One lucky Burnley supporter is thrilled after being selected to join a football fan choir and sing “Abide With Me” at this year’s FA Cup final.
Margaret Lupton, from Colne, will represent the Clarets when she takes to the Wembley pitch on May 30th as one of 64 Songs of Praise competition winners.
The BBC invited supporters to submit stories that reflected their personal memories and passion for the cup, with individuals from all the clubs who made this seasons’ Third Round being selected.
The 67-year-old said: “It’s obviously very exciting news. I’ve known for a couple of weeks now unofficially, but had to wait until Friday to be able to tell everybody.
“I’m not really nervous. I don’t have any recent experience of singing, but with so many of us there is strength in numbers.
“It is a privilege to represent Burnley FC. It’s very special to go to a cup final and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Over 1,300 people applied to take part in the pre-game ceremony, where the hymn has been a permanent fixture since it was first performed in 1927.
The collection of fans, with ages ranging from early 20s to 100, will join The Band of The Bridge of Gurkhas and will be led by Songs of Praise conductor Steve Thompson.
Margaret is a season-ticket holder at Turf Moor, and her successful competition entry recounted her visit to watch Burnley take on Tottenham Hotspur in the 1962 final.
“The noise and sheer size of the stadium was unbelievable. The crowd was 100,000 strong back then,” she said.
It is a privilege to represent Burnley FC. It’s very special to go to a cup final and I’m really looking forward to itMargaret Lupton
“As a fashion conscious 14-year-old, I was not happy to be told I must wear my school uniform so that I could be easily spotted in the crowds.
“My dad managed to secure two tickets, but wanted to take both me and my elder sister to Wembley. Optimistically, he hoped to be able to purchase a third ticket outside the stadium. Sadly, the ticket touts would not release their tickets at a reasonable price, and he ended up listening to the match standing by a transistor radio at an ice-cream van.
“He then had to drive us back home to Lancashire (a round trip of just under 500 miles) and to cap it all, Burnley lost 3-1!” That wasn’t Margaret’s first trip to the famous old stadium, having watched Bolton Wanderers defeat Manchester United in the 1958 showpiece event as a present for passing the 11+ exam.
“We made a full day out of it - sight-seeing in the morning, then the match followed by the Victoria Palace Theatre in the evening to see the Crazy Gang,” she said.
While it may some time before the Clarets are back at Wembley again, she remains proud of her team in what has been a challenging campaign.
“It’s a special season for us. They’ve played their hearts out, so this will round off the season very nicely for me,” she said.