Ratchford’s current club Warrington Wolves meet Salford in a fifth round tie at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday (3.00pm) knowing that victory will leave them just two wins from a fourth appearance at Wembley in five years and the utility back is keen to ensure nothing gets in the way of a return to the national stadium.
“It’s always an honour to be involved in the Challenge Cup and every game in the competition is special,” said Ratchford. “It’s a great competition with a fantastic history and the more games you can play in it as a player the better.
“To be playing against my former club makes it even more special. After Warrington, Salford are the first club whose score I look for each week. I spent a long time there as a young player and the club will always have a place in my heart.
“I’m still in touch with some of the lads who were there when I was playing and now that Brian Noble has taken over hopefully we will see the club take steps forward and turn the tide on their recent seasons.
“However all that will be put to one side this weekend – I’ll be going out there to put in a big performance and hopefully help the team come away with a good win.”
Ratchford has already experienced the ultimate high of winning the competition’s showpiece final at Wembley, having played a part in the 35-18 victory over Leeds Rhinos in 2012 and he says that experience is one that he would love to repeat this season.
“The experience of winning the Cup at Wembley is almost impossible to describe,” he said. “As we closed in on the final last season, going through the quarters and semis, the lads who’d been there before were talking about what it was like but nothing comes close to describing the feeling.
“Standing in the tunnel knowing that you’re about to walk out in front of 70,000 fans at Wembley is an amazing feeling and just to get that far is a dream come true.
“As a kid growing up you dream of making it to that stage and then to go on and win and lift the trophy is just unreal. It really is a special feeling and one that everyone at the club is hoping to experience again this season.
“There’s an aura that comes with being involved in the latter stages of the Cup and we’re fully focused on performing this weekend and ensuring we take that next step towards Wembley.”
Tickets for the 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24 are now on sale. Visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call 0844 856 1113 for full details.
For further information on this season’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup, please visit www.thechallengecup.com, www.facebook.com/TetleysChallengeCup or follow @TetleysChCup.