HE calls it ‘just another game’, but Saturday is another that happens to be Wolves fanatic Craig Garner’s 1,000th in a row.
Apt, then, that a prestigious Challenge Cup semi final with Leeds Rhinos should bring about the milestone for the 43-year-old, who last missed a match 29 years ago.
“It’s just a case of going to watch them now, to me it’s just another game,” said postman Craig, who did not make it to Bradford Northern away in the 1984/85 season.
“Before that I was taken to a lot of games by my parents and we very rarely missed a game. But going to places like Hull FC and Hull KR in the ‘80s was tough.
“There are a lot of loyal Warrington fans, though, and a couple I would think who have only missed one or two in 17 years.
“I was just lucky to attend all of them – at Hull the other day we arrived with 12 minutes to go – really our lot are very loyal.”
A crash on the M62 caused chaos for many Wolves fans travelling to Hull FC and Craig thanked driver Matt Wilkinson for keeping his record alive.
“I thought we wouldn’t make the game,” admitted the former Woolston Rovers hooker. “Matt was the one determined to get there. He’s not missed one in about seven years himself.
“In the end, when we got stuck, there was no point turning back and we got there with 12 minutes on the clock. It was down to Matt.
“I presumed we were going to miss it and I guess I would have been upset as I had it in my mind.”
The 1,000 games do not include friendlies, Testimonials, or his trip to Australia to see Wolves play South Sydney in 2012. Not that he missed any of those, but Craig's statistics follow those of players - whose appearances in traditional record-keeping methods only count for league, cup and play-offs matches.
Craig had to wait until 2009 to witness his first Challenge Cup success, but says Warrington fans have never had it so good.
“I was very young when I first went and can’t remember my first game,” he added. “The first time I saw us win the Challenge Cup was 2009.
“In ’74 I was only two and in those days you wouldn’t take your very young children to Wembley. Nowadays the kids that are growing up, all they have seen is success.
“When I was young we were a very good side. Even though we had a bad era, especially when Super League was first here, thankfully we picked up and with Simon (Moran) on board and Tony Smith as coach it’s paid off.
“We let a lot of players go (this season) and it probably took us longer to sort it out than we expected, but we’re still in both cups.
“There’s a chance to win Super League and win the Challenge Cup, so we can’t complain.”
And as for reaching 2,000? Craig will see how it goes, saying: “When I was younger and reached 500 it was something I felt was an achievement, but the numbers aren’t important now, it’s just that I like to go.
“I will probably try and do it. There will be a game one day when I can’t go and I’ll be disappointed but it’s just one of those things.”
CRAIG'S JOURNEY TO 1,000 SUCCESSIVE LEAGUE, CUP AND PLAY-OFFS MATCHES:
Season 1984-85, 9 games
Season 1985-86, 43 games
Season 1986-87, 41 games
Season 1987-88, 39 games
Season 1988-89, 37 games
Season 1989-90, 38 games
Season 1990-91, 39 games
Season 1991-92, 32 games
Season 1992-93, 33 games
Season 1993-94, 36 games
Season 1994-95, 40 games
Season 1995-96, 24 games
Season 1996, 24 games
Season 1997, 32 games
Season 1998, 25 games
Season 1999, 33 games
Season 2000, 32 games
Season 2001, 32 games
Season 2002, 30 games
Season 2003, 31 games
Season 2004, 32 games
Season 2005, 30 games
Season 2006, 33 games
Season 2007, 30 games
Season 2008, 30 games
Season 2009, 32 games
Season 2010, 34 games
Season 2011, 32 games
Season 2012, 36 games
Season 2013, 34 games
Season 2014, 26 games