Wembley fever has taken over Castleford as people in the town prepare to flock to the capital for Saturday’s Challenge Cup final.
Cas take on Leeds Rhinos in the first all-Yorkshire cup final since 2005 after seeing off Widnes Vikings 28-6 earlier this month.
Shops, businesses and homes across the town have decorated windows in the black and amber of Tigers as more than 20,000 supporters are expected to catch a glimpse of Cas in their first Wembley trip since taking on Wigan in the 1992 final.
Fans lined the streets of Wheldon Road and Carlton Street in Castleford for the second week running, desperate to book their seats for the momentous trip.
One business to get into the Wembley spirit is the Tartan Coffee Lounge, on Commercial Street. The cafe is decorated in black and amber buntin, flags and all the staff (pictured above right) are wearing Wembley t-shirts for the weekend.
Denise Robbins, cafe manager, said: “Cas getting to Wembley is just amazing. It’s given the whole town a boost and you can see that when customers are coming in.
“I’ve noticed a difference in the last three weeks since they got the semi-final it’s just lifted everybody. It has been a bit low in Castleford over the last few years but now everybody is happier and walking around with a smile on their face.
“Decorating the shop has definitely led to a boost in trade for us.”
Carlton Lanes Shopping Centre, home of Tigers’ store the Tigers’ Den, Castleford indoor market and shops along Carlton Street are also decorated in the team’s colours.
Tigers Supporters’ Club ran a competition for businesses to decorate their windows across the town.
Paul Hampton, one of the organisers, said: “Wembley fever has certainly hit the town and a lot of the businesses have got on board with it.
“I think on Saturday it is a rugby team from Leeds taking on the whole of Castleford - everybody is in the spirit.”
Wembley fever has also transformed Castleford’s indoor market.
Stallholders have clubbed together to set up a special Tigers Wembley stall featuring merchandise, memorabilia and a chance to send messages of good luck to Daryl Powell and his team.
Carol Hall, of Anderson’s butchers, has been following Cas for 20 years and was at Wembley for the club’s 1986 Challenge Cup victory over Hull KR.
She said: “It’s brilliant news for the town. I remember it in 1986 and it was amazing. My 50th birthday present was tickets for the Challenge Cup final so for Cas to be playing really is the perfect present.”
Homeowner Janine Mears (pictured right) has transformed her Glass Houghton home into a Tigers wonderland.
Her front window has been decorated with club merchandise and she has even made her own replica Challenge Cup trophy.
Mrs Mears, 38, said: “I was there when we won in 1986 and it’s incredible and I was there in 1992 when we lost so I know about the contrast of emotions.
“I just think it’s great for Cas to be at Wembley and I think it’s all down to Daryl Powell to be honest.
“He has just transformed the club.”