Eddie Cunningham had won a Challenge Cup winner`s medal with the Saints before his little brother Kieron was even born! Eddie was signed from Wigan for a bargain fee of `£5000 in February 1975. He was immediately drafted in his familiar second row position. Eddie made 13 appearances before the end of the season helping Saints to secure the First Division Championship as they finished on top of the league a clear nine points ahead of their nearest and dearest rivals, Wigan. In those days the Champions were only issued with 17 medals and so Eddie missed out on the award.
Eddie was a very strong runner for his size. He was blessed with an amazing turn of foot and an array of evasive skills. Eddie was also very adept at offloading the ball just as he was about to be tackled. These attributes persuaded coach Eric Ashton to try him out in the centres. In the 1976 Challenge Cup Final, Eddie was one of the younger saints on view. Twelve minutes into the Final Cunningham supported a beautiful break by Billy Benyon. Eddie took a neat short pass from the veteran stand off and streaked away to plant the ball down for a lead that the Saints were never to relinquish. Eddie`s work in defence also helped to keep the Widnes outfit tryless throughout the match. Hamstring trouble kept Eddie out of the Premiership Final two weeks later as Saints completed a season`s treble by defeating the `Red Devils` of Salford by 15 points to 2.
Eddie`s attacking prowess and clinical finishing resulted in him sitting prettily on top of the club`s tryscoring chart at the end of the 1976/7 season. Eddie scorched in for 25 tries in 32 matches, including hat tricks against Hull KR, Warrington and Castleford. In the 1977 Premiership Final against Warrington the match was still up for grabs when smart play by Eddie sent Roy Mathias in for Saints` third try. Eddie then scored a blistering try himself leaving the Wire defence for dead as he raced in from forty yards. This effectively sealed the match for the Saints.
In the 1977/8 season Eddie again topped the club`s tryscoring charts with an impressive 29 tries from 39 matches. This haul included a four-try performance against Swinton with hat tricks against Huddersfield and Bramley. The 1978 Challenge Cup Final saw Eddie back at Wembley and back in the second row. In an enthralling encounter Saints raced into an early ten points lead only to be pulled back by a spirited Leeds display. Edie and his comrades had to be content with runners up medals.
The 1978/9 campaign was Eddie`s last season at Knowsley Road. Eddie returned 10 tries from 33 matches in a season that brought no trophies to the Knowsley Road Boardroom. His career try haul of 75 touchdowns from 141 outings indicates a very high strike rate especially when one considers his dual role as a centre or second row.
Eddie gained one cap for Great Britain in his time with the Saints and also represented Lancashire on one occasion. In the summer of 1979 Eddie was sold to Leeds for `£25 000. This equated to a net profit of `£20 000 and some memorable moments from one of the famous Cunningham clan.
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