When St Helens and Warrington Wolves take to the Wembley Stadium pitch tomorrow with rugby league Challenge Cup glory in their sights, a Broughton Moor man will keep a watchful eye to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Cliff Hodgson, 78, of Heatherfields, will be the match commissioner for the RFL’s showpiece event – the culmination of nearly 60 years in the sport.

Hodgson was a keen rugby player as a young man but his promising career was ended prematurely by a shoulder injury and he saw picking up the whistle as the next best thing.

The job stuck, and Hodgson was a referee until 2001, including a spell as a professional during the 1980s which saw him officiate games across England and abroad.

A life member of the Cumbria Rugby League Referees Society, Hodgson assessed officiating for a number of years before the sport moved to using match commissioners.

Selection to be at the helm for tomorrow’s final is the pinnacle of his career and a proud moment for him and his family.

“I’ve done semi-finals before and international matches, but this is the icing on the cake,” he said.

“This is the pinnacle of the season really – everybody wants to go to Wembley.

“I’ll be effectively running the game from inspecting the field markings and making sure the players are on the teamsheets and that they’re handed in on time, to checking the drug boxes to ensure they’re supplied.

“It’s everything connected with the game and trying to make sure it’s running smoothly.

“It’s a very important job.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to meeting Prince Harry – who will be presenting the trophy – and I’ll get a medal from him.

“I’ve hoped for this for a few years now and, now it’s finally come around, I’m looking forward to it immensely.”

Hodgson will travel to the capital with his wife Beryl today, with more of his family set to attend.