Wigan, what does that tell you?

Another mention has to go to the 2003 side that had all the young lads playing, which I believe will be shown on Sky today.

Jeanette Lusher: It was a toss up between 2003, when the Wigan youngsters recorded a very unexpected victory against a very strong Saints side, and 2011.

As the question related to a derby moment, I have chosen 2011 when Liam Farrell scored in the last minute to snatch the victory.

The delight etched on the faces of players, coaches and management just showed what it means to beat Saints. The sheer ecstasy of the Wigan fans and the utter dejection on the faces of the Saints supporters as the Sky camera panned over them was what dreams are made of!

Absolutely gutted not to have a derby this week as we were looking good for the win on our early form this season.

Darren Wrudd: For me it’s the little things that make a good memory, whether it be Good Friday or not.

I particularly remember an incident at the DW, but I honestly can’t remember the year.

It was relatively recent though as it concerns one Mr Tommy Makinson, the talented right winger currently in the squad.

As you do in games against the plastic scousers, the crowd was getting on top of the Saints players and really giving them some stick.

Tensions were rising and a series of fouls by Saints led to a typical minor skirmish. Mainly collar-grabbing and verbals but, with the added shouts from the crowd, baying for blood, players were right on the edge of losing it.

Next contact and the whistle blew pretty much in front of us for another Wigan penalty.

Makinson went crying to the referee with arms spread wide, bemoaning the decision and the crowd around us, me included, screamed at him to stop his whining. Caught up in the moment, and no doubt regretting it as soon as he had spoken, he spun around and, picture this, body full of tense energy, arms straight down at his sides with fists clenched, he screamed at the crowd: ‘Just F off!’

Of course as supporters our job was done, half the West Stand burst out laughing, and he was beaten.

To this day I still see him on TV and shout to Glenda, ‘Ey up, it’s JFO on the wing again’.

Alex Graham: It’s always satisfying beating St Helens on Good Friday, particularly when we do it in their own backyard, with 1994 standing out when Neil Cowie was headbutted by Adam Fogherty in the scrum.

But my favourite has to be in 2003, when a team of full-strength St Helens superstars came to the JJB and were beaten by an injury-ridden Wigan side which included 10 players aged 21 and under.

Before the game we were given no hope, but the grit and determination from the young academy products such as Sean O’Loughlin shone through, and we were able to hold on for a tense victory, proudly led by the oldest player that day – Adrian Lam.

Jon Lyon: Under Shaun Wane’s tenure we have been lucky enough to have plenty of fantastic Good Friday derby memories in the recent past.

I could list many great moments but none come close to Liam Farrell’s last-gasp winning try in 2011.

Trailing 24-22 with seconds to go, and every pie-eater’s Easter weekend about to be ruined, Liam took a short ball off Paul Deacon and ploughed past two Saints defenders to hammer the ball down and seal a magical win.In rugby terms at least, there isn’t much better in life than beating Saints, and doing it so late, with a local lad scoring the winning try, it’s everything we watch the sport for in one sweet moment.

If you could have one Saints player past or present in the current Wigan side, who would it be?

Sean Lawless: Picking one Saints player to get into the current Wigan side is tricky, not because of the quality that St Helens have in their side, but just the actual thought of it!

If it had to be someone, I would controversially pick Sean Long.

As an ex-Wigan player, seeing Long back at Wigan in this side would perhaps be the one area we could improve upon.

We have struggled recently, and I think the way Long wore the St Bernard’s head after the Wide to West try shows that he could suitably be an option for Wigan, as a mascot.

Competition for places would be tough for Long, but he could perhaps get himself a run out in the old Kelvin the Gorilla costume.

Jess Foxley: Well as much as it absolutely pains me to credit St Helens, they too have had some incredibly talented players take to the field.

It’s a difficult decision for me to make.

Jamie Lyon was an absolute machine, not to mention the goal kicking, but it has to be James Roby.

Absolutely solid week in, week out.

A very talented player and someone who is a one-club man.

And you don’t get that very often these days.

A St Helens legend and legend of the game, without a doubt.

Robert Kenyon: Paul Sculthorpe, by a country mile.

He could do anything – he was fast, he could tackle, he was creative, he had a mean hand-off, he could kick both out of his hands and at goal, he could fight, he was a leader of men, he was consistent and always raised his game a notch at international level.

I was too young to remember Ellery Hanley, a lot of people say he’s the best British player they’ve ever seen, so for me it’s Paul Sculthorpe.

Jeanette Lusher: After much deliberation I have decided on Paul Sculthorpe. Paul had all the attributes you could desire in an all round top player from his ability to read a game well to his kicking skills.

His leadership at both club and international level was always exemplary, and he was a fine role model for the youngsters.

I regard him as the Saints version of Andy Farrell and that truly is some accolade. Post-playing days Paul has always promoted the game with pride and positivity and certainly he talks a lot of sense.

He has a wealth of knowledge that he is happy to share for the betterment of our game, and he has plenty of time and respect for supporters.

Darren Wrudd: I would have to pick a prop forward, as I think the current Wigan side is pretty much covered in all other positions.

There are a few of course, in their day were a proper handful.

Paul Anderson or Sia Soliola would be high up there, but Luke Thompson fits the modern game superbly.

A good engine, solid defence and runs through the tackle not just to it.

I can’t imagine trying to tackle him when in full flight as the explosive reaction to any contact would knock me into next week so, yes, I think Thompson would be my choice.

Alex Graham: There weren’t many players as strong, tough and versatile as Paul Sculthorpe.

Not many players would be the first name on the teamsheet for more than two positions at club or international level particularly in early Super League days when players were more pigeon holed positionally.

He could play second row, loose forward and stand off at a high level and kick goals. A true Great Britain great.

Jon Lyon: There’s no denying Saints have had some wonderful players over the years.

We were lucky enough to sign two of their finest in Andy Platt and Gary Connolly, who proved to be fantastic servants to our club and two of the best English players I have ever seen.

If you’re looking for a game-breaker then Sean Long and Jamie Lyon would have to be up there, but I was a fan of Tommy Martyn.

He seemed to always pull something out of the bag when it was needed, and had a Shaun Edwards-esque ability to sniff out half an opportunity and support a break. He certainly put us to the sword many a time.

Leeds CEO Gary Hetherington says asking players to play three times a week when the season resumes is not a welfare issue – agree?

Sean Lawless: I think Hetherington’s comments were made from a businessman’s point of view and are outdated opinions.

Three games a week would be disastrous, perhaps not in the short term but certainly towards the business-end of the season.

We would experience player burn-out and the quality of the games in the later parts of the season would suffer as a consequence.

We need to view our return, whenever that is, as a new dawn and an opportunity to sell the great game.

The last thing we need is exhausted squads producing poor games, as a result of playing three games a week.

Jess Foxley: I think the suggestion of playing three times a week is utterly ridiculous.

After the season being called off for so long, players aren’t going to be match fit right away anyway, are they?

How can anyone expect them to play so much?

The standard of the game would be dire.

At Wigan we are very lucky to have squad depth but other teams aren’t that lucky.

Toronto can’t even field a full team, so how the heck can anyone be expected to play three times a week?

It IS a welfare issue. Enough said on that matter.

Robert Kenyon: I wouldn’t bother with three times a week, I’d run the competition starting when it can and run it through winter if needs be and shorten next season a touch, maybe start next season at the beginning of April.

I would like to see winter rugby come back, just so we have something to do in the winter months because, let’s be honest, we aren’t under 3ft of snow for three months.

But in summer there’s too much to do for families to compete with, in winter there isn’t.

Jeanette Lusher: Gary Hetherington has played professional rugby league so he should know better than many that three times a week is just not possible. The very fact the Easter Monday fixture was dropped this season on player welfare grounds proves it.

I do, however, buy into Brian McDermott’s proposal of playing 60 minute games to complete the season.

Darren Wrudd: I would suggest to Hetherington he wakes up and smells what he is shovelling.

For someone to have been around the game for so long, to spout such drivel on a regular basis is beyond me.

The modern game takes its toll on our players, not from the cardio fitness which our athletes have pretty much covered these days, but from the impacts that this brings. No amount of training can help a body heal quicker than mother nature intends, and if we over-expose our players in that way, we show them no respect at all for their commitment and dedication to playing for our clubs. Perhaps Hetherington could come off the bench and do a few himself to remind him of exactly what it takes to be a modern rugby league player, now that I would pay to watch.

Alex Graham: I’m surprised a current Super League CEO would come out and say that. To compare players from the era of Wigan’s 90/91 ‘’Mission Impossible’’ season, playing eight matches 18 games to clinch the Championship, and the modern athlete is extremely naive.

The stress of full-time training regimes and intensity of modern rugby league fixtures require players’ bodies to have much-needed rest and recovery.

Just because it was once done doesn’t mean it’s right, and not only do we have to protect the player welfare first and foremost, but we also have to protect standards, as three games in one week would inevitably drive quality down as Easter periods suggest.

Jon Lyon: I take pretty much everything Gary Hetherington says with a pinch of salt. If he really believes that, then he’s even more deluded than I thought.

I’m sure there are all kinds of medical studies by qualified people who will beg to differ. We’ve already moved from two to one match over Easter weekend for this very reason so why he has said that I don’t know.

I suspect it is to ensure we squeeze as many games in as possible so he can keep the cash flowing into Headlingley.

While the cash flow of clubs is vitally important, it must still come second to player welfare.

Gary has to remember the fans are suffering financially too.

And there’s no guarantee they will be able to afford three games a week when we’re up and running again.

I’m sure common sense will eventually prevail and Gary will have to deal with whatever is decided, reduced matches and all.

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