London Broncos player Chris Melling says matches against his home-town club Wigan Warriors are always special but that tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final at Leigh Sports Village (5.00pm) will be something else.
The 28-year-old former full-back turned back row began his career with the Warriors, coming through their Academy system before making his Super League debut in 2004. He joined the Broncos in 2007 where has been a regular ever since, becoming one of the club’s longest-serving players.
As a youngster growing up in Ashton-in-Makerfield near Wigan and following the Warriors, he knows just how special the Challenge Cup is and what playing in a final would mean.
“Every year you play the game, you want to be playing in finals and that’s what you aspire to,” said Melling. “At the start of the season we set ourselves a target of hitting the heights. We’ve now got 80 minutes on Saturday to achieve that dream.
“Games against Wigan are always special for me. In some ways it’s just another game but at the same time there’s that wanting to get one over on your ex-team mates and the club that released you.
“There’s always a great camaraderie between ex-team mates and friends. It will be more special than if we were playing someone else but at the same time it’s the semi-final of the Challenge Cup and the recognition that competition brings is unbelievable.
“This is 80 minutes, a one-off game, and we know anything can happen. Whoever turns up on Saturday in the right frame of mind having put everything in place throughout the week will be the team that gets the result.
“That’s what we’re aiming to do.”
The London club have struggled to attain any tangible success in recent seasons but Melling believes that an appearance at Wembley would give the Broncos, and the game in the South, a massive boost.
“League positions over the last few years have been disappointing,” he said. “Performances haven’t matched up to expectations and for the players and staff - that hurts.
“We’ve got the opportunity to re-write the history books now and give ourselves a bit of a legacy for players to look back on in 10 to 15 years’ time. This is a great opportunity for everyone involved in the club.
“I’ve spent the majority of my professional career here and seen first-hand the development of the junior game down here and the number of kids playing the game. Success for the team in London would be a massive milestone to help that development.
“More and more kids are buying into the game. If as a team we can deliver results and give them success, they’re going to buy into it even more.”
Tickets for the Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final, London Broncos v Wigan Warriors, at the Leigh Sports Village on Saturday July 27 cost from £18 adult and £9 concession and can be purchased in advance by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk Tickets can also be purchased on the day and cost £20 adult and £10 concession.
Tickets for the 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24 are now on sale priced from just £21. Visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call 0844 856 1113 for full details.
For people with any form of disability the RFL offers a free assistant place when booking tickets. For people with a visual impairment or non-sighted disability we also offer audio visual descriptive commentary for all our events.