THE HEAVIEST defeat in Leeds’ history occurred 71 years ago today.
As rugby league struggled to get back to normality in the weeks after the end of World War Two, Leeds began the season with a run of seven straight losses, scoring only four tries and conceding 53.
A 36-5 defeat at Wigan was followed by a 9-2 home reverse against Featherstone and 10-3 setback at Hull KR, but rock bottom was reached against Wakefield Trinity on Wednesday, September 12, 1945.
The club’s management were already struggling to raise a team and untested players were drafted in from across the north of England.
Leeds travelled to Belle Vue without Fred Harris, whose career at the club was ended by a broken jaw suffered against Featherstone and Dicky Williams, due to a back problem suffered in the same game.
The Loiners’ makeshift line up against Wakefield included only four of their pre-war team, forwards Stan Satterthwaite, Reg Wheatley, Alf Watson and Con Murphy, who was injured during the second half.
Wakefield fielded a strong side and showed Leeds no mercy in a 71-0 rout.
The 17 tries Trinity scored remains the most conceded by Leeds in a game. It comfortably surpassed Leeds’ previous worst result, a 46-4 loss to Halifax in 1908.
It was also Trinity’s biggest win to date, outstripping a 68-7 thrashing of Bradford Northern in the 1928-29 campaign.
It is still the Leeds’ heaviest margin of defeat and they have conceded more points only once, in a 74-6 drubbing by Wigan in 1992.
Things weren’t much better three days later when Bradford Northern visited Headingley and romped to a 54-3 victory.
At the time that was the most points scored against Leeds at Headingley.
It has since been beaten by Queensland’s 58-2 victory in 1983 and Bradford Bulls;’ 56-18 success 20 years ago.
Back in 1945 Bradford scored 14 tries, but Leeds conceded only 14 points in the first half before being overrun after the break.
Stand-off Eric Hesketh scored Leeds’ only try in the Bradford debacle.
Scrum-half for both games was Johnny Feather, uncle of future Leeds legend John Holmes.