For more than 10 years father-of-four Dale Johnson has more often than not revelled in his role as dad’s taxi.
So imagine his joy when he hailed down a black cab for the first time in living memory to get to the Wigan-Warrington Betfred Grand Final … and rather than having a fare to pay ended up winning £1,000.
It was the top prize in a promotion from the league’s title sponsors who had splashed out on ten cabs in the Warrington-based bookie’s colours to take Warrior and Wire fans free of charge to Saturday’s showdown at Old Trafford.
Wigan fan Dale – possibly the first person in the company’s fifty-year history to win big without putting a bet on – was chosen to be in the money as he boarded the taxi at a randomly selected time.
The 35 year old accident and repair estimator who lives with his family at Dakins Road, Leigh said: “I just couldn’t believe it. It is unheard of to be given money in a taxi rather than having to put my hand in my pocket. It will come in very handy indeed for we’re off to Wales on holiday soon – and we’ll all be able to make sure we have a great Christmas.”
Dale had to give up his beloved Wigan season ticket as he couldn’t get to as many matches as he wanted because of his dad’s taxi service duties!
He explained: “I started getting interested in rugby when I was about eight and played for Golborne Parkside and my mum took me to Central Park.
“Now my daughter Skye who is 13 plays rugby league for Leigh East and rugby union for St Helens West Park so I’m her taxi driver for training and matches. It is a similar story with my nine year old son Riley who plays for Leigh East Bears – and now his six year old brother Rhys who plays for Leigh East Tigers.
“I read about these special taxis and when I saw one near the ground thought I would get in for a free trip which I knew would be nice – and make a change with someone else driving for a change! My wife Danielle still can’t believe it. What a day it turned out to be. I was shouting and screaming in the final with it being too close for my liking.”
Betfred boss Fred Done said: “ It is fantastic that a die-hard, passionate rugby fan who is something of a good samaritan for his kids should pick up enough for a few hundred pies for merely trying to get to the game on time! I can’t remember having my pockets emptied by someone who didn’t even get a bet on.”