Isaach’s Unforgettable First Grand Final

Wigan Warriors celebrated being crowned 2023 Super League champions on an unforgettable night at Old Trafford – even more so for one Warrior.

Liam Marshall’s try and a trio of goals from Harry Smith saw the Warriors defeat Catalans Dragons 10-2 to lift the trophy inside the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

After seeing the Warriors crowned champions at his first Grand Final, Isaach Kearsley waited outside Old Trafford to see his favourite player, Abbas Miski, who he walked out with as a mascot ahead of Lebanon’s 2021 World Cup Group Stage game against Jamaica at Leigh Sports Village.

“Isaach has been a massive fan of Abbas Miski ever since he walked out with him for Lebanon during the World Cup,” said Isaach’s mum, Linzi. “Abbas has remembered him ever since and now Isaach waits for Abbas after every single game to give him an Oreo chocolate bar.”

10-year-old Isaach, who plays for Westhoughton Lions, received Miski’s match worn shirt from Wigan’s victory over Leeds Rhinos in September, which he was waiting to get signed following the Grand Final.

“Abbas walked out through the crowd and went straight over to Isaach,” Linzi said. “I wasn’t with him at the time but I got a phone call from his dad telling me Abbas had just given Isaach his shirt from the Grand Final – he was so shocked.”

However, Isaach’s joys turned to heartbreak after a discovery on the journey home: “In the fuss of having two shirts and rushing back to get a taxi, Isaach dropped the Grand Final shirt,” Linzi said. “Although he realised when he was in the taxi back, the realisation didn’t hit him until we got home – he was absolutely devasted.”

In the hope of relocating the shirt, Linzi turned to social media: “I joined every rugby league related page on Facebook I could find, I messaged all the players on Instagram, I contacted the Club through WhatsApp – I went crazy in the panic.

“I don’t think I ended up going to bed until 5:30am as I was sharing the post in as many groups as I could. The whole response was just mental – it received more than 5k shares on Facebook – and I even received a message from Abbas’ sister.”

The power of social media prevailed and the next morning Linzi received a message from Salford Red Devils fan Hannah, who had seen the post on social media, saying she had found the shirt after watching the Grand Final with fellow Salford fans and friends Abbie and Ellie.

“I just bawled my eyes out when the message came through,” Linzi said. “We’d gone to Manchester in the morning as Isaach was playing rugby union so he didn’t actually know until he came off at the end of the game – he went mental when I told him the news.”

Isaach with Hannah [left] and Abbie [right].

“The three girls had been waiting outside for Junior Nsemba and whilst waiting they found the shirt in a ball near the bins. They came across my post on social media, got in touch, and we went and picked the shirt up less than 24 hours after losing it – the girls were fantastic!”

After being reunited with the match worn shirt on Sunday night, the Grand Final memorabilia will now be framed and hung in Isaach’s bedroom as an ever-present reminder of an unforgettable first Grand Final.

“Isaach has only had a season ticket for a year so rugby league is new to us, but the whole community is just incredible and one big family,” Linzi said. “It’s an unbelievable story really and a Grand Final we will definitely never forget.”

Wednesday 18 October 2023