This Saturday I will make the trip to see Leeds play in their first Wembley final since 1999, and hopefully achieve the same result as '99 and reverse the trend of the last three Challenge Cup Finals played "on the road" whilst the new Wembley was being built.
I should disclose that I have been to the "new" Wembley a number of times, for the recent Challenge Cup Finals and other events but Saturday will, of course, be that bit more special because I will be watching Leeds. I remember, with great fondness, that hot day in 1999 as I took my then 6 year old son to his first cup final. He has certainly been spoiled watching Leeds in his formative years compared to my experiences in the 1980s. It's quite staggering that since that 1999 Cup Final Leeds have contested eight major finals. Halcyon days indeed. Sadly, the only blot on the copy book of this champion set of players, if there is one, is the absence of a win in the Cup, despite three heroic, close calls in the intervening period.
Will that change on Saturday? Will these players add a Challenge Cup medal to their collection of Super League winner's rings? Who knows? But it clearly a matchup that is eagerly anticipated by the viewing public and the 'SOLD OUT' signs are a real boost for the sport in these difficult economic times. I am as eager and excited as I was back in 1999. The lad still comes to the rugby with me but he's now approaching 18 and won't be there on Saturday, he'll be at Leeds festival listening to some god awful band making some god awful noise that will have passed me by.
But what won't have passed me by is the emotions and excitement I shall be feeling Saturday and I will act the same way I did back in 1999 when I hope, by tea time Saturday, to be singing Rocking All Over the World again with a lump in my throat and maybe a tear on my cheek. Do you think they will play Quo at the Leeds festival?
And, finally, in the absence of any parental responsibilities this time, I might just have a sneaky extra pint or two, whilst remembering to behave respectfully and mindful of those around me, just in case McLaren_Field is reading this, the grumpy old fart.