It was always going to be a sure bet that Dave Morton’s dedication to his beloved Wigan Warriors would pay off.
For the 46-year-old mortgage advisor has twice won a race against time to make it to the Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
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And now lucky father-of-three Dave is celebrating after winning £1,000 after being named the title sponsors’ first ‘Super Fan’.
Betfred are choosing 10 ‘Super Fans’ in total during the season, and will then pick the sport’s overall top fan, who will win a further £10,000.
Around 1,000 supporters were nominated in total with not that shy Dave, from Dicconson Street, Wigan, putting forward his own name!
It was back in 2003 when his then wife Diana was about to give birth.
He explained: “She was three days overdue so I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to the semi-final at Leeds so all the family came round to watch the game on TV. They came to ours because they’re too tight to pay for Sky, and we had a takeaway.
“It was the game when Brian Carney’s long-range try clinched it by one point.
“I thought that stress would have brought on the baby but it didn’t. I thought everything would be okay and the baby would be born before the Grand Final eight days later, so I forked out for a ticket to Old Trafford.
“By the Saturday of the game the baby was 10 days overdue and she went into now defunct Billinge hospital on the Friday.
“I couldn’t have a beer or anything on the Friday night and about eight in the morning on the day of the final I was making some breakfast and had bacon on the grill.
“It was then when I got the call to go to the hospital. I remember all the times and everything because it was the only time I’ve ever wasted bacon!
“I drove like crazy for five miles or so and then Rachael was born weighing 6lb 15oz at 12.36pm. I was still in the maternity suite at three in the afternoon, making sure they were both okay, and then under an hour later I suggested my wife should have a sleep, which she thankfully agreed.
“I suggested it would have been a waste of a Grand Final ticket and she just nodded and mumbled it would be okay if I went. It was a massive relief and guess what I had my Wigan shirt in the car, just in case!
“I parked up near the ground, which cost me £15, and there was an hour to go. I tried to find my friends from the Wigan Riversiders amateur rugby league club, but couldn’t so I got myself a brandy which cost another £5 to toast my new born baby daughter on my own.
“Bradford beat us 25-12 and when I went back to the hospital and they wouldn’t let me in because it had gone past visiting time. The first thing I told my wife when she came to the entrance to see me was that we had lost the game.”
Dave, who plays as hooker for the Riversiders, has a habit of adding a bit of off-pitch drama on Grand Final day.
For only last season he was on holiday in Spain and flew back a day early, arriving back at Manchester Airport, three hours before the 6pm kick-off where of course Wigan beat Warrington.
Daughter Rachael, now a 15-year-old pupil of St John Fisher High School in Wigan, is like dad a big Warriors supporter.
She said: “He’s always repeating the story of how I was born just in time for him to see that game in 2003.
“It doesn’t surprise me he didn’t want to miss the match. He’s not really won £1,000 pounds but £950, because he’s given me £50, which I’m going to spend on clothes.”
Dave has been a Wigan supporter since he was “passed over the turnstile” by his own dad at the then home of the Warriors, Central Park.
He even has a specially commissioned leaded glass Warriors crest over his front door, and keeps replica shirts from bygone seasons … but pride of place in his collection is the 2003 shirt, which he wore on the day his team lost - but despite the result it’s a never forgotten day as Rachael made her well-timed entrance into the world.
Betfred boss Fred Done said: “The loyalty shown by rugby league fans is insurmountable and Dave’s determination to get to the Grand Final epitomises this.
“Congratulations to our first winner of this competition. You couldn’t have a worthier recipient.
“And it will be interesting to see whether his passion for the sport is topped as we hunt down Betfred Super League’s fan of the season.”