A long awaited whiskey as Salford head to Wembley for first time in over 50 years

In 1987 Austin Wilkinson gave the Salford Red Devils Chairman a bottle of whiskey - and they vowed not to open it until Salford reached the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley
Photo: David Clegg
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In 1987 Austin Wilkinson gifted then former Salford Red Devils Chairman John Wilkinson a bottle of whiskey.

They vowed not to open it until Salford reached the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

Today, Salford are heading to Wembley for the first time in more than 50 years.

Austin, one of the club’s longest standing sponsors, sadly died in 1990, but John kept the bottle sealed away in a cupboard.

On Thursday, he was joined by Austin’s eldest son, James, to fulfil the agreement made over thirty years ago.

“I was asked to keep the bottle intact, and I’m just so pleased today, to have unscrewed the top and been able to taste the wonderful whiskey inside,” said John on the Salford Red Devils site.

“We think that it could be getting on for fifty years of age, because it had been bottled eight years before he purchased it, but It really did live up to all our expectations.

“When Salford walk out at Wembley on Saturday, I shall be filled with immense pride, because it was always my ambition to try to achieve that.”

James says he had known about the whiskey from his father first buying it, but had forgotten about it over the years, and hadn’t known he had given a bottle to the Chairman until John happened to mention it around ten years ago.

“I think I speak for most people when I say we had always believed it would happen,” said James about Salford heading to Wembley.

“We just didn’t know when that would be.”

In what has been a unique year, Salford and Leeds will provide a first for the 124-year-old tournament. It will be the first final to be played in an empty stadium, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions.

Will it be a first win at Wembley for Salford since 1938?

John and James certainly hope so, and the pair have have vowed to have a repeat meeting to toast their returning with the Cup.

“Come Saturday, as the players walk out onto the pitch, I think it will bring a tear to my eye at the thought of my dad’s vision of Wembley, forty years ago, as a life long Salford fan, with his motto of ‘Never say die’,” said James.

Support Salford Red Devils: Buy tickets for The Challenge Cup Final

Purchase a virtual ticket to show support in The Challenge Cup Final and receive a souvenir ticket memento following the event.

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