FOR most people the name Wakefield Trinity means just one thing – THAT missed goal kick at Wembley!
It seems to have become tradition that when putting together their montage for rugby league’s Challenge Cup final, a clip of Don Fox skewing his last-minute goal attempt wide of the posts to hand the trophy to arch-rivals Leeds after Wakey had looked all set to save themselves in the ‘watersplash’ final of 1968 is a must.
And, of course, it has to be accompanied by Eddie Waring’s “poor lad” vocals.
Having been assured of at least one painful moment every year, it’s not surprising Trinity fans have become used to turmoil as the club lurch from one crisis to the next.
My own affection for the club stretches back to my teenage years.
Being at school in Wakefield with plenty of mates who were addicted to the red, white and blue, it was the first chance to have a team to myself.
Brought up in a rugby league household where both my dad and his dad were followers of Swinton and my mum and her dad were fans of Featherstone Rovers, this was a chance to grab a bit of independence.
Thanks to Barrow senior being a referee and then touchjudge I had pretty much watched every team dozens of times and really was not that partisan in my approach – although my head was turned for a while when I watched the Salford side that boasted Keith Fielding, David Watkins and Chris Hesketh (who gave me one of his old shirts).
However, by the mid-seventies I had nailed my colours to the mast and the highlight of it all was the 1979 trip to Wembley with my mates to watch Trinity put up a fight in the final before losing out to Widnes 12-3.
My heroes were the likes of David Topliss and Andy ‘Catweazle’ Fletcher, but the club was still to a large extent basking in the glow of the sixties, when Neil Fox, Harold Poynton, Gerry Round and Rocky Turner were kings.
The club had also enjoyed the limelight of ‘This Sporting Life’, a book written by former Wakefield schoolboy David Storey and made into a film starring Richard Harris which was filmed at Belle Vue.
In recent weeks this history has been regularly cited in articles charting the demise of this once great club.
But I for one have hardly been consumed by terror at what some seem to think is a sudden death knell caused by financial problems with the added threat of the loss of Super League status.
In fact I think most Wakefield fans are probably surprised it has taken this long to happen.
I had the job of covering Trinity for the Wakefield Express in the eighties, and even then it hardly qualified as being that glamorous.
At that stage Wakey had slipped from the top flight and while blessed with great characters like John Thompson, Nigel Bell and Billy Conway – all local boys who had a great passion for the club – it was a long way from the glory days of Neil Fox.
Despite the fleeting boost that Australian superman Wally Lewis had provided, Trinity were already fighting a battle to make ends meet and even then there was plenty of talk of projects that would move the club away from Belle Vue to start a bright new future at Pugneys, Durkar, Thornes Park or wherever.
Here we are the best part of a quarter of a century on and getting away from the historic old ground still seems to be the focal point of Wakefield kicking on to a brighter future.
New owners are now on board, but the recent spell in administration has been at a cost, with Sam Obst, Dale Ferguson (to the Giants) and Daryl Millard all departing.
Four points have also been deducted, but Saturday’s win over Catalans in France has brought fresh optimism to the faithful.
If the eventual upshot of the various trials and tribulations is the loss of Super League status then Trinity fans will have to live with it.
After all, it won’t be the first time that the club has come bouncing back!