Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Classy Holmes steers Leeds to John Player Trophy glory in 1973
THERE WERE many memorable moments in John Holmes' record-breaking 625-game Leeds career, which stretched from 1968-89.
One of the most famous came in the John Player Trophy final against Salford at Huddersfield’s Fartown ground on March 24, 1973.
Holmes, who died in 2009, had great vision and game awareness, two qualities highlighted by his long, basketball-style pass to send winger John Atkinson over for the second of his two tries in Leeds’ 12-7 victory.
That was the highlight of a final which began well, but faded in the second half.
A high scoring game was expected with Leeds having racked up 1,003 points in their 42 games that season, with Salford totalling 929.
The clash of reigning county cup holders opened with Salford taking an early lead through Colin Dixon’s try and a David Watkins conversion.
Terry Clawson pulled two points back when Salford scrum-half Peter Banner was penalised for feeding the ball to his team-mate’s feet at a scrum and then Atkinson scored his first try, from a pass by Alan Hardisty.
Clawson converted to nose Leeds in front and Atkinson’s second touchdown made it 10-5 at the interval, but Watkins cut the gap – with his 196th goal of the season – early in the second period.
Defences dominated after that and both teams resorted to long-range pot shots, Hardisty and Syd Hynes missing with drop goal attempts for Leeds and Watkins sending a penalty off-target, the wind blowing the ball over as he kicked.
Clawson was taken off late on and Holmes sealed Leeds’ victory – and a £5,000 winner’s cheque – with a 76th-minute penalty goal.
Leeds scrum-half Keith Hepworth was named man of the match and reporting in the Green Post, Arthur Haddock wrote: “Leeds deserved to take the trophy because they fought back after that third minute hammer blow which gave the Lancastrians a 5-0 lead.
“Salford failed to build on the splendid send off to the game and so they went down to their fifth consecutive defeat against Leeds.”
(Tries: Atkinson 2. Goals: Clawson 2, Holmes)
Salford 7 (Try: Dixon. Goals: Watkins 2)
March 24, 1973, John Player Trophy final At Fartown, Huddersfield.
Leeds: Holmes, Smith, Hynes, Dyl, Atkinson, Hardisty, Hepworth, Clawson, Fisher, Jeanes. Haigh, Cookson, Eccles. Subs Ward, Pickup.
Salford: Charlton, Colloby, Watkins, Hesketh, Richards, Gill, Banner, Ramshaw, Ward, Mackay, Grice, Kirkbride, Dixon.
Referee: Billy Thompson.