Flashback - Lee Crooks: The day I lost my focus and allowed Wigan to claim the prize

Have your say

If you are a Wigan player looking back at ’85, you obviously think what a fantastic game and how great to be involved in such an all-time classic.

But me? Well, I just think I missed four goal kicks in a 28-24 loss and know we could have won it. People will say it must have been amazing to play in such a brilliant game but I’m not so sure.

I was really peeved afterwards – I’m pictured being consoled by officials – and do still feel it now.

You look back and there were some fantastic tries scored and it was a really open game in which I thought Peter Sterling and Steve Norton were just absolutely outstanding for our Hull side. But it’s one of those “if only” times...

The biggest thing I took out of it all was it certainly proved a real learning curve for me.

I was 21 and captaining a side at Wembley while being responsible for goalkicking, too.

The kicking didn’t really faze me at all, though, and that experience made me a lot stronger and a lot better person for it, too.

It made me more determined to never let it happen again and make the same mistakes twice.

To be fair, it never did. I went on to kick plenty of important goals in big matches and generally kicked well.

But looking back, a lot was to do with the fact I struggled to see the actual posts for whatever reason.

That sounds daft and really stupid but I think the amount of people in the background – nearly 98,000 were at Wembley that day – meant I struggled to concentrate on picking a particular post and then to aim correctly.

It’s hard to explain but I did struggle with my focus.

It got to the stage where I did just let someone else have a go but if I was in the same position again I’d have kept on kicking as I would have sorted my issues.

Having missed four, though, I decided to let Garry (Schofield) have a crack. We did have some good kickers in that Hull side with Gary Divorty, too.

Obviously most people remember that ’85 final for the great Aussie halves, Sterling for us at seven and his former Parramatta team-mate, Brett Kenny, at six with Wigan.

It was a fascinating match-up and another reason why that game had it all.

Sterlo’ just made things so easy for me in our time at Hull. It was fantastic to play with both him and ‘Knocker’ Norton.

They both played similarly but in different positions and created so much space.

Their attitude was superb and it was very much the case that when I picked out where I wanted to run, they’d make sure I got the ball .

With players of that ability, it made my life so much simpler as I didn’t have to worry about going to look for the ball; they gave me so much time in possession.

As for today’s game, I really do think Hull will do it.

Wigan are the best attacking team in the comp’ but have been beaten in three of their last four games. That clearly shows they are not invincible.

Huddersfield demonstrated exactly what you need to do. They got up and closed Wigan’s space down which prevents them from playing expansive football and narrows down Sam Tomkins’s options. For some reason – and I don’t know why – I’ve said all along I thought it’d be a Wigan v Hull final. Having watched Hull all year, I think they’ve been building up to this and they have a real resilience about them. They have targeted the Cup and very much put all their eggs in one basket.

In the Warrington semi, they defended their goalline fantastically well and did exactly the same in Perpignan, too.

They have all the steeliness and determination you need to win the Cup so, when I look at that, I know if they can tighten up their execution and not turn as much ball over, there’s no reason why they can’t.

There’s a bit of destiny flying around, too. Hull have never won at Wembley but I think that will change today.

Obviously, I’m really proud to see that my son Ben could be playing. He’s gone from thinking he’d miss out on Wembley – a massive blow – due to that ankle injury to now hopefully playing there against Wigan.

He’s worked extremely hard to get back in such a short space of time and I suppose fairytales do come true.

For him to be part of the first Hull side to ever win at Wembley, after losing there myself in ’83 and ’85, would just be the icing on the cake not just for him or me but all the Hull FC fans. They deserve it, having waited so long.

Interview by Dave Craven