What is your favourite Headingley memory?

Today marks 130 years since Headingley Stadium first opened it’s gates and kicks off our year long celebration of our famous homes heritage for over a century.

Whilst we might be unable to be together during the coronavirus lockdown, we want to share your memories with other fans so we can all reminisce together and look forward to when we can be back together. Send us your memories but also speak to older members of your family or neighbours about their oldest memories of coming to Headingley, you’ll be amazed by the great details and facts they will be able to reveal to you about somewhere you still come to, to this day.

It could be a great Leeds performance, a notable Cup win or a famous clash against a touring side. Headingley has also hosted numerous Cup Finals and semi finals down the years as well as dozens of Test matches and international fixtures, check out the full list here, so think back and tell us your favourite.

We have picked out a handful of memories to get you started and get the conversation started.

Leeds v St Helens – 6th May 1961

Leeds booked their place in the 1961 Championship Final with a thrilling Semi-Final victory over St Helens at Headingley, where every man played his part nobly, not least the two reserves, Vince Hattee and Eddie ‘Vollenhoven shall not pass’ Ratcliffe. Leeds took the initiative from the start, Lewis Jones kicking a goal after only three minutes, and Rosenberg diving over four minutes later to register his 43rd try of the season, a post-war club record.

St Helens, however, gathered themselves, countering a smart try by Hattee with two goals from Rhodes, and the second half found Leeds penned in their own quarters, grimly hanging on to an 8-4 lead. Bravely as the forwards tried to break out, St Helens maintained a vice-like grip, and centre Donovan went over in the corner, only for the try to be disallowed. And still the siege went on.

At Headingley, in 1938, in similar circumstances, Eric Harris, the Toowoomba ghost, had stolen a pass and thwarted Swinton’s championship hopes with a memorable try. Now it was Rosenberg’s moment of glory!

The breakout was sudden: slick passing between Simms, Evans and Hallas put Rosenberg in possession forty yards out. Sullivan turned from challenging Hallas to find his quarry beyond pursuit; the covering Watson dived in vain; full-back Rhodes had Rosenberg just where he wanted him. on the touchline, but going for a push rather than an all-out tackle, missed him completely, as Rosenberg slipped through the eye of the proverbial needle to score a try which will always be treasured in Headingley’s rich storehouse of memories.

Leeds v Halifax – 30th March 1964

For a generation of Leeds Rugby League fans, there will also be one player they put above all others; Lewis Jones. ‘Golden Boy’ was already a Welsh and British Lion international in Rugby Union when he arrived in November 1952 for £6,000 however he lit up Headingley over the next twelve seasons most importantly delivering the Holy Grail with the club’s first Championship win in 1961. On Easter Monday 1964 he pulled on the Leeds shirt for the 385th and last time but only just under 8,000 fans were there to see his farewell. An under strength Leeds team rose to the occasion and won 16-7

Leeds v Salford – 10th May 1969

Leeds progressed through to the Championship Final with a 22-12 win over Salford in the Championship play off semi final at Headingley.

A rain-swept morning most have kept a lot fo faint hearts away, for the match of the season only attracted under 16,000. But those who did attend enjoyed every minute of a thrilling first half dominated by Colin Dixon’s brilliant long-run tries which gave Salford a six point lead at half time.

In the second half, Leeds turned on the heat and if Risman had been on target (twice hitting the upright) and two missed try chances been taken, another 16 points would have been scored. 

Leeds: Risman, Cowan, Hynes, Watson, Atkinson, Shoebottom, Seabourne, Clark, Crosby, Joyce, Cookson, Ramsey, Batten
Subs: Langley, Fawdington
Tries: Cowan (2), Batten (2), Hynes Crosby
Goals: Risman (2)

Great Britain v Australia – 1970 World Cup Final – 7th November 1970

Great Britain were undefeated going into the decider having defeated Australia 11-4 at Headingley in the group stages and recorded wins over France (6-0) at Castleford and New Zealand (27-17) at Swinton. They had also wrestled the Ashes back from Australia the previous summer with a 2-1 series win before defeating New Zealand 3-0 on their way home.

A beautiful autumnal Saturday afternoon saw a game which was savagely condemned by the press for its viciousness. Sadly, many critics could not imagine how Great Britain, so fluent and disciplined on the triumphant tour just months earlier, had so obviously lost the plot. They had 80% of the first half play and overall twice as much scrum possession but produced no try until the dying moments. Australia’s defence was unshakable and they took their few chances brilliantly.

Britain led after four minutes, when Ray Dutton kicked a penalty but Australia levelled on 20 minutes, after Eric Simms landed a penalty the first time his side got near the British goal. On 37 minutes, Mal Reilly lost the ball and Ron Coote sent John Cootes in for a try before Britain could react. Syd Hynes, from acting half-back, dropped a goal with the last kick of the first half.

The crucial score went to Australia in the 51st minute. A clever pass by Bob McCarthy was taken by Lionel Williamson 20 yards out. John Atkinson and Mick Shoebottom collided in trying to make the tackle and Williamson crashed over at the corner.  Simms struck a great conversion and 12 minutes later popped over a short-range drop goal. Atkinson claimed Britain’s try just before the end, although there was still time for Billy Smith and Hynes to be sent off. After the final whistle blew fisticuffs replaced handshakes as another brawl erupted.

Leeds v St Helens – BBC Floodlit Trophy Final – 15th December 1970

The Electricity Board clamp down on light was a big disappointment for this Floodlit Trophy Final that was played without floodlights! The standard of football from both teams was enough to light up Headingley and the final score was a fair reflection of the game with Leeds just having that little better attacking idea.

Both tries were well taken, the first by St Helens opened up a gap in their own half, and the one by Leeds created by Ramsey was quickly spotted by Hynes, who scored under the posts, after beating Mantle.

It was an excellent match to watch, no niggling – just 100% Rugby League football as it can and should be played every week.

Leeds v Hull KR – Yorkshire Cup Final – 15th November 1975

Leeds defeated Hull KR in a pulsating game and won the Yorkshire Cup from the holders for a record 13th time with a much weakened side. The lead changed hands four times until the closing stages when Dyl scored a brilliant try and two goals by Holmes.

Syd Hynes came in at scrum half and Hague at centre. Millward was the man to watch with his clever through kicks. Sullivan scored for Hull after five minutes, but Fox failed at goal from the touch line.

Cookson sailed in for a try and Holmes goaled. Holmes kicked a penalty and Leeds led 7-3 at the interval. Hull attacked strongly and Neil Fox showed his old magic when he went in for a try and kicked the goal. It was a ding-dong affair with lots of excitement. Dyl scored a try four minutes form the end and Holmes added two more goals.

Leeds v Wigan – 9th October 1988

Garry Schofield crossed for four tries at Headingley as Mal Reilly’s side signalled their intent for a Championship push with a well earned win. 

The home side opened the scoring when Dave Heron and Ray Ashton worked a lovely move in midfield to create space for Cliff Lyons to put David Stephenson through a gap and the centre offloaded to Schofield to cross at the line. 

Stephenson was proving a constant thorn in the side of his former club and he had them back peddling again soon after. Leeds then moved the ball quickly along the line and Hugh Waddell’s offload enabled Lyons to find Schofield, who cut back across the defence to double the lead. Stephenson added the conversion to make it 10-0.

Wigan needed a response and, like so many times before, it was Ellery Hanley who came up with the score as he raced passed Powell and Backo to score outwide. Andy Gregory added the conversion to bring his side back in the game at 10-6. 

From a penalty against Schofield, Wigan levelled the game when Ian Lucas barged his way over from close range. The touchline conversion attempt was missed to leave the game evenly poised at 10-10 at half time. 

Leeds looked like they had hit the front again in the second half but they were controversially denied a try for Carl Gibson. A high kick from Ashton was spilled by the Wigan loose forward before Gibson regathered the ball as he fell and touched down. However referee Whitfield disallowed the try after consultation with the touch judge when he was knocked over in the build up by Backo. 

The home side then produced the try of the match following a brilliant break by Powell. He burst through in his own half before feeding Andrew Ettingshausen. The Australian looked to have put Gibson away for a second try however good cover defence denied him initially. However, Wigan were running short of numbers and Schofield then made the most of the break to go over from dummy half and complete his hat trick. Stephenson added the touchline conversion to make it 16-10.

Leeds had to withstand a period of pressure from Wigan after that however they managed to come away with the ball before Schofield struck the decisive blow, breaking through in midfield before rounding Richard Russell to score his fourth try. Stephenson added the conversion to give his side breathing space at 22-10. 

Wigan continued to battle away and Steve Frost crossed for try with less than four minutes to play but it was too little too late for the visitors. The win took Leeds above Wigan in the table into fifth place and was the perfect preparations for their next game against Castleford in the Yorkshire Cup Final at Elland Road.

Leeds: Spencer, Ettingshausen, Schofield, Stephenson, Gibson, Lyons, Ashton, Backo, Gunn, Waddell, Powell, Brooke-Cowden, Heron.
Subs: Lord, Medley

Leeds Rhinos v Adelaide Rams – 18th July 1997

Paul Sterling scored one of the greatest ever tries ever witnessed at Emerald Headingley Stadium when Leeds gained their only win in the 1997 World Club Championship.

A crowd of 11,269 turned up at Headingley to see if Rhinos could restore some pride for Super League after the European competition had been humiliated in the first batch of games a month earlier.

The Yorkshire Evening Post’s match report described the clash between Super League’s second-placed side and the team second from bottom in the Aussie competition as “a magnificent game and a genuine ‘you had to be there’ night, which will be talked about for years to come”.

A tense encounter looked to be going down to the wire when Solomon Kiri touched down for the visitors and Luke Williamson kicked the conversion, to reduce Leeds’ lead to just six points deep in the second half, but what happened next was very special.

Rams’ restart found Sterling on Leeds’ line, in front of the South Stand. The veteran winger tore upfield, went inside and out and the down the touchline to score at the corner, 100 metres from where he had caught the ball and with the entire Adelaide defence – including full-back Michael Maguire, later to coach Wigan Warriors – left flat-footed in his wake.

Rhinos led Rams 8-0 at half-time, thanks to an early penalty goal from Iestyn Harris and a try by Damian Gibson, off a kick from Harris, who also converted. Williamson landed a penalty at the start of the second period, but Phil Hassan capped a strong game by going over for Leeds’ second try, from Graham Holroyd’s long pass. Harris converted and then, after Dean Schifilliti had scored a try which Williamson improved to put the result back in the balance at 18-14, rounded off the scoring with two late penalty goals.

Leeds Rhinos: Holroyd, Sterling, Gibson, Hassan, Golden, Harris, Sheridan, Masella, Collins, Mathiou, Morley, Farrell, Mercer
Subs: Rivett, Hay, Newton, Field

Adelaide Rams: Maguire, Simonds, Wrigley, Kiri, Grimley, Williamson, Stone, Hick, Walters, Corvo, Galea, Boughton, Blair
Subs: Mamando, Schifilliti, Pierce, Paiyo

Referee: Russell Smith
Attendance: 11,269

Leeds Rhinos v St Helens – 2nd October 2015

On an emotional night at Emerald Headingley, Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai played their final games at their home ground as they kept the Treble dream alive.

What is your favourite memory?

Now we have got you thinking, make sure you send us your favourite memories by emailing info@leedsrugby.com and remember to include your name and age and how long you have been supporting the club so other fans reading your memory can associate with you.