Football League: Diary of a play-off hopeful – Part 1.

Laura Jones has kept a diary of what it’s like to be a fan of a team competing in the Football League play-offs. In Laura’s case, Sheffield Wednesday.

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29th April 2016

We only need a point tomorrow against Cardiff City. One tiny point and Sheffield Wednesday will be a play-off contender. Psychologically that one little point could put too much pressure on us. We’ve stopped Cardiff from getting into the play-offs in 2009 on the last day of the season. What if they want revenge?

30th April 2016

What was I worrying about?

3-0 and a comprehensive, confident performance from The Owls. It feels good to watch us play so freely. I haven’t seen a Wednesday team like this for 20 years. Just got to wait to see who falls into third place now. Will it be Boro, Brighton or Burnley?

5th May 2016

“You are 480 in the queue.” This is just the queue to get onto the Sheffield Wednesday website.

Tickets go on sale at 9am today. It’s time to do the very modern British thing of cyber queuing.

“You are 277 in the queue.” It’s 8.47am

8.58am Finally onto the webpage. I select the last lonely seat within an inflatables’ throw from my own seat and sit and watch as the screen hangs for seven minutes on the credit card authentication page. Did it go through? Have I got to get back in that bloody online queue again?

9.02am Ticket bought and more importantly email confirmation has come through.

9.15am I watch Twitter implode as the website fails to cope with the demand, frustration and expectation of the Wednesday fans. My timeline was just a scrolling list of anxiousness.

Without going all Verruca Salt, waving my golden ticket and shouting ‘Daddy I want a Barry Bannan’, I spent the rest of the morning answering questions like an unofficial IT support desk and counselling those who hadn’t quite made it yet; such is the importance of this game to us success starved Wednesdayites.

7th May 2016

So we play Brighton. They finished 15 points ahead of us. It doesn’t seem fair to them somehow but we have to forget that. Promotion is just three games away. This isn’t the league anymore. This is last man standing.

12th May 2016

7pm Pack the boyfriend and tiny human into the car to travel back to the motherland. Another season of 400 mile round trips for every home match. Play-offs feel like a reward for travelling on Megabus all these years.

13th May 2016

6.48am Friday the 13th. Why did it have to play on Friday the 13th?

9am Check for team news.

9.30am Check for team news again. It’s going to be a long day.

12.45pm In Halfords pretending I care about back brake lights. I can’t stop thinking about a Gary Hooper brace.

6.30pm Fed, cleaned and handed the tiny human over to his grandparents. Put on a Wednesday shirt and walked to the ground. It was eerily quiet on the streets around Hillsborough. Thousands of fans but barely a peep out of them. Despite the tension I feel weirdly confident. The sort of confidence I felt before the Arsenal cup game this season. Can’t be that easy can it?

9.45pm

Well that was a little bit amazing!

2-0. 2-0! Keep saying it to make yourself believe it. 2-0.

Brighton were unlucky with their injuries but let’s not take anything away from The Owls, we just looked capable of doing this. We look capable of getting promoted. If I’d said that aloud pre-season someone would have had me medicated.

After Kieran Lee’s goal, Hillsborough lit up with thousands of lights from the mobiles of jubilant fans. All four sides of ground sparkled like it was Christmas Eve and we were just giddy kids waiting to receive our presents.

It was honestly one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at a game.

Later when I looked online and other fans were laughing at us and saying Hillsborough looked like a Barry Manilow concert. If Barry Manilow creates an atmosphere and plays like that every time then I’d buy a ticket.

No play-off team with a two-goal advantage has ever lost a semi-final. I can’t help thinking we should have pressed for a third goal…

It’s now all down to Monday evening.

Read more from Laura Jones here

Follow Laura at @YICETOR

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