'My boyfriend popped the question at a Sheffield Steelers game in front of 9,000 people - it was an easy yes'

“I don’t even think I said yes properly,” Jessica told The Star. “I think I just did a stupid little dance and hugged him."
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Jessica and Callum were strangers at a Sheffield Steelers game in 2022 when they brushed past each other in a beer queue.

Now they’re getting married - and the Steelers were there for that too.

Over 9,000 people at a Sheffield Steelers game at the Utilita Arena cheered as Callum Johnson popped the question to Jessica Wilkinson, the girl he met in a queue at a home game a year and a half before.Over 9,000 people at a Sheffield Steelers game at the Utilita Arena cheered as Callum Johnson popped the question to Jessica Wilkinson, the girl he met in a queue at a home game a year and a half before.
Over 9,000 people at a Sheffield Steelers game at the Utilita Arena cheered as Callum Johnson popped the question to Jessica Wilkinson, the girl he met in a queue at a home game a year and a half before.
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Over 9,000 people lining the Utilita Arena cheered and applauded on March 30 when Callum, live on the big screen and holding a microphone provided by fan favourite announcer David Simms, got on one knee and popped the question.

“I don’t even think I said yes properly,” Jessica told The Star. “I think I just did a stupid little dance and hugged him. I was so excited and shocked.”

The beautiful moment was filmed and shared by the Steelers on their official Facebook page and has been watched over 24,000 times.

"It was an easy yes. Actually, I don't think I said yes properly. I just did a stupid little dance and hugged him.""It was an easy yes. Actually, I don't think I said yes properly. I just did a stupid little dance and hugged him."
"It was an easy yes. Actually, I don't think I said yes properly. I just did a stupid little dance and hugged him."

Of course, it only came after weeks of nail biting planning by Callum, their families, and the ice hockey team’s staff to keep Jessica in the dark.

But first, let’s go back to how they met.

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Callum Johnson and Jessica Wilkinson, now both 29, were strangers when they saw the Steelers play a home game in September 2022. But the connection took just a second.

Jessica said: “I was standing in a beer queue and Callum just walked past and that was that.”

Callum said: “I was on my way to the loo and passed through the beer queue. I don’t know, I just said ‘hello’ - then on the way back it happened again, and I just said ‘me again’. That was that.”

They admittedly slipped away from each other at first. No harm was done though - they matched on a dating app less than a week later. And yes, Jess recognised him as the lad from the Steelers queue.

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Jess said: “I thought it would be a bit much if I opened straight away with ‘do you remember me?!’ so I didn’t say it at first. I guess I was playing it cool.”

“Then after we had been talking a few days and there was this lightbulb moment,” finishes Callum. “I said ‘wait, were you in the queue at Steelers?’”

What a story to tell the grandkids. The only thing that could top it is the proposal. The Steelers were there for the start, and Callum decided the Steelers would be there for the next big step too.

But the plan grew considerably when Callum found Jess’ mum had a number for an event organiser with the team - and it just took off from there.

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Callum said: “The Steelers’ staff were really excited to be part of it. They were raring to go.

“There was a moment the days leading up to it all when Jess looked in the one drawer she normally never, ever looks in where I was hiding the ring. That was terrifying.

“The original plan, I thought, was there was going to be an announcement over the loudspeakers, I would say what I needed to say and take a knee.

“But on the night, I saw the organisers ahead of time and they had a new idea.

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“When I heard it, I said - in quite a few words - that they must be joking. They laughed and said I’d be fine.”

Because the new plan was now that Callum would get to do his proposal in front of 9,000 people - with a microphone.

Jess and Callum took their seats, and Callum could only wait out the next hour, sweating bullets, trying not to pat himself to make sure the ring was still there and give the game away.

Meanwhile, the couple’s friends and both of their mums had joined them for the night. One of them had a confetti cannon in their pocket. Jess’ dad and his partner were also seated just a few rows back so they could be there too - but as more traditionally footie fans, they had to be hidden, or else Jess would see all their family members were at the game and cotton on. Everything was in place.

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Callum said: “I watched the game but didn’t pay attention to any of it. One of Jess’ friends texted me ‘how are the sweat patches?’ 

Even Jess sensed his nerves.

“I remember saying to him, ‘what’s wrong with you?’,” said Jess. “I saw him shaking. He’s normally so into it. I thought he was acting very strange.”

Jess and Callum’s brush in the queue a year and a half before was during the game’s second break, and it was during the second break announcer David Simms walked through the stands.

“I’m looking for the winner of a special Steelers competition,” said David as he arrived near the couple’s seats, theatrically looking around. “His name is Callum Johnson.”

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Jess grabbed Callum’s leg and shouted: “Oh, that’s you!... What competitions have you been entering?”

David arrived and saw her excitement. He said: “You’re very happy love - you don’t know what the prize is yet.”

The moment had come. The Steelers’ camera team got in position. David then said: “Callum, take the mic.”

Callum told The Star: “Honestly, my heart dropped. I was so nervous.”

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But, as thousands of people on the day and thousands more have seen in the video online, it went off without a hitch.

Noticeably, as the clip shows, Callum forgot to ask the question - he got to one knee, pulled out the ring and said ‘Jess?’ But, then again, Jess forgot to say yes - instead she shrieked, did what she called “stupid little dance” and hugged him as the arena cheered. The team on the ice banged their sticks in celebration.

Jess told The Star: “At first I was still expecting a prize.

“I think the whole arena twigged what was going on before I did. I thought I was more switched on to these things.

“It was absolutely an easy yes.

“It still seems surreal.”

Jess, Callum and family after the plan was complete. Callum worked with the Steelers' staff and both their families to make the moment come together.Jess, Callum and family after the plan was complete. Callum worked with the Steelers' staff and both their families to make the moment come together.
Jess, Callum and family after the plan was complete. Callum worked with the Steelers' staff and both their families to make the moment come together.
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Callum said: “There were 15 minutes of the game left but we didn’t watch any of it. We were in our own little world. We caught the highlights later to see what happened.”

Since then, Callum and Jess haven’t had much time to discuss plans, but think the wedding will be in 2026.

Callum said: “We just can’t thank the Steelers staff enough for everything they did. It was just incredible. We were even presented with a card signed by all the players afterwards saying congratulations.“

Announcer David Simms, who said this is the 11th proposal the Steelers have helped with, congratulated the couple and told The Star: “Who doesn’t like seeing people smile and being a part of that? There were 9,200 people cheering on the day. It’s wonderful to be able to do that kind of thing for a job and I’m sure all the staff agree.

“Thanks to Jess and Callum for sharing this moment with us and a huge congratulations.

“Now, we’ll need to look into getting a wedding licence for the arena.”

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