FOR some time on Saturday afternoon, it looked like the Wembley Stadium disc jockey had got it spot on.

At the end of the first half of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final, York City Knights trailed Featherstone Rovers 22-10. As the sides came out to get the second 40 underway, Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ blasted out over the speakers.

Inspirational? Or cruelly ironic? At alternating moments in the capital, it was one and then the other before York had the last say in the 41-34 loss.

After the uncertainty surrounding Featherstone’s Covid tests was cleared, all that remained for Knights fans was the thrill of a first Wembley visit in living memory - and the nerves that always come with a cup final.

On top of that, the Knights were about to line up against the Betfred Championship’s form team, who are kept off the top of the table, perversely, by dint of having played (and won) more than leaders Toulouse.

But this was a cup final, and anything could happen.

“I’m excited but apprehensive,” said Bob Gault as he and a group of friends awaited the 7.38am from York to King’s Cross. “We’re either going to get hammered or pull off a surprise.”

In the end, it was neither, and York City Knights can hold their heads up in the knowledge that this was no capitulation. Featherstone are some outfit this year and the Knights went into the game on a dreadful run of form.

And the 13-try ding-dong affair could hardly have been a better curtain-raiser to the Challenge Cup final, which St Helens - with former Knight Joe Batchelor in the starting 13 - won 26-12 against Castleford Tigers.

There was a healthy smattering of the Super League pair’s supporters dotted around the sunny stadium to watch the Knights come close to battling back.

With two massive games on the cards, rugby league had London abuzz at the weekend. The night before the double-header, London Skolars played Doncaster and welcomed a healthy mix of Knights, Rovers, Saints and Cas colours as well as those from the two League One clubs. On the day, intermingling supporters from all four sides knocked up a carnival atmosphere along Wembley Way.

The handheld hooters and roars showed up in the stadium 20 minutes before kick off. A strong turn-out - somewhere in the region of 4,000 between York and Fev, plus supporters of Saints and Cas - was dwarfed by the enormity of Wembley.

Still, the sound carried impressively, and when the first hooter arrived, you knew about it.

Kieran Dixon must have had a horrible sense of deja vu in the build-up to to Rovers’ first try. The full-back had a handling horror show in the 2015 Challenge Cup final for Hull KR and he fumbled a grubber kick on Saturday to give Fev territory. He did enough to hold up the first try attempt but once Dane Chisholm got up a head of steam on the next play, he was not a man to be stopped.

York came back strongly and Mikey Lewis showed why James Ford has been so keen to have him back in Knights colours. He had the space and composure to change direction in possession and pick out the fantastic Ben Jones-Bishop in the corner with a delightful kick.

And clinical Featherstone, after a couple of defensive sets, went further ahead on their very next attack through Craig Kopczak - only for the Knights to narrow the gap again with Marcus Stock burrowing over.

In the space of five minutes, though, the game seemed to have got away from York. First, Jacob Doyle benefited from an overload on the left wing to cross unopposed before John Davies shrugged off Jason Bass and teed up Nu Brown.

Yet remarkably, within 10 minutes of the second half kicking off, York were right back in it.

The tenacious Lewis forced the issue after a York set looked over and done with, winning the Knights possession back. Kriss Brining went over - and was probably hugely fortunate no video referee was there to rule out his try.

Lewis then gave the York faithful a scare when, chasing a loose ball, he went down clutching his right ankle. But he had done enough to put off the covering Featherstone back and Jason Bass scampered away to cross under the posts.

By the hour mark, though, York looked dead and buried. They had not been level for long before Fev inched ahead with a penalty, then ran in three unanswered tries through Doyle, James Harrison and Craig Hall.

But Robins loanee Lewis was not finished with his vivacious attacking display and he got his name on the scoreboard as the clocked ticked past 70 minutes, doing well to find the one gap in the blue and white wall to touch down.

In a two-score game - especially the way this one was going - York could not be counted out, and Chisholm all but made sure his side would lift the trophy by putting over a one-pointer.

With two minutes to go, York were still not done and Perry Whiteley picked off a Brett Ferres pass before running the length of the field and crossing under the posts.