WHATEVER happens now, it will not be as mad as the night Alex Walmsley had when he became a father.
The St Helens prop was forced into a hasty dash from their match at Wakefield after being told partner Simone Clark was giving birth.
Walmsley admits he moaned when he first got the message to come off with 10 minutes left before it sunk in.
Then it was straight down the tunnel and straight into a car for a 72 mile dash to meet his new arrival, son Atticus John.
Things were so hasty, though, Walmsley was still in his kit when he arrived and had to pop to accident and emergency to get a wound stitched!
“The conditioner came on and said, ‘That’s you now,’ and our coach Justin Holbrook said, ‘We’ve had the call. Simone’s gone into labour.’
“I can’t repeat exactly what I said at first, but it was something along the lines of, ‘I don’t want to come off. I feel pretty good and I’m full of energy. I’m flying here.’
“But I pretty much ran into the changing rooms, swapped my boots for trainers, grabbed my bag and jumped into the car with Kyle Amor.
“For the last couple of away games I’ve been driving myself in case something happened. Simone was due on the Sunday before the game and she was going to be induced on the Saturday after.
“I spoke with Justin as we knew how big a game it was and Simone really wanted me to play.
“She was showing a lot of signs but it was a must-win game and her and her parents thought it was best for me to be there.
“Simone actually had her first contraction at 5pm but left it as long as possible to try and let me get through the game. Her mum, Lesley, was with her saying, ‘You’ve got to ring Alex!’ She was like, ‘No, leave it until the second half!’
“Fortunately, Kyle was there but at the time I went off we were losing. I was in the car constantly on my phone and Kyle had Sky Go going on his phone, so as you can imagine it was a bit crazy in that car!
“I’d just got on the M62 at the Wakefield end when I got the call to say that the baby had been born.
“I got a few funny looks when I arrived at Whiston Hospital in my kit. They must’ve thought, ‘Who’s this weirdo?’
“I was still in my kit and still strapped up. I actually cut my knee in the game and had to have stitches. So I had to leave the delivery suite at 2.30am to go down to A and E and get my stitches put in!”
Walmsley had a double reason to celebrate as Jonny Lomax’s late try snatched a win for Saints that keeps their top four hopes alive.
But that and tonight’s clash with Huddersfield paled into insignificance when he first set sight on Atticus, named after the character Atticus Finch from the book To Kill A Mockingbird.
“It’s one of my favourite books,” added prop Walmsley, 27. “Someone said to me, ‘You’ve put no pressure on him there by naming him after one of the greatest characters in modern literature.’
“I read the book again over the summer and we were struggling for names at the time. I said, ‘What about Atticus?’ and Simone thought about it for a while and said, Yeah, I quite like that, I quite like Atty.’
“It’s been a crazy few days to be honest. It’s been hectic and really overwhelming to be honest, the ecstasy I’m feeling is unbelievable.
“He’s awesome. The only complaint I have is he doesn’t really like sleeping at 2am! He likes to be up but other than that, he’s perfect.”
Atticus my only be a week old but he already has a sporting achievement. When she was five months pregnant, Simone ran the London Marathon.
And talks have already been held about what if daddy is called up by England for this year’s World Cup in Australia.
Walmsley said: “I’ve said I’ll go and Simone and Attivus can come out and see me. But it’s strange, Tuesday was my first day back at training and I missed him like mad – God knows what I’d be like if I went out to Australia for eight weeks!
“But it’s long been an ambition of mine to represent my country and if I get that chance, as tough as it will be to be away from him, I’ll take it.”
ON THE HOME STRAIGHT
Wakefield coach Chris Chester is no longer being driven around the bend by woes at work
England star Gareth Widdop believes he and George Williams can play together at the World Cup
Hull KR coach Tim Sheens is not getting excited ahead of a potential return to Super League
Castleford coach Daryl Powell feels a fourth win over Leeds could be a huge blow in the battle for Super League
GOING FOUR IT
Wigan skipper Sean O’Loughlin insists the Super League champions can still defend their title
NO STORM-Y OUTLOOK
Hull star Josh Griffin reveals why he did not move to Australian side Melbourne Storm