MIKE Cooper is one of just two members of the 2009 Challenge Cup-winning Warrington Wolves squad to still be playing for the club.

He featured off the bench as a fresh-faced 20-year-old that day and helped his hometown club end a 35-year trophy drought with a 25-16 win over Huddersfield Giants at Wembley.

10 years on from that famous day, he is one of the leaders of the Wire pack as they prepare for another tilt at glory, with St Helens standing in their way.

In his own words, Coops reflects on the day where everything just seemed to go right…

“These 10 years have gone very quick, but what an experience it was.

“The 2009 Challenge Cup Final is a memory I will always cherish.

“When you’re under a bit of pressure, it is always nice to look back on things like 2009. It makes you want to taste that again.

“My first memory is being told by Tony Smith that I was going to play.

“I think that was on the Tuesday or the Wednesday before the game on the Saturday.

“We trained at the stadium and all the fans just turned up to see us onto the coach to London.

“We just weren’t expecting it at all and I wasn’t prepared for it.

“I’d say there was easily 1,000 people there and we had to fight our way through to get to the bus.

“It could have got the nerves going but for me, it was a buzz.

“It hit home at that point what we were actually doing. We really were going to play at Wembley.

“We stayed in a really nice hotel where the England football team used to stay.

“I think we had three nights down there. We all had our own rooms and it was really luxury.

“We went down to have a look at the stadium on the Friday and I was in awe.

“I was just taking everything in – the tunnel, the pitch and getting used to where we’d be taking carries in.

“It was all part of the Wembley experience. You knew you were in a final.

“In the tunnel before the game, you’re going to have a bit of nerves and I was no different. In saying that, I also knew I had a job to do.

Warrington Guardian:

The Wire team lines up before the 2009 final

“There is a balance to be got right in terms of enjoying the occasion without letting it overwhelm you

“I was just coming off the bench then. I came on after about 20 minutes and for me, I just wanted to get my first carry done and crack on from there.

“The story goes that we knew we were going to win before we even turned up.

“I felt that, 100 per cent.

“We just felt we had the edge. Everything went perfectly in the build-up.

“I remember being in a yardage set and still in our own half and Briersey kicked across for Chris Riley on the wing to claim it.

“With things like that coming off, we just knew we were on it that day and it was going to happen.

“Tony came up with a great game plan and psychologically, we were so ready.

“I think we had Huddersfield beat before we got out of the tunnel, to be honest.

“Looking at the way we lined up ready to go out, we just looked so much more confident than they did.

“The game itself wasn’t overwhelming as such, but the aftermath was. For a 20-year-old who had grown up supporting Warrington, seeing all the fans at the stadium after we’d won and spending the evening celebrating with our families was a great buzz.

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The Challenge Cup is lifted by a Warrington captain for the first time since 1974

“We had a meal and a drink together and Simon Moran looked after everybody.

“Then there was the bus trip home and the parade around town to cap a really special couple of days.

“There must have been tens of thousands of people out on the streets when we got back to Warrington.

“What was great for me was seeing so many people who weren’t necessarily fans of the team but just Warrington people enjoying Warrington success with other Warrington people.

Warrington Guardian:

Mike Cooper takes a picture from the front of the bus

Warrington Guardian:

“Saints have been very consistent this and their key players have played really well.

“Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace have been getting them on the front foot and the middles come in off the back of that.

“It makes it a lot easier for the likes of Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson coming off the quick play-the-balls to get up a head of steam.

“They’ve kept the team fairly consistent throughout the year and deserve to be at the top.

“We’ll go in as underdogs but we’re going in extremely confident.

“If we keep all 17 men on the field, it will be a different story.”

Warrington Guardian: