Hundreds of Bristol City and Walsall supporters have stepped up their preparations for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final by getting close to the famous silverware.Saddlers fans young and old took the chance to see the Trophy as it toured the town on Monday and Tuesday.
There was huge excitement as the Trophy arrived at Delves Junior School in Bell Lane, where seven-year-old Daniel Ryder was presented with four tickets to the Wembley Stadium Final for winning the Johnstone’s Paint Design a Shirt competition.
Businesses, schools and community groups were encouraged to ‘Paint the Town Red’ on Tuesday. Painting and decorating students at Walsall College took the challenge literally by painting some of their workshops in Saddlers red.
The main event of the Trophy Tour was on Tuesday evening when around 250 Walsall fans turned up to the Banks’s Stadium. Walsall manager Dean Smith and players Adam Chambers, James Chambers and Romaine Sawyers mingled with supporters and posed for photographs with the Trophy. Former boss Chris Nicholl entertained fans with tales from yesteryear.
The evening concluded with a fans forum, led by BBC WM, giving supporters the chance to throw questions at Smith, Adam Chambers, Nicholl and ex-goalkeeper Mick Kearns.
Ben Wilde, brand and sponsorship manager for Johnstone’s Paint, said: “We had a fantastic time in Walsall. The club has not played at Wembley in its 127-year history, and you can tell that the supporters are really looking forward to the experience."
It was the turn of Bristol City supporters on Wednesday and Thursday, as the Trophy toured the city.
At Whitehall Primary School, 10-year-old David Crofts was presented with four tickets to the Wembley Stadium Final for winning the Johnstone’s Paint Design a Shirt competition.
The Trophy also visited BBC Bristol, Clifton Suspension Bridge and JACK FM, as well as The Range in Imperial Park and RSG.
Visitors to SS Great Britain, the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854, had a surprise to see the Trophy on board. And gorillas at Bristol Zoo showed their support for the Robins by proudly waving a We’re Going to Wembley flag.
Businesses, schools and community groups were encouraged to ‘Paint the City Red’ on Thursday. Children at New Fosseway got fully behind the initiative and were in fine voice to welcome the Trophy into their building.
The main event of the Trophy Tour was on Wednesday afternoon when hundreds of Bristol City fans turned up to Cabot Circus Shopping Centre. Bristol City players captain Wade Elliott, Joe Bryan and Frank Fielding as well as Aden Flint, Aaron Wilbraham, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Dave Richards mingled with supporters and posed for photographs with the Trophy.
Wilde added: “We had a fantastic time in Bristol. It’s clear that the supporters of Bristol City are really looking forward to the final.
“It was great to take Trophy out into the community and to give so many people the chance to see it.
“The final is now just days away and we’re looking forward to a fantastic game of football between two great clubs.”