WEMBLEY awaits.

It’s been a long 11 years. In fact, the longest period, post-war, that Saints have gone without competing in rugby league’s most famous and historic sporting occasion.

Perhaps, with all the success between 1996 and 2008 (the successful trips to Wembley, Cardiff, Twickenham), the town became a little complacent about reaching the showpiece.

But the disappointments, near- misses and the decade without that big day has sharpened the desire of the red-vee followers.

And so the level of excitement and anticipation – exemplified by the many houses, businesses in pubs that have been decked out in red and white – is understandable.

A trip to Wembley creates a vivid memory (good or bad), particularly for the younger fan or first-timer.

Those famous finals of the past are imprinted in the memories of different generations of supporters. The older fans will recall the victories over Wigan by the great sides of the sixties in ‘61 and ‘66 and the ‘Dad’s Army’ triumph of 76.

And there are those who grew up pained by the defeat by Leeds in ‘78, the desperate loss to Halifax in ‘87, the trouncing by Wigan in ‘89 and a narrow defeat to the arch enemy in ‘91, before the Ultimate Comeback victory in ‘96 wiped away 20 years of hurt and paved the way for further successes.

What will Saturday bring? Well, it’s the first time Saints and Warrington have met in a major final in history, so there is one for the record books for starters.

The weather is expected to be glorious sunshine, which should make for free-flowing rugby.

Understandably, Saints are favourites. But they do face a fiercely competitive and dangerous opponent, who despite their poor form of late are fully capable of producing a big performance when it counts.

For Saints, it is about rising to the occasion and fulfilling their potential. Some of the rugby by the men in the red-vee over the past two seasons has been as go as anything of the past two decades.

If they reach those standards and deliver on the big stage they can earn the major silverware that their thrilling rugby has deserved.