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HomeNewsBramley RL archives: Why 1961-62 was a golden season for the Villagers 

Bramley RL archives: Why 1961-62 was a golden season for the Villagers 

By Paul Abraham

Following the rugby league’s decision to have two divisions from the 1962/63 season, Bramley knew they would have to improve on the 22nd place (and 11pts off the 16th position) they had finished in the 1960/61 season.  

The target was that the top 16 teams in the league table at the end of the 61/62 season would be given First Division status.

Bramley kicked off the season with an impressive 20-5 home victory against Rochdale Hornets with full-back Johnny Wilson kicking seven goals in what would be a record-breaking season for him.

The next six matches provided Bramley with just two draws, away at Halifax and at home to Keighley, and four defeats including a 15-36 reversal at York in the First Round of the Yorkshire Cup. Interestingly this would be the most points conceded in a match by Bramley throughout the season. The first six games brought Wilson 17 goals and Wrigglesworth three tries.

Two hard-earned victories at home to Liverpool City (13-8) and at Dewsbury (10-5) was followed by defeats at Featherstone and at Barrow with a 24-7 home win against Castleford sandwiched in between.

Bramley then hit a purple patch, winning five and drawing one (2-2 at Doncaster) of their next six matches, including a spectacular 22-10 home victory against reigning Rugby League Champions Leeds, with Johnny Wilson kicking 8 goals.

Other teams put to the sword were Batley (26-6), Hunslet (8-3) Dewsbury (15-7) and Barrow (11-7) all being played at the Barley Mow ground.

Wilson now had 62 goals to his name, with Stone and Wrigglesworth leading the Bramley try-scoring list with five tries each. After 16 league matches, Bramley had the impressive record of 9 wins, 3 draws and just four defeats – dreams of the First Division were now entering the loyal Bramley supporter’s thoughts.

Two defeats on Humberside followed, 9-29 at Hull and a tight 10-16 at Rovers. Three penalties by Johnny Wilson gave Bramley a 6-0 home victory, before a trip to York brought another defeat. February started with a 12-5 home victory against the Gallant Youths of Batley before Bramley crashed out at the first round of the Rugby League Challenge Cup with a 6-34 defeat at Headingley against Leeds.

A 6-20 home defeat against Top-four challengers Featherstone Rovers was followed by Bramley taking 5 points from their next three games, all of which were away, Rochdale (14-14) Liverpool City (9-2) and Hunslet (12-5) the Hunslet match providing a memorable highlight with fan favourite Dave Horn scoring a try.

Wakefield (eventually finishing joint table-toppers with Wigan) inflicted an 11-25 defeat for Bramley at the Barley Mow, before three days later Doncaster gained a shock 2-8 away victory.  Bramley were now battling to remain in the top sixteen with their main challengers being Hull, Halifax, Warrington, Castleford and Leigh.

A victory at home to Hull (16-8) got Bramley back on track with Horn scoring again and Wilson adding another five goals. This result kicked Bramley on and played some of their best free-flowing rugby of the season when winning 28-2 at Odsal, which included Wilson’s 100th goal of the season for Bramley and followed that up with a 31-9 home win against Whitehaven and then defeating Bradford 18-5, the last three games seeing Wrigglesworth going over for four tries in total.  

Away defeats at Leeds (5-10) and Keighley (6-32) over Easter got the Bramley supporters worried, but two magnificent home victories against Hull KR (27-16) and York (23-16) made the 7-16 defeat at Castleford in between irrelevant. The last match of the season against York saw Johnny Wilson kick his 130th Bramley goal of the season and create a landmark that would not be overtaken for 30 years.  

Stand-off Wrigglesworth ended with 14 tries for the season and was followed by Scrum-half Quinn on 9 and Centre Stone with eight. Jim Hainsworth was the side’s only ever-present which would eventually take him to the still standing club record of 100 consecutive appearances.

A Leeds City Combined team played the New Zealand touring team and included the Bramley quartet of Wilson (who kicked three goals), Wrigglesworth, Kennedy and Hainsworth. The tourists winning 24-9.

To commemorate the team’s achievement, the Leeds-based bookmaker and successful businessman Jim Windsor had gold medals minted to be awarded to each team member as recognition of an amazing achievement in reaching the First Division.  

Bramley finished 13th and had a league record of played 36, won 19, drew 4 and lost 13.


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