PASSIONATE Leeds Rhinos fan Kate Hargreaves couldn’t travel to Wembley to watch her beloved club in last year’s Challenge Cup final because she was nine months pregnant.
She had to make do with throwing a Wembley party at her home in Wortley and her son Rory was born on the day the Rhinos’ players came home after the final.
Mrs Hargreaves, 33, was set to be at Wembley this afternoon with Rory, her seven-year-old daughter Amber and mother Janice Hargreaves, 60.
She said: “We are all really excited, we can’t wait. To hopefully be celebrating a win and Rory’s first birthday will be brilliant.
“We are going to see them lift the cup in the flesh this year, not just on the TV.”
Rhinos fan Stephen Lowrie, 39, was due to be at his 45-year-old brother Daryl’s wedding in Melbourne, Australia, today.
But Stephen, formerly of Kirkstall, Leeds, and now of Guildford, Surrey, will be in the crowd at Wembley instead.
He said: “I’m flying out there in the early hours on Monday. I will have to make it up to him when I get there.
“He understands because he is a big Rhinos fan himself. He was going to try and go to the game himself, but she (his fiancee) put her foot down so I’m going to the final for both of us.”
Stephen said his brother missed his wedding in 2012 because he went to Munich to see Chelsea V Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
He added: “It is a chance to say goodbye to Sinfield and Peacock because they won’t be at Leeds next year.”
Former Leeds RL player Paul Fletcher, 60, has played in or been at Wembley to watch every Wembley final the club has been involved in since the 1968 Watersplash Final V Wakefield Trinity. He was part of the only Leeds team to have won back to back Challenge Cups in 1977 and 1978 and was on the coaching staff at the club for the Challenge Cup Final defeats to Wigan in 1994 and 1995.
Mr Fletcher has not travelled to Wembley for today’s match because he will be working at Meanwood pub the Bay Horse, which he runs with wife Carmel.
But he will be cheering the Rhinos on from the bar and is inviting fans to join what he hopes will be a day of celebrations.
Mr Fletcher said: “I’m bitterly disappointed, however work commitments mean it is impossible for me to go this year. But I will be supporting the boys on the TV and wish them all the best.
“I think it will be quite a high scoring game, however Leeds have just got that little bit of edge in class and hopefully they will come out on top.
“The referee for the game is Ben Thaler. He lives in Leeds and is one of our regulars. He will be in for a bit of stick if we get beat, which I don’t think we will.”
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “The support from our fans ahead of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final has been incredible. I was delighted to see so many people across Leeds decorating their homes and businesses in blue and amber to show their backing for the team and it has been a big boost for the players to know the whole city is behind them.
“We are so proud that thousands of Rhinos fans will be making the journey down to Wembley for what will be a special occasion for the club and we hope we can return to Leeds with the famous trophy in hand.”