CHALLENGE Cup finalists Saints have reported a massive demand for tickets for their Wembley date on April 27.

And early indications are that they will have around 20,000 supporters at the big game.

Almost 2,000 package deals by coach and train had been snapped up at the time of writing, which, along with tickets sold to season ticket holders making their own travel arrangements, mean that fully 9,000 of Saints allocation of 14,000 have gone.

The remainder, which cover the complete price range, were due to go on unlimited sale yesterday, Wednesday and although Saints have no plans to ask for a further ticket allocation, 3,000 are on stand-by at the Rugby League offices in Leeds.

Leading travel agents Ellisons obtained a bumper supply of tickets from the same source and reported a heavy demand for those priced £17 and a total sell-out of the overnight stay trip, but £27 tickets and coach seats remain on sale at their Westfield Street shop.

Saints' chief executive David Howes (pictured here) has completed accommodation arrangements for the official party in the capital, and details of these will be announced at a later date.

Saints' chairman Eric Ashton, coach Shaun McRae and several players, including Alan Hunte, Ian Pickavance, Joey Hayes, Danny Arnold, Apollo Perelini and 1987 Wembley captain Chris Arkwright were among a 200-strong gathering at the McEwan-Lager Super League dinner at Haydock's Thistle Hotel.

The enjoyable event was compered by David Howes, while a name-your-best Wembley team compiled by club historian Alex Service was won by Martyn with the line-up reading: Pimblett; Vollenhoven, Greenall, Walsh, Killeen; Murphy, Bishop; Prescott, Sayer, Watson, Nicholls, Huddart, Coslett.

Saints' Alliance team will play Hull at Knowsley Road on Thursday, March 28, kick-off 7.30pm.

Radio Merseyside will present a Rugby Forum at Knowsley Road on Monday, March 25 at 7.30pm, with the panel including Bobbie Goulding, Shaun McRae, Adam Fogerty and David Howes. Tickets are £3 or pay at door. Forthcoming events in the Phil Veivers' testimonial include: Hypnotic Evening at Saints, March 22, £4. Race nights at Cricketers, March 26, British Sidac March 29, Horseshoe Parr, April 4. Easter bingo at Saints, March 27 50p. Psychic Supper, Swan, April 12. £9.

Saints' last Challenge Cup winning captain Kel Coslett is included in a Sporting Forum to be held at St. Helens Cricket Club tomorrow, Friday, at 8pm. Tickets are £3 including hot-pot and may be obtained from Geoff Cropper on St. Helens 758870.

Answer to correspondent Harry Rigby: Saints defeated Barrow 10-5 in the Challenge Cup semi-final replay at Wigan in 1956. Tries were scored by Llewellyn and Parsons and Rhodes kicked two goal. Team: Moses: Llewellyn, Greenall, Finnan, Carlton; Dickinson, Rhodes; Prescott, McIntyre, Terry, Parsons, Silcock, Karalius.

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