After election to the Football League in 1978 it was four seasons before we had our first success with promotion to Division Three. It was however three seasons later that we picked up our first trophy when we lifted the inaugural Freight Rover Trophy on 1st June 1985. The team made it by beating Mansfield at the Field Mill on penalties as the young cocky Warren Aspinall put the final penalty away after Roy Tunks had saved three penalties to win the shoot out. Make no doubt about it the side back then was superb. Paul Jewell was often left on the bench.
In the build-up to the game the ever-reliant John Butler was injured with his place being taken by local lad Barry Knowles. In goal and with over 600 League appearances Tunks was stepping out at Wembley for the first time. Alongside him were experienced players such as Colin Methven and Alex Cribley with young scallies like David Lowe and Gary Bennett. At the age of 20 Paul Jewell had been to Wembley six times previously with Liverpool without getting a game. As Jewell said before the game “When I left Anfield I thought ‘that’s it. There goes what chance I had of playing at Wembley’ but I couldn’t be more wrong.” Needless to say arch-scally Tony Kelly had more than sixty of the Kelly clan following him to Wembley. As Kelly said “Aunties and uncles I never knew I had have all asked for tickets and there’s no question about it, when my family have a day out, they certainly go in force.”
When the glorious day arrived the Kelly clan was joined by 15,000 Wiganers that made the journey south to the old stadium of Wembley and saw us beat a fine Brentford side 3-1. With the world’s media focused on the game due to the dreadful scenes at Heysel three days earlier the final was billed as “a day out for the family” and the teams and fans certainly obliged (many had been two weeks earlier watching the rugby). Before the match there was an all-star charity kick-about. Naturally I was in the pub and didn’t see it but I believe George Best and Rod Stewart played for the Showbiz XI against a London Broadcasting XI. Other players on the pitch included Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Stan Bowles and Geoff Hurst.
Unsurprisingly the minute’s silence for the victims at Heysel and the Bradford fire was interrupted by some visiting Chelsea fans and then the teams were introduced to ELTON JOHN. Well he is the Queen Mum of pop, I suppose.
Brentford went into the game as the favourites on the back of a thirteen-match unbeaten run but once Latics went ahead after twenty-seven minutes through Mike Newell they were never in it. The main battle on the pitch was in midfield between Graham Barrow and Brentford’s hardman Terry Hurlock. Barrow was supreme and there with it went the match. With seven minutes to half time Barrow laid the ball off to Tony Kelly and his low shot skidded below the Brentford keeper Phillips body. Brentford were given a bit of hope when Robbie Cooke volleyed home for them on 52 minutes but within three minutes David Lowe produced a brilliant overhead kick to make it 3-1 and seal the match.
It was a tremendous game and if you can pick up a video/DVD of the game then do so and appreciate the skill of that Wigan team of 1985.
Brentford, – Phillips: Salman, Murray, Millen, Wignall, Hurlock, Kamara (yes the moustachioed one from SKY), Cooke, Booker (Bullivant 60), Cassells, Roberts
Wigan, – Tunks: Cribley, Knowles, Kelly, Walsh, Methven, Lowe, Barrow, Bennett (Aspinall 65), Newell (Jewell 85), Langley