Geordie Saints Shaun is coming home

FOR years he loyally set out in his car to make mind-numbing 150-mile trips just to watch the lads in the red vee.

Little wonder, then, that he raises an eyebrow at Saints fans who have found travelling to Widnes a bridge too far!

But now Shaun Kelly, aka the Geordie Saint, has finally upped sticks from his native Newcastle to move much closer to his spiritual home.

And the 43-year-old father-of-two, now settled in Newton-le-Willows, says his move “down south” in May was 99 per cent because of his love of Saints.

Shaun told the Reporter: “Travelling down from the north east every week was costing me a small fortune so I decided the time was right to make the move. I just felt that my heart belonged here.

“Two journeys in particular stand out for being total nightmares. On the day Saints beat Wigan 75-0 my car broke down, so I had to hitch-hike to the game. It was well worth it though!

“The second nightmare trip was just two years when it took me six hours to get to St Helens because of snow. On that occasion I couldn’t cope with the journey back so I stayed in a B&B!”

Shaun, an ex Newcastle United season ticket holder, started following rugby league 25 years ago after bumping into a Saints fan while on holiday in Southport.

Despite being a self-confessed “armchair fan” for the first 10 years, his love of Saints grew as he became increasingly disillusioned with football.

Since Super League began, he has been a fixture at Saints’ home games - and has even made it to dozens of away games too.

Nominated fan of the year five years ago, he classes Sean Long, Jamie Lyon and Paul Sculthorpe as his all-time favourite Saints players.

But what is it that Shaun, who has already bought his five-year season ticket for the new Saints stadium, finds so intoxicating about rugby league?

“I love the banter with the fans and the fact that opposition fans can all get along and have a beer together. I think rugby league is a game where all the aggression is out on the pitch, so there’s no need for any in the stands.

“The game is so exciting too. There’s always something happening. That’s why I can’t stand rugby union - it’s too slow.

“My daughter, Rachel, is a fan too. And I think Saints are in pretty good shape now - youngsters like Lomax, Gaskell and Foster are not far off being the finished article.”