Pain of defeat serves Dewsbury well to prevent any repeat performance

PICTURE FROM THE PAST: Yorkshire Cup veterans from 1983

RARE are the days when a player gets to tackle someone who played the game five decades before he did, but John Bates did just that on the eve of the 1983 Yorkshire Cup final.

Bates, the former Dewsbury second row, was one of four county cup final veterans to stop Tommy Pickup in a 'belt and braces' tackle, as our archive picture this week shows.

Pickup played for Wakefield Trinity in the Yorkshire Cup finals of 1924 and 1926 and he and Bates, along with Alan Marchant (Halifax), Trevor Foster (Bradford) and Geoff Gunney (Hunslet) were assembled on the eve of the 1983 final between Hull and Castleford for a promotional photograph at Elland Road.

"I don't remember too much about the picture, if I'm honest, but I seem to recall that the Rugby League got together players from 25 Yorkshire Cup finals and we were introduced to the crowd before the match," said Bates, a member of the only Dewsbury team to contest a Yorkshire Cup final in the post-War era.

The year was 1972 and Dewsbury, to all intents and purposes, were playing in the Yorkshire Cup as a Lancashire team – the Crown Flatt club were grouped with sides from west of the Pennines in the Championship and their only White Rose opponents in the league were Huddersfield, Hull and York.

"We played really well to reach the final, but Leeds were far too good for us, they really hammered us that day," said Bates. "They had internationals from one to 15 and they gave us a real lesson."

Unfortunately for Leeds, it was a lesson their opponents heeded and seven months after falling to a then county cup record defeat by 36-9, Dewsbury exacted sweet revenge in the Championship final, again at Odsal.

"By the time we got to the Championship final we were playing really well and a lot of that was down to our coach Tommy Smales," said Bates. "He was always working out smart moves and we were a unit."

Despite having finished eighth in the Championship, a Dewsbury side featuring the likes of Mick Stephenson, Nigel Stephenson, Allan Agar, Jeff Grayshon, John Bates and his brother Alan went on to beat the defending champions 22-13.

Leeds were not helped by captain Alan Hardisty's first career dismissal for a high tackle on John Bates.

"I know no one will ever know, but I'm certain in my own mind that we'd still have won even if Alan hadn't been sent off," said Bates, who still works as a director for Wilby's, the Heckmondwike-based building supplies and haulage firm he joined the year after Dewsbury's Championship win.

"The experience of losing that Yorkshire Cup final did us good. We knew how painful it was to get beat in a final and we didn't want that feeling again."