On this Day – 24th May
In 1947, Leeds lost out to Featherstone Rovers at Headingley as they began to wrap up their season after the Challenge Cup loss to Bradford at Wembley.
The home side crossed for two tries through Arthur Clues and one each for Tommy Cornelius and Best.
On this day in 1963 Barry Seaborne made his Leeds debut against Hull KR, in what was the final game of the season. This was the season of the big freeze! Not a single game was played at Headingley between December 1st and April 3rd, a period of seventeen weeks, and Leeds finished their First Division programme with 18 games in 55 days. Never agam! The Leeds board resolved that Headingley should have an ‘electric blanket’, similar to the one at Murrayfield, and pressed ahead with the installation of an under-soil heating system, involving thirty miles of cable, a first of its kind in Rugby League.
In May the Loiners had played nine games, two of these coming in the last seven days, with the team losing to Castleford on the 18th before defeating Warrington just two days prior to this fixture.
The first meeting between the sides that season had actually been earlier that month and on that occasion the Loiners were the 13-3 winners but in this game they were unable to end the season on a high and despite tries from Wriglesworth, Toohey and Davies and a goal from Lewis Jones the team lost 34-11.
On this day in 1969 the Loiners took on Castleford at Odsal in the Championship final. Already that season Castleford had claimed the Challenge Cup, knocking out Leeds on the way, and were looking to clinch the double with a win over their local rivals.
Leeds’ league form had been outstanding throughout the season, with the side only losing three games and to get to this final they had seen off Oldham, Workington and Salford. The team was led out by Captain Barry Seabourne in front if 28,442 fans. Leeds took the lead after just two minutes with a successful penalty but Castelford soon equalised.
Ronnie Cowan then scored a try to restore the Loiners lead, but it was not long before Castleford were back in front thanks to a Dickinson converted try and they then extended their lead when they awarded a penalty in what was becoming an increasingly physical game. Redfearn and Risman the exchanged penalties to see the half time score 11-7 to Castleford.
In the second half Leeds were without Seabourne and Clark, but Risman helped relieve the pressure with a successful goal. Alan Hardisty then crossed the line for Castleford but this time Redfern was unable to add the conversion. Ramsey added a crucial drop goal for Leeds to cut the deficit to just three points and with five minutes remaining the team were spurred on.
Excellent play from Bev Risman set up John Atkinson who scored a try to level the game and then Risman added the crucial conversion to seal the amazing 16-14 win.
On this day in 1975 former Rhino Ryan Sheridan was born. Ryan joined the club in December 1996 from Sheffield Eagles he was originally seen as a utility player and in his first season mixed between scrum half and hooker. However with the arrival of Graham Murray in 1998, Sheridan came of age and was the perfect foil to the individual brilliance of Iestyn Harris with his organisational skills. Dewsbury born Sheridan saved his best performances for the Rhinos for the Challenge Cup, a competition he seemed to have a love affair with.
In 1999 he was man of the match in all three crucial games on the way to the Final against Wigan, St Helens and then Bradford in the semi final. His incredible pinching of the ball from Danny Peacock in the latter stages of the first half turned the game on it’s head and assured the Rhinos place at Wembley. Indeed, in the final but for Leroy Rivett’s late burst of four tries, Sheridan would surely have won the Lance Todd Trophy.
He was magnificent under the Twin Towers, twice denying London in the opening quarter as they threatened to cause a huge upset. His last ditch tackle on Shaun Edwards and then Karle Hammond steadied the ship before the second half onslaught began. The following season Sheridan was back to his best in the cup again claiming man of the match awards three more times, a run which continued right up until 2002 when he again scooped the award in the memorable win over Bradford Bulls at Valley Parade. Sheridan’s time at Leeds was only interrupted by a serious muscle tear in 2001 which virtually ruled him out for the whole season. In total, Sheridan made 145 starts for Leeds plus 9 substitute appearances. He scored 59 tries and four drop goals to give him a total of 240 points in the Blue and Amber.
In 1996, Leeds took on Bradford in the first Super League season and a miserable season for the Loiners continued with a crushing 54-8 loss to the Bulls. The game also included the debut of Academy graduate Gavin Brown.