Wembley: 10 Years Ago
Some 10 years on, it's still difficult to watch Blackpool celebrate promotion to the Premier League through the Play-Offs at Wembley.
They are a similar club in terms of stature and they've surprised everyone by being there as we did in 2000.
I was 14 years old when I made the long trip down to the twin towers as they were to watch my team compete in 90 minutes against another for the final place in the Premier League.
We had finished 4th in league behind our opponents Ipswich Town in 3rd and went to Wembley as underdogs but we were used to that - the underdogs bit not the going to Wembley!
The two funniest memories I have of the event came at different times. Firstly the ride on the tube began with a struggle to get on board, as everyone who had driven down had to park and ride, and there were a lot of us, pushed and shoved to get on the train. I remember being on the tube, ready to embark on the final route to the stadium when I was startled by a sharp rapping on the window of the train. Looking up I was greeted by a man dressed entirely like Ali G, but for a Barnsley scarf around his neck, holding up a centrefold from what I shall call a 'gentleman's publication', gesturing to be let on the train and shouting 'Aaaiii!'
The other great memory came after I returned home and viewed the game on tape. Chris Morgan came out of the dressing room to line up in the tunnel just before kick off and as he walked by the Sky camera yelled at the top of his voice (at 3pm in the afternoon with millions watching) 'Let's f**king 'ave 'em!'
I can still remember the first goal well although I'm eternally disappointed to see that it had been credited as a Richard Wright own goal. Hignett struck from 30 yards out against the bar and it bounced back in off the back off the Ipswich goalkeeper. The perfect start after just six minutes!
Jim Magilton crossed for Tony Mowbray to level things up on 28 minutes with a header at the back post.
We should have retaken the lead just before half-time when Wright brought Hignett down in the box but Darren Barnard's poor penalty was well saved by Wright to give Ipswich the impetus in the second half.
Within fifteen minutes of the restart we were 3-1 behind and the game was all but over for Barnsley as Richard Naylor and Marcus Stewart forged a lead for Ipswich Town.
Twelve minutes from time, Barnsley were dealt the cruel card of hope when Geoff Thomas was brought down by Tony Mowbray, for Craig Hignett to slam home Barnsley's second goal, from the penalty spot.
However, for all our pressure we couldn't force an equaliser and we were left short at the back when Martin Reuser broke to seal promotion for the Tractor Boys with a good finish from outside the area.
All in all it was a rollercoaster of emotion, one that I will never forget. The talk of getting rid of the Play-Offs is rife at this time of year with polls running here, there and everywhere on whether or not they're fair. All I know is, I don't regret that game, or that season one bit. The trip to Wembley still holds it's magic, even though we didn't win.
Finally, the Ipswich Town fans were a credit to their team and both sets off fans were able to walk together up Wembley Way and back down again after the game. They have a very nice humility about them and respect for other teams' supporters. I can't say the same about losing at Wembley to Cardiff City.
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