THEY ARE the fans who have generated a six-figure sum for their beloved club, the ones who introduced the man who would become the director that has overseen Salford’s transformation.

But despite waiting 51 years, Alan and Shirley Bradshaw will not be present to see the Red Devils walk out at Wembley.

And for Shirley, it is THIRD time unlucky after being forced to miss the 1969 Challenge Cup final and last year’s Super League Grand Final.

You name it, they have done it in the name of Salford.

Raise funds for junior and reserve players, help the club through its darkest days when it verged on disappearing, put young starlets up at their home, transport fans to Wembley no matter who was playing – they have done it all.

But on Saturday, the closest they are likely to get to seeing their favourites take on Leeds is at a Royal British Legion club in Swinton.

“We’ve raised about £120,000 over the years,” said Alan, who went in 1969 after taking an electrical exam he admits he was not interested in.

“In 1969, I came out of the exam, went to the pub with the lads then to Manchester’s Chorlton Street bus station to get the coach.

“I still remember the atmosphere walking up Wembley Way, you can’t beat it. You can have the Grand Final but the Challenge Cup is the main thing I live for.

“When I go to Wembley and the teams come out, I stand there with tears in my eyes and think, ‘One day, I’ll be here when Salford are.’

“We took Theo Fages there in 2016 and I turned to him and said, ‘One day mate.’ I meant for Salford, though, not St Helens!

“It’ll get to me more now as I can’t be there. For 30 years I’ve ran a trip thinking we’ll get there. For me, once the Challenge Cup is done it’s season over.

“I always say to Shirley, ‘Well, that’s my season over.’ And I said last year, ‘I’d have sooner have had Wembley than the Grand Final.’

“You couldn’t write this, could you? Not going, though, is going to be a killer.”

Shirley, 71, is used to missing out on Salford’s big days. Work at the pub – now owned by Paul Heaton of band The Beautiful South – cost her in 1969, a holiday in Barbados last year.

And let’s just say the Red Devils’ fortunes would have been the least of 70-year-old Alan’s worries had a chance of a ticket come off.

She recalled: “My mum and dad had a pub and all the guys went on a Wembley trip every year, obviously Salford was there in 1969 and everyone went – so I got lumbered with running the pub with my mother.

“I think I’m just destined never to see them in a final – it’s just fate.

“We were told there was a chance of a ticket. I said, ‘Oh, you go if you want,’ thinking, ‘I’ll slit your throat if you say yes!’

“The club means everything, it’s more than a hobby. We’d been going out for a few weeks before we realised we were both at Salford watching the rugby!

“If someone’s having a family do, we’d have to check there’s no rugby on before we say we can go. We’ve been at weddings and Christenings with earphones in.

“At one, I had a little cheer when we scored. The vicar was like, ‘What’s going on over there.’

“If they win it, I could die a happy woman.”

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