As in common with one another, we have all been delighted to have received messages of congratulations and wishes of good luck for Saturday, over the heady few days since our emphatic victory over last season’s Champions, Wigan, in the second semi-final.
Among those which I have been pleased to receive have been several from those icons of the halcyon days of the sixties and seventies, all of whom are sharing the same intensity of emotions as ourselves.
JOHN BUTLER – Centre in the late 70s
What a tremendous result, last Friday. I never thought I would see us in this position again, and just feel overwhelmed. I am also so pleased for all the supporters who have stuck with the club through thick and thin. Ian Watson and his players have done a tremendous job and I feel so proud of them all, but a job is never done ‘til it’s done, though I know they don’t need me to tell them that.
I hope it all goes well on Saturday, especially for the fans who have always been so loyal to the club, and it’s great that their loyalty has been rewarded. Now all we can do is just hope the lads can pull it off.
MIKE COULMAN – Second Rower / Prop Forward from late sixties through to early 80s
I am totally enthralled by what is now happening at Salford after all these years, both for those involved in the club on a day-by-day basis, and also for the rest of us, the fans. When I learned the result of the semi-final against Wigan, and that we had made the Grand Final, I was completely ecstatic. The performance the team put in, on the night, is also something to be applauded.
As the day of the game gets nearer, I am getting more and more excited about it, and just hope that we can pull it off.
DOUG DAVIES – Loose Forward / Prop in early 70s
Even though I was brought up in Widnes, Salford are MY team, even after all these years, and I am over the moon that they have done so well. I had taken my wife out for a meal last Friday and the game was on the TV in the backroom, and I spent most of the evening in there watching the match. When your mind is behind a team you live every moment alongside them.
I thought that they were extremely well organised and knew fully, everything they had to do. Like us, back in the seventies, we all had our jobs to do and we did them. The lads on Friday were exactly the same and I was almost wishing that I could have been playing again, alongside them, so efficiently were they operating.
Most important of all was you could clearly see just how much it meant to them, and just how much they were enjoying it. Enjoying the game on Saturday is paramount to everything.
KEITH FIELDING – Winger & ‘Superstar’ from mid 70s to early 80s
It has been a great season throughout, and it’s really good to have seen them in the middle order, winning more than they were losing. To end up making the top five was an achievement in itself but to finish third was amazing. I shall be flying up on Friday, along with friends and members of my family, and we shall all be going to the game on Saturday.
Our defence last Friday was immense, and if we can tackle like that throughout the Final, it will give us a good chance of winning. The present St Helens team is like the St Helens of old – give them half a chance and they’ll run right through you. We shall need to frustrate them with our defence, and keep them back in their own half. We know that we have the best playmaker, to turn on our own attack, when the chances come our way.
During my time with the club we won the Championship ourselves in 1976, but we never got to the Wembley Cup final, which in those days was the main event of the season. This game on Saturday will make up for that for me.
KEN GILL – Stand-off half, throughout the 70s
I was only able to watch the first half of the semi-final and I was praying that Salford would win, so when the result came through, I was utterly thrilled for the club. I look for Salford’s results every week because I am still so interested in them.
I never got emotional as a player because the main thing was to get the job done, and that has to be the aim of all the players now. They need to remember that they are as good as anyone, and mustn’t be overawed by people with names and reputations. I’ll be absolutely made up for them, if they won.
ALAN GRICE – Prop from late 60s to end of 70s
This team has played well, right throughout the season, from the very start when, in the first two or three weeks we were sitting at the top of the league. The quality of rugby they have played has been extremely good, and the away game against Catalans was very similar to the way we used to play in our days at The Willows.
It was lovely to watch, as were the away games at St Helens and Warrington. The performances we have seen in the last two matches must rank as the best we have witnessed in the past thirty years. Our forwards got on top of the Wigan pack really well, and in Lee Mossop and Gil Dudson we have two of the best props in the league, also well supported by our interchange hookers, Logan Tomkins and Joey Lusick, who complement each other so well.
The quality of the coaching has been second to none and this has produced a really good team spirit, which enables the lads to put disappointments behind them, and to come out and put things right the following week. There is a good balance throughout the whole team.
Although I was brought up in St Helens, my allegiance in rugby has always been with Salford and I really do hope they win on Saturday. There is no reason why our lads should not be full of confidence, particularly after the away game at St Helens, which we should have won, as also we should have beaten Wigan on Easter Monday.
I wish good luck to all the players and coaching staff, for Saturday.
RON HILL – Loose forward in late 60s and early 70s & scorer in 1969 Wembley Cup Final
We have had two incredible performances from the players in the last couple of weeks. I watched the first one sitting among a group of Castleford fans in a local hostelry, and consequently enjoyed every moment of the game. I said after the game that Salford’s performance that night was good enough to beat anyone, and so it proved last Friday. What a performance that was.
As for this Saturday’s Final, against Saints, I have waited fifty years for this, and the coincidence of them getting there on the fiftieth anniversary of our last Wembley appearance, is not lost on me. I still have my Salford kit from the day we played at Wembley.
Let us hope that the occasion will lead to the resurgence Salford needs to become great again. I just wish I could be there with you all. My best wishes to all the faithful fans of the Red Devils.
STEVE NASH- Scrum half from mid-70s to mid-80s
It’s just so good to know that the club is doing so well, once again, and that the players are really giving it a good go this season. It’s about time that the club started getting the recognition it deserves for all its endeavours, and I’m glad it is starting to happen.
I have happy memories of my days there. The Friday night match a the The Willows was the best night out you could have, in those days. Back in April of this year, I came back to celebrate my seventieth birthday, alongside some of my former teammates, which shows just how much the club still means to me. I wish them good luck both for Saturday and for the future, thereafter.
JOHN TAYLOR – Half back in late 60s and early 70s
Salford, for me, have always been the best, and you would not believe how pleased I am for the club, the players, supporters and sponsors. I am also delighted to have learned recently that I have been awarded one of the Heritage places, and that it has come along at such a high spot in the recent history of the club.
I would also like to bring to everyone’s memory the names of Chris Hesketh, Colin Dixon, and my older brother, Mark, all of whom are no longer with us, but who would have been delighted by, and loved, what is happening at Salford, now.
I am convinced that we are going to win this weekend, I really am, because St Helens were so outstanding, in the first semi-final, against Wigan, and it would be most difficult for them to be able to reproduce that sort of performance again, so soon afterwards. I will certainly be watching the game on Saturday and willing Salford on to victory.
Salford Red Devils supporters can to purchase tickets for the showpiece event online, in person from the The Salford Stadium Ticket Office, or over the phone on 0161 786 1570.