WHEN I left St Helens in September 1989 my mate Paul gave me a badge - a simple stickman - and for 12 years down in Brum I wore it with pride to the puzzlement of the locals.

Saints were still reeling from the 27-0 defeat by Wigan at Wembley when I bailed out - but no matter how far you run it never leaves you. You can take the boy out of St Helens and all that..

Our proud town has been knocked about this past 30 years or so.

A lot of the industries that provided status, identity and let's face it reasonably paid blue collar jobs have gone or diminished.

We still have positive things happening in the town, especially in other sporting and entertainment fields, but the biggest standard bearer for St Helens remains our rugby team.

Tonight Saints will once again take our town crest on the world stage after a break of two years, that at time felt like an eternity.

Nobody gave them a chance of getting here really - not without Wilkin, Walsh and Lomax - but this team has dug in a really found something.

And tonight, they have to find something extra specialist they are to take out the title for the first time since 2006.

Sure, they may be short of a couple of linchpins - but once skipper Paul Wellens has got into them before the game and given them the pep talk, those lads will run out there feeling ten foot tall.

The squad have focused on what they have got rather than what they haven't this past eight weeks and that's stood them in good stead.

Yes, it's easy to predict where Wigan have all the aces, but some of the dismissive comment directed at Saints in the run up to this game has just been plain rude and disrespectful.

Let's just hope this gives them even more motivation, adds that little bit of hunger and fire in their bellies and the men in the red vee go out there and make a massive statement.

And if they do pull it off, this class of 2014 will have propelled themselves up their with the biggest achievements this club - not short of history or heritage - has ever pulled off.

That old badge of mine very rarely gets an airing these days - last day at Knowsley Road I think was the last time.

But today feels special - win or lose.

So I'll borrow the words of Marky, often shouted when jumping off the Funbus in the early noughties ahead of another backs to the wall effort.

"Come on the S - let's have it!"