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Leeds’ first Championship win

Following the Second World War the Leeds club struggled to make a serious impact in rugby league despite having a financial advantage over the majority of its competitors.

It wasn’t until the late fifties, when the club secured its first post-war Challenge Cup victory, that the young side being built began to show signs of maturing into a dominant force in English Rugby League. Joe Warham joined the club as coach in 1958 and a Yorkshire Cup triumph followed, but the side still lacked enough quality to compete at the top of the Lancashire section of the competition in which it was then playing.

The turning point for the club came in 1960 when Dai Prosser was appointed to assist Joe with the coaching duties and the club signed a new back three of Jack Fairbank, Bryan Shaw and Dennis Goodwin to strengthen the forward pack.

In 1961, under the guidance of Prosser and Warham, Leeds finally won their first ever rugby league Championship with a 25-10 victory over Warrington. The final was played in front of 52,177 fans at Bradford’s Odsal stadium and Leeds dominated from start to finish. Led by the legendry Welshman Lewis Jones, the Loiners opened the scoring through a Jack Fairbank try which was subsequently converted by Jones. Derek Hallas then added a further two tries to put Leeds 18-0 up before Warrington hit back.

Jim Challinor touched down twice for the opposition with Laurie Gilfedder kicking both conversions. Fittingly though Jones capped a superb performance with a converted try to make the score Leeds 25 Warrington 10 and give the club it’s first ever Championship trophy.