Challenge Cup: Brett Kenny recalls Wigan v Hull FC final of 1985

Wigan captain Graeme West lifts the 1985 Challenge Cup

Challenge Cup final: Hull FC v Wigan Warriors

Saturday, 24 August
15:00 BST
Live coverage on BBC One HD (14:15-17:15) and BBC Sport website, live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Manchester & BBC Radio Humberside

Most rugby league followers describe it as the greatest Challenge Cup final of them all.

As the players of Wigan and Hull FC prepare to create their own piece of Wembley history in the 2013 final on Saturday, they know they have a tough act to follow.

The last time the two clubs met in rugby league's annual showpiece, under the old Twin Towers in May 1985, they produced a classic.

Wigan emerged from an enthralling encounter as 28-24 winners, with captain Graeme West ending their 20-year wait to lift the famous trophy.

Starring on that unforgettable day for the Cherry and Whites was stand-off Brett Kenny, who scored a sensational individual try and turned in a man-of-the-match display to become the first Australian to collect the Lance Todd Trophy.

Twenty-eight years on, the memories of that special occasion are still fresh for Kenny, who won four Premiership titles in Australia either side of his one-year stay in England.

"One of the biggest is just walking out onto the ground," he told BBC Sport.

"It was the old Wembley and we had nearly 100,000 people there. Back in 1985, I'd never experienced playing in front of a crowd that large before. The atmosphere was tremendous.

"I always talk to people about that game and tell them how awesome it was walking along a tunnel that seemed to go on forever.

"It was very quiet, with players thinking about what they've got to do in the game. Then suddenly you come out of the tunnel and the crowd erupts. It was a magnificent sight."

As kick-off approached, the television cameras picked out an unflustered Kenny, standing with his hands in the pockets of his red tracksuit top.

"I don't know whether Brett Kenny wants to play," said BBC commentator Ray French as the two teams lined up for the national anthem. "He doesn't look interested."

He was interested. He did want to play.

When the game finally got under way, he produced a mercurial performance that enhanced his reputation as one of the greatest players of his era. French's colleague in the commentary box, the legendary Alex Murphy, dubbed him "Mr Magic".

He was involved in four of Wigan's five tries, running in from 50 metres to score himself, creating a memorable length-of-the-field effort for winger Henderson Gill and also setting up a teenage Shaun Edwards to score under the posts.

Leading 28-12 in the second half, Wigan were cruising. But Hull, inspired by Kenny's former Parramatta team-mate Peter Sterling, came close to a stunning comeback.

"There was one instance where they scored a try, we kicked off and within the next set of six they scored again," said Kenny, now aged 52.

"A lot of the Wigan players spoke to me after the game and they said it was the first time they'd ever heard me blow up.

"I let rip at the players and mentioned the fact they'd been there [to the final] the year before and lost the game [against Widnes].

"I asked if they wanted to do that two years in a row, because these guys were going to come back even stronger."

They held on and the full-time hooter sparked wild celebrations among the Wigan players and their 40,000 supporters.

Wigan celebrate 1985 Challenge Cup final win
Wigan had waited 20 years for cup success - but would soon become kings of Wembley

Those fans would soon become accustomed to that winning feeling at Wembley, as a run of eight consecutive Challenge Cup victories followed between 1988 and 1995.

But for many in 1985, it was a new and exciting experience.

They had waited two decades to taste cup success again, while Hull KR and St Helens had pipped them in the league that season, so they were determined to enjoy the occasion when the team returned to Wigan with a new piece of silverware.

"We got back to Central Park [Wigan's former home] and walked out onto the balcony, and when you looked down at the ground you couldn't see a blade of grass," recalled Kenny, who scored 19 tries in just 25 appearances for the club.

"They hadn't won a final for such a long time and you could see the appreciation they had to the team for what we were able to achieve.

"My parents were over at the time and I had to take them to the airport on that day we got back to Wigan. We had to have a police escort to get out of the town because we couldn't get through. There were that many people around."

Kenny, who now works for a gaming company in his native Australia, takes more than a passing interest in Wigan's fortunes these days, especially as his

He is still revered by Wigan fans, despite spending just one season with the club, and the same legendary status awaits any Warriors player who can recreate Kenny's heroics of 1985.

Brett Kenny was speaking to BBC Sport's Phil Kinsella.

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