THE sporting media’s consideration was rightly targeted on Alfie Devine yesterday when the 16-year-old netted in Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-0 win over Marine – changing into the membership’s youngest ever participant and scorer.
Alfie Devine celebrates. Pic: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
Eager Saints followers of a sure age will recall that Alfie’s dad Sean was a nippy half again who had a spell at Knowsley Highway between 1987-91, enjoying 39 video games at 6 and seven.
He sadly suffered a stunning leg break within the final of these matches – the Problem Cup first spherical at Swinton and was transferred to Oldham the next yr.
His most interesting hour and a half within the pink vee, nevertheless, got here within the 1990 Problem Cup semi-final – at a venue that younger Alfie can hope to shine on in years to come back…..Outdated Trafford.
Alas, this could find yourself in a late heartbreak within the closing minutes.
After crushing Whitehaven, Mike McClennan’s mob confronted a extra formidable and acquainted foe within the final hurdle earlier than Wembley – Wigan.
On paper Saints stood no probability – not in opposition to the very best group cash might purchase; Andy Gregory and Shaun Edwards within the halves, and Kevin Iro, Joe Lydon, Dean Bell within the again line and Ellery Hanley in his pomp. These had been the very guys who had made the lads within the pink vee such a laughing inventory at Wembley ’89.
Nonetheless, in an enthralling recreation worthy of the Outdated Trafford environment, a rejuvenated Saints caught it to them – making certain there was no walkover.
Making full use of the open areas teen scrum half Sean Devine nipped in for the primary with Les Quirk long-range gem being a rating worthy of reserving a cup remaining passage.
Taking the ball inside his personal 20-metre line, the deceptively fast Cumbrian scorched round speedster Joe Lydon after which his lengthy strides ate up the yards to take him previous Ged Byrne and Steve Hampson for a marvel strive.
The noise from the Saints contingent within the 26,489 crowd packed within the Stretford Finish reached a crescendo as a result of immediately there was an actual perception that they might do it.
Crucially, Saints misplaced skipper Cooper by damage for a 10-minute spell – and whereas he was off the sport turned and the lead grew to become a two-point deficit.
A Paul Loughlin penalty levelled the scores 10 minutes from time and it grew to become a recreation of subsequent rating wins.
There have been half possibilities within the closing phases, significantly when Devine tore by the Wigan defence to roars of approval. Alas the help was lacking and the younger scrum half was dragged into contact.
On the opposite aspect of the ball Saints’ defence was additionally on its mettle, epitomised by an amazing strive saving sort out by teenage full again Gary Connolly on celebrity Lydon.
After throwing all bar the kitchen sink at Wigan, and absorbing all in return, Saints misplaced within the cruellest of trend 90 seconds shy of a hooter that ought to have introduced a replay.
From 40 metres out Ellery Hanley blasted previous 4 would-be defenders earlier than popping a ball ahead for the supporting Andy Goodway. The ultimate go was a mile ahead – however the protestations had been in useless because the GB second row plonked the ball beneath the posts.
The roars of ‘for-ward’ had been carefully adopted by what was then that the majority terrible sound in rugby league from the opposite a part of the bottom; ‘Wi-gan, Wi-gan, Wi-gan!’
It was a real heartbreaker – even Saints followers hardened by depressing Wembley defeats left the bottom ashen confronted, such was the way of this loss.
It had been a traditional recreation, one nonetheless talked about at the moment by a era of followers – and one wherein you needed to really feel for forwards like huge George Mann, Bernard Dwyer and Shane Cooper who had slogged their guts out in opposition to the large Wigan pack solely to be foiled within the final minutes.
However you additionally felt for kids just like the 20-year-old Devine on what would develop into his final huge stage as a Saint.