Young Skolar Gets to Wembley

Young Skolar Alex Pentecost (third player from right) got his feet on the hallowed turf at Wembley during Saturday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup Final. His cup winning victory lap will have to wait however as Alex was one of 16 Liontrust London Junior League players to feature as a ball boy at Rugby League’s showpiece occasion.

Alex is part of the Skolars’ under 14 age group and was selected from 5 Skolars that were nominated by the club on Ian Ramsdale’s BBC London 94.9 London Rugby League Show. Alex, who plays hooker, has played with the club for 2 seasons and is the son of the 2012 Skolars Clubman of the Year, Fred Pentecost.

Community Manager Paul Thorman said, “It was a wonderful honour for Alex to feature as a ball boy for the Challenge Cup Final. It was a fitting reward for him given his performance over the last two years at the club and I’m sure he will remember the occasion forever.”

Following a hugely successful Friday Night Lights, both on and off the pitch, we thought it would be good to share a few pictures from the evening’s events, taken by club photographer Gary Baker.

The presence of the TV cameras, and a larger than average crowd, created a great atmosphere for the main match to be played in and our ever enthusiastic cheerleaders, the London Eclipse, couldn’t have worked harder to entertain the crowd.

We hope you enjoy the pictures. Just click on the thumbnails below to view.

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Skolars pulled off an impressive win against promoted Whitehaven and moved back into the play-off spots with one game remaining. However, they will need to beat Doncaster next weekend if they are to stay ahead of Oldham and North Wales. A win would also deny Doncaster the Championship 1 title.

Two early penalties saw Skolars gain ground and Neil Thorman slipped over from dummy half to open the scoring. Whitehaven came straight back, forcing a goal line drop out after which Jamie Rooney went over from dummy half. They gained a second drop out when John Paxton caught the ball as it was going into touch, the third time this season Skolars have fallen foul of the new rule.

It didn’t prove costly as a Rooney pass was intercepted by Dylan Skee. He didn’t have the pace to make a break, but Smokie Junor had lots of it a few minutes later and it took a superb cover tackle from Lewis Palfrey to stop the youngster, dislodging the ball as well.

Whitehaven nearly had the chance to take the lead when Rooney kicked deep on the first tackle. Craig Calvert led the chase but the video referee adjudged that he’d just gone into touch a foot from the tryline. Skolars then took the initiative with two tries. Lamont Bryan forced his way through the defence five metres from the line to score, then Skee scored with a diagonal run to the line. That came just after Matthew Haggerty had one of the shortest ever spells on the field, a clash of heads in his first tackle saw him and Michael Sykes go off for repairs.

Rooney’s kick-off found touch 10 metres from the try-line, but an obstruction put paid to the attack. But when a Skee cross-field kick was taken by Craig Calvert there was no stopping him running the length of the field to narrow the margin to six points just before the break.

Haven were held up over the line twice in one set of six with Paul Cullnean and Lee Doran both being denied by a determined Skolars’ defence. The home side was lifted when Brad Hopkins took a Skee pass at speed to score down the left in the quiet but effective way that the young Australian has established himself as Skolar’s leading try scorer this season.

In the next set Skee launched a 40-20 and from the resultant possession Rob Thomas crashed through the defence to the delight of the home support. He made another soon afterwards, but chose not to pass to Austen Aggrey and got caught by Palfrey. Two Skee penalties and a Thorman drop goal put Skolars 23 points ahead, but they had to withstand a late burst from the visitors.

A Rooney crossfield kick found Loz Hamzat unopposed to touchdown in the corner. Two minutes later the otherwise anonymous Jessie Joe Parker drew the defence in before offloading to Calvert to score on the left wing. Rudd appeared to rush his conversion and did so again after Rooney finished off a Palfrey break. But that still left the margin at just nine points and the sizeable travelling contingent really got behind their side,

However, when Dave Williams intercepted a Haven pass and then Rob Thomas made another good run, Skolars were where they wanted to be. Dave Arnot and Thorman combined for McLean to score on the right earning the biggest cheer of the night from Skolars’ largest crowd of the season. Skee kicked his eighth goal of the night. Two years ago a 20 point haul in a game would have equalled the club record, but it’s the fourth time he’s scored that or more in the last five games. He won the Players’ Player award sponsored by Laurent Perrier. Lamont Bryan won Skolars’ Man of The Match award sponsored by The Mall, Wood Green Shopping City and was also the Premier TV Man of the Match.



1 James Anthony

2 John Paxton

3 Joe Price

4 Dave Arnot

5 Smokie Junor

6 Andy McLean

7 Dylan Skee

8 Olly Purslow

9 Neil Thorman

10 David Williams

11 Brad Hopkins

12 Matt Thomas

13 James Roche


Subs (all used)

14 Ron Thomas

15 Michael Sykes

16 Martyn Smith

17 Austen Aggrey


Tries: Thorman (2), Bryan (29), Skee (32), Hopkins (49), R Thomas (51), McLean (78)

Goals: Skee 8/8

Drop-goal: Thorman



1 Lewis Palfrey

2 Craig Calvert

3 Max Wiper

4 Jessie Joe Parker

5 Loz Hamzat

6 Jamie Rooney

7 Carl Rudd

8 Dave Houghton

9 Tom Hemmingway

10 Paul Cullnean

11 Richard Varkulis

12 Martyn Wilson

13 Lee Doran


Subs (all used)

14 Andreas Bauer

15 Luke Isakka

16 Andrew Beattie

17 Matthew Haggarty


Tries: Rooney (7,73), Calvert (36,71), Hamzat (69)

Goals: Rudd 2/4, Rooney 1/1


Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match

Skolars:  Dylan Skee

Haven: Craig Calvert


Penalty count: 9-8


Half-time: 18-12

Referee: Warren Turley

Attendance: 1,174


SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 6-6, 6-12, 12-12, 12-18, 12-24, 18-24, 24-24, 24-30, 28-30, 34-30, 34-36, 40-36, 46-36, 48-36, 50-36, 56-36


The RFL has today announced that five of Rugby League’s greatest heroes will be represented in the statue which will celebrate the sport’s long and proud association with Wembley Stadium.

The public work of art at Wembley will incorporate the five players who featured in the final shortlist: Billy Boston, Eric Ashton, Martin Offiah, Gus Risman and Alex Murphy.

All five were shortlisted following a public vote and a process involving a number of specially-convened selection panels comprising fans, Rugby League journalists, coaches, players, national newspaper editors and MPs.

The final decision to involve all five players in an artistic interpretation which captures the spirit of Rugby League at Wembley was made by the RFL Board of Directors and announced at the national stadium on Thursday.

RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said the Board believed the group representation would be the perfect way to highlight the sport’s glorious association and celebrated history with Wembley Stadium.

“The RFL Board’s view echoed that of the many thousands of people who were involved in the selection process in that the statue needed to be a group representation,” said Wood

“So many players have contributed to the rich history of the sport and its association with Wembley and the Board were keen that that should be reflected in the statue.

“Having Risman, Boston, Ashton, Murphy and Offiah all part of the statue means that every generation of the sport is celebrated.

“We will continue the theme of representing the whole sport and its achievements by using the plinth on which the statue will stand as creatively as possible.”

Rugby League is the second sport to be recognised at Wembley alongside football legend Bobby Moore, the captain of the winning England team from the 1966 World Cup final whose statue is the only other work of public art at the stadium.

The sculpture will be commissioned with a view to unveiling it at Wembley prior to the Rugby League World Cup 2013 semi-final double-header at the stadium next November.

Rugby League has been associated with Wembley for over 80 years with the first Challenge Cup final played at the stadium in 1929.  Since then some of the sport’s greatest moments have taken place at the venue, including Martin Offiah’s stunning length-of-the-field dash in 1994 which remains etched into the minds of all who witnessed it.

WNSL Managing Director Roger Maslin said: “Wembley Stadium is inextricably linked with Rugby League and most specifically the Challenge Cup.

“At Wembley Stadium we constantly strive to inspire memories and the players being honoured today have undoubtedly given their supporters and the wider sporting public as a whole plenty of memories to cherish.

“It is a fitting tribute that a statue is to be erected in honour of their endeavours but also highlights the history that Rugby League and Wembley Stadium shares.”

Martin Offiah was shocked to find out that he would have some involvement in the final make-up of the statue.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news, I was in total shock,” he said. “I’ve said from the beginning that I’d be proud to support a Rugby League statue at Wembley, no matter whom or what it was.

“But to know that I will be part of the statue is very special. This sits alongside anything that I achieved in my playing career. I’m immensely proud.”

Alex Murphy, who captained three different sides at the iconic venue and has an unbeaten record at the stadium as both player and coach, was honoured to even be considered for the Rugby League statue, let alone be part of the work of art.

“I was humbled to be in the same list as Risman, Boston, Ashton and Offiah and to be considered for the statue at Wembley,” said Murphy.

“But to have some involvement in the final outcome of the statue is overwhelming and quite emotional for me. Wembley is a very special venue.

“A match at Wembley is the most important in a player’s career, no matter what nationality, you always dream of playing at Wembley. So to have a statue representing the history of Rugby League at the stadium is a great accolade for the sport.”

Offiah, Murphy and Billy Boston all attended today’s announcement with Bev Risman representing his late father Gus and Eric Ashton’s daughters, Michelle Huyton and Beverley Smith, and granddaughter Victoria Smith attending on behalf of their late father and grandfather.

Billy Boston said he was “deeply moved” to learn that his playing exploits with Wigan and Great Britain were to be celebrated in the statue.

“It’s a wonderful honour and privilege. I’m deeply moved that there’s going to be a statue of me outside Wembley alongside Gus, Alex, Martin and Eric and that people will look on us all as they do Bobby Moore,” said Boston, who played six times at Wembley, winning on three occasions.

“There is no finer venue anywhere in the world. It’s a fabulous stadium and it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every year when I come to watch matches here.”

The achievements of the five players who will be represented on the Wembley statue are as follows:

Billy Boston

Billy Boston was a prolific try-scorer during his career with Wigan and Blackpool Borough, the Welsh flier lit up Wembley on six occasions, winning three Challenge Cups. A member of the RL Hall of Fame, Boston scored 478 tries in 485 games for Wigan.

Eric Ashton

Eric Ashton was the first person to win the Challenge Cup as a captain, coach and chairman, Ashton spent his entire playing career at Wigan, scoring 231 tries and 448 goals in 497 appearances. Three Challenge Cup victories, an Ashes success and a World Cup triumph ensured he cemented his reputation as one of the greatest players in Rugby League history.

Martin Offiah

‘Chariots’ is already celebrated at Wembley with a bar named after him in recognition of the wonder try he scored in the 1994 Challenge Cup final against Leeds, when he brought the stadium to its feet on an 80-metre run. He won four Challenge Cup finals with Wigan and represented Great Britain on 33 occasions.

Gus Risman

Gus Risman spent 27 seasons involved in the sport, steered his beloved Workington Town to victory in the Championship in 1951 and to a famous Challenge Cup victory at Wembley in 1952, becoming the oldest ever Cup winner at the age of 41. During a career with Salford, Workington and Batley, he established career records which place him second in terms of all-time appearances with 873, third in terms of points scored with 4,052 and fifth in terms of goal kicked with 1,678.

Alex Murphy

Alex Murphy captained three different clubs at Wembley – St Helens, Leigh and Warrington – and is still held in high esteem by fans of all three clubs. A precocious talent, Murphy was outstanding for Great Britain, with whom he collected 27 caps.

The RFL has already held discussions with celebrated artists and sculptors and will make a commission in the coming weeks

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