Halifax head into a Challenge Cup semi-final today knowing they have already won.
Fax have endured two decades of despair. After coming all so close to an appearance in the first Grand Final back in 1998, the club has suffered a steady decline.
It started with the sale of their beloved Thurm Hall. Despite that, they were soon in financial disarray. In 1999 they entered a CVA and were £750,000 in debt.
That resulted in the departures of key players. Fans saw players they idolised leave at a regular rate.
By 2003 they were on the verge of extinction again. Though they survived, they were relegated from Super League with zero points.
A year later they found themselves at the bottom of the Championship. Only a dramatic late fightback in a play-off final against York saw them avoid back-to-back relegations.
The 15 years since haven’t been quite as chaotic. There have been smatterings of success, a Grand Final victory in 2010 and Northern Rail Cup success in 2012.
Three top four finishes in four years gave their fans something to hold onto. But this remains a shadow of the club that kickstarted the influx of Australians in the 80s and won the Challenge Cup 31 years ago.
On Saturday, that changes for one day only, Fax are back on the big stage.
For one generation of their fan base, it’s a chance to relive the great days of Eadie, Anderson and Pendlebury. For another, it will let them experience a day they’ve only ever been able to live through the memories of their parents and grandparents. Until now.
They will travel to Bolton with their heads ruling their hearts. Only in the realms of fantasy have Fax got a chance of beating St Helens. But deep down, they’ll think maybe, just maybe.
That’s why Halifax have already won. They’ve allowed their fans to dream again.
Some people have dusted off the records book in anticipation of a record semi-final score.
But the result is immaterial.
Today is Halifax’s day, and nobody can take that away from them.