It’s the final countdown

Josie Andrews with dog Jack
Josie Andrews with dog Jack

WARRIORS fan Mike Heyes was so excited about going to Wembley that he celebrated by nipping down to the DW Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Mike – a Warriors supporter since before he can remember – got to the stadium at 5pm on Sunday, while Wigan Athletic were playing Villareal.

But it wasn’t the football that interested him. He simply took his seat next to the ticket office and waited... for 15-and-a-half hours!

Of course, the season ticket holder was there to pick up his Challenge Cup Final ticket... and 275 others!

He said: “I run coaches to away matches, so instead of everyone coming down to get their tickets, I thought I’d shorten the queue by getting tickets for other people, who gave me their season tickets.

“I got here at 5pm and had an interesting night, but to be honest, it flew by. This way, we can all sit together in the same section, so it is worth it.”

Pal Andy Jukes joined him not long after, and the pair camped out overnight. By the time the ticket office staff opened the shutters – half an hour earlier than usual, there was a queue which wound all the way behind the stadium’s north stand.

Mike, of Ormskirk Road, added: “I’ve been to Cardiff and Murrayfield, but it isn’t the same as Wembley; not one bit, which is why so many have made sure they get their tickets. It’ll be my ninth Wembley final in total!”

Shaun Middlehurst, from Billinge, got to the ground at 4am and was surprised to see the queue had already reached the North West corner.

He said: “I can’t wait for the game, it’s about time we got back to Wembley. We thought we would be closer to the front; it’s unbelievable how early people got here.”

Friend Josie Andrews, who brought along dog Jack, kitted out in his Wigan Warriors attire, said: “It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Jack’s getting in the spirit too, we’ve had this shirt for a while now, and it’s even signed by a few of the players.”

Martin Keating arrived at the DW Stadium at 10pm on Sunday. He said: “I go everywhere, up and down the country. I’ve never been to Wembley, but my nan went every year when they got there eight times in a row.

“I just wish it was tomorrow – I’ll be counting down the days!”