JAMES Chester hopes to give his friends and family from Birchwood a reason to celebrate when stepping out at Wembley for the FA Cup final on Saturday.
The former Birchwood High School student played his part in the semi final win against Sheffield United, helping Hull City reach their first ever final in the competition.
Now the 25-year-old wants to emulate the success he watched Manchester United enjoy as a boy by beating Arsenal in front of 90,000 fans.
“I think I’ve got half of Birchwood coming down to watch, it’s cost me a fortune in tickets,” laughed the central defender.
“But as nice a day as it is for me, it’s one for my friends and my family to enjoy so hopefully they’ll have something to celebrate as well.
“It’s the first time we’ve managed to do it and we’re not sure we’ll get to do it too many more times in our careers, so we’re looking forward to it.
“I watched finals when I was young, especially as a United fan I was lucky to watch quite a few, so we want to go and enjoy the day but we want to go and win it.”
Chester is battling a re-occurring hamstring injury but, having tasted the Wembley atmosphere in the semi final, is hopeful of recovering in time for Saturday.
“I’d been to watch a few games there, but I don’t think you realise how big it is until you’re standing in the middle of the pitch.
“There was a huge amount of noise made by the fans and I’ve not played in front of that many people before, it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.
“It’s some stage to play football on and hopefully I’ll be fit to do that again – I’ve had my scan and the physio says I’ve got a chance of playing.
“The last two times I’ve done my hamstring it’s been a minimum of four weeks so to have a chance is a big thing.”
The Manchester United graduate made a single League Cup appearance for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, before joining Hull City in 2011 and helping them win promotion from the Championship last season.
Arsenal’s qualification for the Champions League now means a delighted Chester and his teammates are guaranteed a Europa League spot next season.
“I look forward to that journey next year,” added the former Winwick Athletic junior. “It’s been a great season for the club having stayed up.
“That was our aim at the beginning of year, but to reach a cup final and have European football to look forward to next year, the season couldn’t have gone any better for us.
“That was the only goal really, we were favourites to go down ahead of Crystal Palace, who went up through the play-offs whereas we got automatic promotion.”
The Tigers will be without cup-tied January transfer signings Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic for the final with boss Steve Bruce instead likely to use Matty Fryatt, who scored a screamer in Hull’s defeat to United last week.
“We knew ourselves we had a decent squad and the gaffer bought well in the summer and again in January,” he said.
“In this league, when you pay £15million for two strikers it makes a difference. To have strikers scoring goals, I think they’ve got four or five each, which have been important goals, has got us the points to stay in this division.
“On the cup run we’ve got Matty Fryatt, who’s been doing it when he’s come in and played, so it’s a great opportunity for him to come in and play the final as well.
“Matty is probably the most relaxed man I’ve ever met, but that’s the quality he possesses and when he gets a chance he’ll take it.”