A view from the North East Corner
Vital blogger Chris Mace anticipates Saturday's massive promotion decider against Wycombe Wanderers...
As predicted, Sheffield Wednesday's promotion campaign has come down to a do or die match. A single game of 90 minutes, where winning means promotion and anything else doesn't bear thinking about. But it's not the trip to Wembley we were expecting.
I'll be the first to admit that after the draw at Colchester, gaining five points over our rivals in just three games seemed a bridge too far and I'd accepted that a trip to Wembley was almost inevitable.
To say Football is an unpredictable game is an understatement, and the events of the last three weeks proves that. The loss of United's star player in circumstances so disgraceful was a shock to everyone - no more so it seems than to his fellow teammates, and even our city neighbours would have to admit that they haven't quite been the same without him.
Our continued form is nothing short of incredible. To go undefeated since mid-February is a huge achievement, especially when so many of those games have been wins.
United fans will say that they've thrown it away, and they definitely have a point looking at the last two games, but when you look at the form of both teams since the big derby win in February, we've been by far the better of the two - and top of the form table for the whole league by quite some distance. I really feel that over the last two months we've deservedly crept into second place rather than simply United throwing it away.
The form book is out of the window on Saturday though, as nerves get to the players and fans.
Megson said last summer that he wanted to sign players who could cope with the pressure of playing at Hillsborough, and we will certainly see whether that is the case this weekend. The players should absolutely relish the chance to play in front of just under 40,000 home fans, screaming them on from four sides of the ground whilst simultaneously feeling that inner sense of anticipation.
Before the Manchester derby earlier this week, someone I know from the south coast posted on Facebook that he's never felt so much anticipation before any match before - and he wasn't even going! He has no idea what we're going through!
For years we've suffered as Wednesday fans - 12 years outside the Premier League with very little to cheer about. The play-off final seven years ago was a big game - but I feel this is a much bigger game than that. This is potentially the start of something massive for us - so much so that I feel physically sick thinking about it, and I'll feel worse on Saturday at 3pm. This is what real football supporting is all about - commitment to your team through the tough days, so that you can revel in the excitement and anticipation of games like the one on Saturday. In my 20-plus years of following Wednesday I can say absolutely that I've never felt this much anticipation before.
This is our play-off final, but not when we expected, where we expected or against who we expected. We've got a massive home advantage. Hillsborough will have more Wednesday fans in it at the same time since the 1980s, and we're not playing one of the top teams in the league. It should be easy on paper - but it doesn't work like that in real life. Here's something Wednesday fans haven't said enough in the last 12 years:
I can't wait for the weekend!
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