Johnny Whiteley to present the inaugural 1895 Cup

Hull rugby league legend Johnny Whiteley MBE will present the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening to the winners of the first final of the new tournament for non-Super League clubs.

The final, between 1998 Challenge Cup winners Sheffield Eagles and former Wembley regulars Widnes Vikings, will follow the Coral Challenge Cup Final between St Helens and Warrington Wolves.

Whiteley is one of the most revered and popular figures in the game, as a member of the last Great Britain team to earn an Ashes series victory over Australia on home soil in 1959, and the coach of the last Lions team to win an Ashes series in Australia in 1970.

He was one of three greats inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame last November – and will be joined in the Royal Box at Wembley by another of those three, Andy Gregory.

There will be more former players than ever at this year’s traditional Rugby League showpiece, as the Rugby Football League celebrates the return of the Great Britain team this autumn, and also the great history and heritage of the Challenge Cup.

All members of the Great Britain Rugby League Lions Association were invited to attend, as were all former Challenge Cup Finalists, for the first Cup Final Reunion.

More than 100 players have taken up that offer, while Whiteley and Gregory will be joined in the Royal Box by representatives of former Challenge Cup Finals – including Martin Offiah, scorer of one of the greatest Wembley tries for Wigan and a member of the London Broncos team beaten by Leeds Rhinos in the 1999 Challenge Cup Final; Ellery Hanley MBE, who won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in Wigan’s 1989 Cup Final victory over St Helens; and Malcolm Reilly OBE, who was the Lance Todd winner in Castleford’s Wembley triumph over Salford 20 years earlier.

Ray French MBE will join Whiteley in the Royal Box and in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup presentation party, after members of the RFL’s Our League app voted to name the player of the match award for the new competition in honour of the former St Helens, Widnes and Great Britain forward who went on to commentate on so many Wembley finals for the BBC.


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