Fox rules the roost as Wakefield ease past Hull

WEMBLEY'S reputation as a venue where players often come of age on the biggest stage of all has never been more deserved than it was when a young man named Neil Fox announced his arrival as one of the sport's all-time greats in spectacular style.

The youngest of the three Fox brothers had already made his debut for Great Britain before taking to the Wembley pitch in the red, white and blue of Wakefield Trinity against Hull on May 14, 1960.

Just 10 days after celebrating his 21st birthday, Fox delivered a magnificent performance to book his place in the rugby league record books with two tries and seven goals as Wakefield romped to a 38-5 victory.

The only consolation for Hull, who had been beaten 30-13 by Wigan at Wembley the year before, was that a heroic effort from their hooker Tommy Harris denied Fox the Lance Todd Trophy, an award the centre was to collect two years later in a 12-6 defeat of Huddersfield.

Wakefield led just 7-5 at half-time in 1960 but Hull, who were able to field just five of their 1959 Cup final team because of a devastating series of injuries, were swamped following the restart as Wakefield, led by the majestic Fox, turned on the style to give captain Derek Turner the opportunity to receive the Challenge Cup from the Queen, the monarch's first appearance in the rugby league final.

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"I was nervous at Wembley but no more than for any other big game," Fox once recalled.

"Other players in the Trinity team were much more affected by the match and the day than me because I had experienced other major matches.

"Wembley had not been enclosed totally with stand roofs at that stage, but I don't really think that made any difference to my goal-kicking. Like the rest of the Trinity team I was just so confident that we would win the Cup and played my normal game."

In a timely parallel with this season, the two teams had met just two weeks before the final with Wakefield having gained a confidence-boosting 24-4 victory in a Championship semi-final.

Hull, who beat Wakefield 26-18 in Super League earlier this month, will be hoping history maintains its tendency to repeat itself when they play Wakefield in Sunday's Challenge Cup semi-final.

For all the one-sided nature of the final, the match was not without significance.

From a statistical perspective, Fox's 20-point haul was an individual record in the competition, a feat equalled by Iestyn Harris for Leeds in 1999, and the 38-5 scoreline was the biggest winning score in Cup history until St Helens beat Bradford 40-32 in 1996.

The match also saw Hull's 22-year-old Mike Smith become the only player in Challenge Cup history to make his first team debut in the final as a late call-up for the injured Bill Drake.