As a lifelong fan of the club, Wigan Warriors half-back Jake Shorrocks has plenty of special memories when it comes to Old Trafford: as well as a couple of bad ones.
Not many people can say they’ve seen all of Wigan’s previous nine appearances at the Super League Grand Final in the flesh – but Shorrocks, one of the real bright spots of an impressive year for the Warriors, can say that he has.
But this weekend, appearance number ten will be the most special of all – when he steps out onto the turf and plays for his hometown club in a Grand Final.
“I’ve got some great memories,” he told TotalRL.
“I’ve been to every single Grand Final Wigan have been in – either as a fan or, in the case of last year, as a player. I know the place well but this weekend will obviously be a completely different kettle of fish.
“I’ve had some bad memories here because Wigan have lost a few times but in 2010 I was a ballboy for that game. I was stood in the tunnel and Sam Tomkins walked past me and knocked the ball out of my hand and it went rolling away. It was really weird! I thought I was going to get into trouble but I was just a bit starstruck.
“It’s all a bit surreal at the moment. I can’t let it get the better of me though; with only making my debut in May if someone had told me I would be making my first appearance in a Grand Final this year I’d have snapped their hand off.”
Having made only 12 appearances as a professional, the temptation is probably there for most youngsters to try and treat this weekend as normally as humanly possible.
But Shorrocks – in a way which underlines the ambition and talent the 20-year-old possesses – is aiming to drink every second of it in.
“Shaun was always saying he was going to try play me as much as I could and get me in the team but I never thought for one minute I’d be on the verge of playing in a Grand Final. I was part of the squad last year watching from the stands.
“I’ve thought all about what I’ll do this year, to be honest. As soon as the whistle was blown on Friday my mind began to turn towards what it would be like walking out there, because I’ve been there as a fan in the past. I know how loud and intense it is so to be a player and walk out of the tunnel will be something special. I can’t wait.”
And having played such a pivotal role in getting Wigan to Old Trafford, Shorrocks insists the Warriors, despite their injury problems, are raring to go.
“We’re in a real good place, definitely,” he says.
“The togetherness and unity in this team is something I’ve never experienced before. You can tell that there’s something there this year and I’m sure it shows in the games we’ve come back and won in. It shows what we’re prepared to do for each other. We’ve given ourselves a great chance of achieving something special.”
However, there is one small price to pay for all the euphoria and excitement currently coursing through Shorrocks’ veins.
“All the family are coming – and I mean all the family,” he says. “They’re costing me a fortune in ticket sales!”
If Wigan win on Saturday night, you suspect that will have been a small, small price to pay.