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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February 2004, 20:35 GMT
Cup heroes: Eric Ashton
The first time you ever play at Wembley is the most enjoyable and the one visit that really sticks in your memory
Eric Ashton
Eric Ashton has captained, coached and been the chairman of a Challenge Cup-winning team.

It's an amazing statistic, one that is unlikely to be equalled, but in which capacity did Ashton derive the most pleasure?

There is no doubt in his mind. Nothing beats playing in a winning Cup final team.

"Even if you eventually coach a side or become a winning club's chairman, the greatest thrill and excitement is as a

player," he tells BBC Sport.

Ashton skippered a record six teams at Wembley, captaining Wigan on each occasion.

The win over Workington in 1958 obviously ranks highly for the very fact that it was his first Wembley success.

"The first time you ever play at Wembley is the most enjoyable time and the one visit that really sticks in your memory," he admits.

"You approach that first game with great anticipation and you don't quite know what to expect."

But he says the last of his three wins as Wigan captain, when he was also the coach, holds a special place in his heart.

"The win over Hunslet in 1965 probably gave me the most satisfaction of all my wins at Wembley," he says.

ASHTON FACTFILE
As captain: Wigan in 1958 (w), 1959 (w), 1961 (l), 1963 (l), 1965 (w) and 1966 (l)
As player-coach: Wigan in 1965 (w) and 1966 (l)
As coach: Wigan in 1970 (l); Saints in 1976 (w) and 1978 (l)
As chairman: Saints in 1996 (w) and 1997 (w)

"Not only have you personally helped win the cup but you have also helped the team triumph by virtue of your coaching ability.

"When I was just a coach, I was probably more nervous of the outcome.

"In my day, once the team had taken the field, there was little a coach could do.

"There were no walkie-talkies in those days for a coach to communicate with the water carriers or his assistant. A coach relied on his captain.

"As coach of St Helens in 1976, I had a good captain in Kel Coslett. He was a very steady player and one who rarely ever took the wrong decision.

"Kel could always be relied upon to carry out any instructions and make sure the team did as we wanted.

A captain was a far more important person on a field than he is today
Eric Ashton

"In those days, a captain was a far more important person on a field than he is today, when the coach controls all aspects of the play from his position in the stand.

"When I walked out as chairman of St Helens in 1996 and 1997, it was a marvellous feeling to know you were in charge of - and responsible for - everything at the club.

"But the pressure on you was at its greatest because you had to think of the financial outcome, the discipline of the players and the fans as well as the image of the club.

"Everything rested on your shoulders.

"However, it was still a wonderful feeling to walk out of the tunnel at Wembley in charge of your club."





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