Isle of Cherry and Wight

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WEMBLEY will be packed with 30,000 Wiganers this Saturday but not all of them will be making the pilgrimage from the North West ...

Colin Bond left the town for the Isle of Wight way back in 1972 for seasonal work but loved it so much that he made the moved permanent.

He’s lived there ever since with wife Helen but – as well as family and friends – there has always been one thing in particular which has ensured he kept in touch with his roots.

Colin is a lifelong Wigan rugby fan and so infectious is his enthusiasm that a number of his neighbours on the island are now converts to the cherry and white cause too.

The 66-year-old only just hung up his boots from his amateur team on the isle last year.

But Colin, along with six friends, will take the boat across to the mainland this Saturday for the big game.

A regular at Challenge Cup finals, he can’t wait to cheer on his time.

“All the lads around here are into both rugby union and league,” said Colin, who lived in Beech Hill and Worsley Mesnes.

“I used to play for Orrell back in Wigan and then signed for a team over here. I only finished last year.

“There are seven of us going. I fancy our chances but we will have to improve on recent form.”

Colin and Helen have been showing off the club’s colours in their back garden which overlooks the sea.

They’ve decorated a mannequin in cherry and white and say everyone on the island is getting right behind the side.

Colin has attended many a Challenge Cup final over the years and last year was in particularly good rugby league company.

He said: “We took ex-Leigh player Terry Bilsbury to the game with us and made him wear a Wigan shirt.

“He was spotted by some Leythers though and he ended up taking it off!

“I go to the final every year so it’s always extra special when Wigan get there.”

l Wigan Warriors have announced details of their send-off for Wembley on Thursday.

The players will leave the DW Stadium at noon after an informal brunch with family and friends in Rigaletto’s. Fans are asked to arrive from 11.15am.

Coach Shaun Wane said: “It would be great to see as many fans as possible at the stadium on Thursday to give this group of players a massive send-off for the final.”