DFP – Head Script

Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

1988 Elland Road memories return

13th March 2018 | 5:19 pm

By Phil Daly


On Friday 23rd March, Leeds take on Castleford at Elland Road in the Betfred Super League and The Clash will evoke memories for fans of another meeting 30 years ago this year when the two sides met in the Yorkshire Cup Final at Elland Road in front of 23,000 fans.

WP – In Article MPU

On Friday 23rd March, Leeds take on Castleford at Elland Road in the Betfred Super League and The Clash will evoke memories for fans of another meeting 30 years ago this year when the two sides met in the Yorkshire Cup Final at Elland Road in front of 23,000 fans.

As we build up to the game over the next ten days, we will look back at some of the characters in that Leeds side but to start with, here is a reminder of the Boys of ’88. You can book your ticket now for The Clash at tickets.therhinos.co.uk

Full back Gary Spencer

A Fireman who arrived at Leeds in the summer of 1987 from Wakefield in a deal that also saw John Lyons move from Belle Vue while Andy Mason, Phil Fox, Keith Rayne and Mark Conway went the other way. He made 41 appearances for the club before returning to Trinity in November 1990 following the big name signing of John Gallagher.

Right wing Andrew Ettingshausen

Became a superstar in his two spells at Leeds, both before he had been capped by Australia. In total he scored 30 tries in 41 appearances for the club over the two games. On his return to Australia and his only other club, Cronulla, he set about creating a legendary career that saw him become the first ever player to play 300 first grade games for one club and is still seventh in the all time list of appearances and third in the all time list of try scorers in the Australian game.

Right centre Garry Schofield

Schofield joined Leeds for a world record fee in October 1987 from Hull and spent nine years at his home town club. The Yorkshire Cup remained his only winners medal however he left Leeds fans with a host of memories with a career that was highlighted by spectacular solo tries. He was capped a record equalling 46 times for Great Britain. In total made 251 appearances for the club, scoring 147 tries, 64 goals and 30 drop goals for a total of 746 points. He left Leeds at the start of the Super League era to become player coach of Huddersfield Giants.

Left Centre David Stephenson

A Rugby Union convert, he joined Leeds from Wigan and had the honour of winning back to back County titles having lifted the Lancashire Cup with the Cherry and Whites in 1987. He scored six goals in the win over Castleford.  He only made 36 appearances for Leeds before moving to nearer his Blackpool home when he went to Leigh for £55,000 the following season. Is now coaching Fleetwood Rugby Union club.

Left Wing Carl Gibson

Carl Gibson started his career at his home town of Batley and spent five seasons at Mount Pleasant before Leeds paid £50,000 to bring him to Headingley in January 1986. He became a mainstay of the team, setting a record for consecutive appearances that has only been beaten by Francis Cummins, Kevin Sinfield and Scott Donald in recent times. He scored two tries in the Final and made 235 appearances for Leeds, scoring 93 tries before moving to Featherstone in 1993.

Stand Off Cliff Lyons

Lyons picked up the Man of the Match Award in the Yorkshire Cup Final which was just reward in his second spell at the club, which sandwiched a brief period at Sheffield Eagles. Famed for his defensive toughness as much as his attacking skills, Lyons had the complete package and was feared and admired by opponents in equal measure. In Australia, he is best known for his association with Manly, whose coaching staff he rejoined last season, and he was a thorn in Great Britain side when wearing the Green and Gold.

Scrum half Ray Ashton

Ashton joined Leeds in 1986 from Oldham for £40,000 and was a regular in the Leeds side for the next three seasons. In total he made 68 appearances, 62 of which were in the starting line up, scoring nine tries.

Prop Lee Crooks (c)

One of the brightest young stars of his generation, Crooks joined Leeds in 1987 for a record fee of £150,000 on a ten year contract. A Challenge Cup winner and Great Britain international from his time at Hull, his career never realised its full potential at Headingley however he did skipper Leeds to the Yorkshire Cup win in 1988 against the club he would later join, as Leeds recovered the fee they had paid Hull two years earlier. In total he made 56 appearances for Leeds.

Hooker Colin Maskill

Originally signed in January 1985, joining from Wakefield for £40,000 as understudy to David Ward, he went on to spend ten seasons at Headingley. In total, the hooker made an impressive 220 appearances for the club, all bar 14 of which were in the starting line up. His time at the club spanned a several incarnations of the team but he only had the Yorkshire Cup winners medal to show for his efforts. He eventually moved to Castleford and appeared for them at the start of the summer era. Still a regular at Headingley as part of his role with ISC.

Prop Hugh Waddell

Capped five times, the last of which was in his time at Leeds against France, Waddell made his debut for Leeds four games into the 1988-89 season in a home defeat to Widnes. He produced a man of the match display having arrived from Oldham, with John Fairbank going the other way, and went on to play 53 times for Leeds over the next two seasons.  He also played in Australia with Manly.

Second Row Roy Powell

Fondly remembered as the gentle giant of the Leeds team, the loss of Roy is still felt deeply by all who knew him and no doubt he will not be far from the thoughts of his former team mates tonight. Originally signed from St John Fisher in Dewsbury, he gained 19 Great Britain and played for Bradford, Featherstone, Batley and Rochdale but it is for his efforts in blue and amber that he will be most fondly remembered. He made 228 appearances for Leeds before moving to Bradford for £80,000 in 1992. He sadly passed away in December 1998.

Second Row Mark Brooke-Cowden

Mark Brooke-Cowden arrived in Rugby League with a big reputation having just helped the All Blacks to win the first ever Rugby Union World Cup in 1987 on home soil. Signed by Maurice Bamford, he arrived in the summer of 1987 as part of a major overhaul of the Leeds playing roster. He would go on to make 45 appearances, 30 in the starting line up, before moving to Salford for the start of the 1989-90 season. Now back living in his native New Zealand as a financial advisor.

Loose Forward Dave Heron

Will go down as the one of the best players to ever play for Leeds but not appear at Wembley having been a young star of the 1977 and 1978 squads, he missed out on the Final and was never able to return to the Twin Towers. However, what he did achieve was a remarkable career for his home town club having signed from Hunslet Parkside in April 1976 for £1,800. He remained at the club until 1992, making 380 appearances and scoring 90 tries. He made two appearances for Great Britain and also played at Bradford and Batley.

Substitute Paul Medley

A replacement for Brooke-Cowden after 53 minutes at Elland Road, Medley joined Leeds from the club’s Colts team in 1984, making his first team debut at home to Workington the following January. Blessed with pace and skill, Leeds were left to rue the decision to let the 22-year-old go to Halifax in January 1989 as part of the deal that brought Paul Dixon to the club. A short spell at Thrum Hall then took him to Bradford where he was part of the birth of the Bulls and played for a decade at Odsal winning the Super League title in 1997.

Substitute Sam Backo

Slamming Sam announced his arrival on the international stage when he became the first Australian forward to score tries in all three games of an Ashes series in 1988 and proved unstoppable for the British defence. Unfortunately Leeds fans did not get to see him replicate that sort of form in his 18 games for the club, the majority of which were off the bench. He played for Canberra and Brisbane in Australia, reaching the 1987 Grand Final with the former as well as playing for Queensland and Australia before being forced to retire with a knee injury in 1990.

Head Coach Mal Reilly

A legendary Castleford player, captain and coach, Mal Reilly was announced as Leeds Head Coach in May 1988 and took up his position in time for the new season, putting his Great Britain duties on hold for the season. All seemed to be going well as they captured silverware at the first time of asking, a sweet moment for Reilly against his former club. However, 14 months later Reilly had left the club and David Ward, who had joined him from Hunslet to be assistant was put in charge. Reilly returned to the Rhinos in 2002 as part of Daryl Powell’s coaching team having led Newcastle Knights to ARL Grand Final glory in Australia.