Alex Walmsley admits the atmosphere and emotion surrounding last Saturday’s Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford exceeded all expectations.
From playing in front of a hundred or so spectators for Dewsbury Celtic just a couple of years ago, Walmsley found himself walking out in front of 70,000 fans as St Helens went up against arch rivals Wigan Warriors.
Walmsley explained: “I’d spoken to players who have said about getting a tingle down their spines for big games but I’d never really thought it happened, as I’d never experienced that.
“Walking out in front of 70,000 cheering supporters really did make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I was tingling all over.
“I always try and spot my family in the crowd but I just couldn’t on Saturday.
“I’ve been to Old Trafford three or four times to watch Leeds, mainly due to the Franny Cummins and Matt Diskin connections with Dewsbury Celtic, but I never thought I’d be walking out to play in a Grand Final — it really is the stuff dreams are made of.
“Winning just put the icing on top of a very big cake and to have a Grand Final ring on my finger is unbelievable.
“With a couple of minutes to go I thought ‘we’ve won this’ and just started welling up —there was no way I could have gone back out on the field I was just too emotional.
“We’d been together as a team since pre-season last November and it made all the hard work worthwhile, I’d go through it all again a thousand times to experience that feeling.”
St Helens will now play Australian champions South Sydney Rabbitohs in the World Club Challenge next February, when Walmsley could come up against fellow Dewsbury lads George, Tom and Luke Burgess.
Walmsley is relishing the prospect of being involved in that match, adding: “You look at the players Dewsbury have produced in the past and then the Burgess boys who have gone to Australia and made it. It will make playing in the World Club Challenge even more sweeter.
“To have four lads from my home town involved in that game will be special.”