CRAIG Halstead (50), a lifelong Roughyeds fan, will represent Oldham RLFC on the pitch at Wembley before the 2016 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final between Hull and Warrington Wolves on Saturday, August 27.
He will be in a fans’ choir, formed by a supporter from each of 32 clubs, which will sing the traditional Wembley hymn, ‘Abide With Me’ — another ‘first’ for rugby league thanks to the BBC ‘Songs of Praise’ team.
A special edition of ‘Songs of Praise’, following the choir’s journey, will be broadcast on BBC 1 the day after the cup final, which will feature a Warrington side that beat Oldham at Bower Fold in a sixth-round tie in May following the Roughyeds’ headline-grabbing 36-22 triumph at Hull KR in round five.
Said Craig, who travels from his home in Bangor, North Wales, to support the Roughyeds: “I watched my first Oldham game aged five, and I’ve been supporting them ever since. It will mean the world to me to sing my favourite hymn in my favourite stadium as a representative of my favourite club — second only perhaps to seeing an Oldham captain lift the Cup one day.
“I wouldn’t claim to be the best singer in the choir, but there’ll be a few like me with little singing experience. Aled Jones, who comes from Bangor like my wife Yvonne, will sort us out.”
In his book, ‘From Watersheddings to Whitebank‘, published by London League Publications last year, Craig wrote about Oldham’s many semi-final failures on the road to Wembley and what it would have meant to generations of local people to watch Roughyeds at Wembley and to sing ‘Abide With Me’ before the game.
* Half-price tickets for this year’s final are on sale from Oldham RLFC’s office at Whitebank — £35 tickets for £17.50 and £25 concessionary tickets for £12.50, these for 16s and under, 65s and over, members of the Military and students, both with valid ID.
The office is open from 9.30am to 1.30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; from 9.30am to 3pm on Wednesdays; and from 9.30am to 4pm on Fridays.