Hull FC legend Lee Crooks believes his old club will close a painful chapter in their history to rest when they play Wigan Warriors in the 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24 (3.00pm).
Hull have never lifted the Challenge Cup at Wembley, their last two defeats coming in 2008 and 1985, when Crooks played at prop in the side defeated 28-24 in what is still regarded as the greatest final of all time.
However the former Great Britain forward is confident that record will be brought to an end next weekend and that some of the world’s most passionate supporters will be in full voice singing the club’s song ‘Old Faithful’ as a trophy adorned with black and white ribbons is taken on a lap of honour.
“I really do think this is Hull’s year, they’re a team which has what it takes to win on the greatest stage of all,” said Crooks.
“The old cliché of ‘anything can happen on the day’ rings true, of course, but that’s not to say anyone should be shocked should this group of players achieve what no Hull team has been able to do in the past.
“Wigan are a high quality side and will rightly start as favourites but as we saw in the semi-final win against Warrington, Hull have the ability, the hunger and the resolve to win big games.
“They will need to execute better than they have been this season – if they hand over as much ball as they did against Warrington then Wigan will punish them – but their fate is in their own hands.
“Few of the players will be unaware of the weight of expectation on their shoulders from the followers of a club who have been disappointed so many times at Wembley but I don’t think it will be an issue for any of them: records are there to be broken and history is there to be made.”
Hull will be without one of their main strike players at Wembley with Ben Crooks, Lee’s 20-year-old son, sitting out the final with a leg injury. His absence is frustrating for father and son but Crooks Snr feels there is ample talent within the rest of the squad to cope.
“Speaking as an ‘impartial’ observer, not as Ben’s dad, I think it’s fair to say that a player who has scored 20 tries already this season would be missed by any club,” said Crooks.
“It’s tough on Ben but it’s up to players like Kirk Yeaman, Tom Briscoe and Joe Arundel to rise to the challenge. I think they will do just that.”
Crooks is predicting that Hull will win the game by between four and six points – “If you pushed me to predict the score I’d go for 19-14” – and is looking towards Daniel Holdsworth of Hull as the leading contender for the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match.
“If Daniel brings his field kicking boots then I think he can kick Wigan’s Cup hopes to death,” he added.
Tickets for the 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final are still selling strongly and fans are advised to move quickly to secure the best possible seat for what is expected to be a class Wembley final.
Tickets can be purchased direct via the Hull FC club shop, Wigan Warriors ticket hotline on 0871 6633 552 or through the RFL ticket office direct at www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or 0844 856 1113.
For people with any form of disability the RFL offers a free assistant place when booking tickets. For people with a visual impairment or non-sighted disability we also offer audio visual descriptive commentary for all our events.