Family affair for Eorl
Giants Huddersfield star hoping to extend family tradition at Wembley
Last Updated: 28/08/09 8:51am
Crabtree: Wembley tradition
Eorl Crabtree heads to Wembley for Saturday's Challenge Cup final hoping to add to the family history associated with the venue.
Crabtree has a special fondness for Wembley after both his grandfather and uncle enjoyed successful sporting trips to the venue.
His grandfather Shirley helped Halifax to get to Wembley in 1931, while his uncle, famously known as wrestler Big Daddy, performed there during his heyday.
"To go to Wembley and win would be a dream come true," said 26-year-old Crabtree. "There is a lot of history there for me personally, and it is something I have always thought about.
"My uncle and my grandad were there, so I get to follow suit. It's fantastic for me to follow in their footsteps.
"My grandad went down to Wembley with Halifax. He didn't actually play but he went down and got a Challenge Cup winners' medal. I hope I can get one as well.
"I don't know anything about my uncle being there - it was a bit before my time - but I know he went to Wembley, and that's all that matters."
Shirley Crabtree senior, who earned his medal for playing in earlier rounds, made more than 100 appearances for Halifax in the 1930s.
His son, also named Shirley, found fame in wrestling and took on Giant Haystacks at Wembley in one of a number of bouts during his sport's golden era of the 1970s and 1980s.
The third generation Crabtree, instantly recognisable as Super League's tallest player at 6ft 7in, admits playing and winning there himself would easily eclipse anything else he has achieved in the game.
"I haven't had that many highlights in my career - playing for England, winning the Carnegie Nines, the Buddies Cup final - so this one is going to be pretty special. It will be a massive occasion," he added.
"I'm playing well and enjoying myself, and the team is enjoying itself too. I didn't take it all in last time, I was younger and a little bit more naive.
"I was not expecting everything that came along and didn't take it all on board. It was a bit weird, a bit surreal.
"This year I am making the most of it. Wembley is not just about rugby, although that is the most important part. For my life experience, this is what dreams are made of."
Crabtree is a home grown product and the Giants' longest-serving player after nine seasons, and has enjoyed it so much that he recently committed to a new six-year contract.
"I sense the buzz everywhere we go," he said. "It is looking pretty good at the moment, and we want to make the most of this chance.
"It will be quite hard to match this season. It has been sensational for us. Top four most of the year and Challenge Cup final - you'd take that at the start of the year. But we have still got a lot of work to do as well."