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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Des delighted as Raiders land Wigan plum

CRAVEN Park chairman Des Johnston was cock-a-hoop after Barrow Raiders were handed a plum draw with Super League Wigan Warriors in the fourth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

He said: “I’m over the moon. What a draw.”

“I spent all night and the early hours taking text messages and phone calls — I am delighted for all concerned — the players, fans and for all those who have stuck with us.

“I spoke to Brian Noble (Wigan coach) and told him it’s time now for them to concentrate on the league as they are going no further in the cup!

“Mick Cassidy rang and he, like me, said what a draw.

“I couldn’t remember the rest of the draw — I was swinging from the chandelier.

“I had only planned to go to Wembley once this year with Man Utd — now I might be going twice.

“I have been in touch with Ned Catic and Zebastian Luisi only two hours ago, and they want to get over in time for the game, and watch this space we could have others on board.

“It is likely to be all-ticket and played on Sunday, April 5 at 3pm.”“This is great news for the club. “I am absolutely delighted for the fans and all those connected with the club who really deserve this. “I can confirm that we will be playing at the Mark Coward Stadium, Craven Park.

“As an occasion it will be up there with the AFC tie at Middlesbrough.

“The fans are going to have a chance to see top- class players on their own door-step — and I think Wigan have a few good players too!

“Wigan will want more tickets than we can allocate to them, and I am confident we will have a sell-out crowd.”

The chairman telephoned Wigan boss Brian Noble, who is a friend, in the aftermath of last night’s draw.“I’ve told him he can start concentrating on the Super League now, as Wigan won’t be in the next round of the cup.”

A delighted Raiders’ coach Dave Clark said: “I’m jumping with joy.

“Wigan and Brian Noble coming to Craven Park — it’s going to be a sell out.

“What a weekend for the town and supporters, it’s going to be a carnival atmosphere.

“I am absolutely speechless.

“It is a reward for Des and the board who have worked so hard over the last two or three years. It is a magnificent draw and the fans will come out in droves.

“Wigan supporters will also be out in force, it is going to be a good day for the town and club.

“Andrew Brocklehurst was at the draw and held his phone near the microphone so I could listen in, a few Super League clubs had already come out and when they said Barrow I thought that will do me, and when I heard Wigan I was delighted.”

it is an awesome draw.Wigan at home you cant ask for anything more than that."The club also expect it to be good for the local economy with the pubs and food outlets doing well from the local and travelling supporters.Barrow vice-chairman Dave Sear commented: “We will be emailing details of the food and drink outlets who have supported the Raiders to the Wigan club as I am sure that as rugby league fans that they would like to support businesses that support the game.”

Wigan, winners of the trophy 17 times, will be bristling with internationals such as Pat Richards, Sean O’Loughlin and Thomas Leuluai when they take the field at Hindpool over the weekend of April 4/5.

Wigan are a team full of internationals in the likes of Great Britain stars Sean O"Louglin Stuart Fielden and Garreth Hock along with Kiwi star half back Thomas Leuluai and Aussie and Ireland goal kicking back Pat Richards.Local lads shining through this season are brothers Joel and Sam Tomkins, along with winger Shaun Ainscough.

Wigan’s campaign got off to a poor start, their worst ever in Super League, losing the three opening games, but wins at Harlequins and the 44-10 thrashing of Bradford at the weekend have put them back on track.

The cherry-and-whites were cup kings in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they won the Challenge Cup eight years in succession with household names such as Andy Gregory, Shaun Edwards, Ellery Hanley, Joe Lydon and Martin Offiah.

Joe Lydon and Dean Bell gracing the famous Wembley turf.And it was at Wembley in 1951 that Wigan defeated Barrow 10-0 in a decade that saw Barrow, captained by Willie Horne, return twice more, lifting the trophy for the only time in 1955 defeating Workington 21-12.

The Raiders Bar at Craven Park will be open on Thursday for the Widnes v Toulouse game (7.30pm) and on Friday for the Leeds v Wigan game (8pm).


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