A View from the North East Corner - 16/5
The dust has settled on Wednesday's promotion to the Championship, and Vital Wednesday blogger Chris Mace gives us his thoughts on the campaign.
So, the dust has settled, the play-offs have started and the cleaners have picked all the litter up off the pitch at Hillsborough after the invasion. It's now my job to try and summarise how we feel about the season that's just finished and try and put our feelings into words.
I've got to start by talking about the game last week. Maybe all the years of disappointment have rubbed off on me because driving my car to Hillsborough, I was a trembling wreck! The sight of so many people in the ground though was staggering, and as I pointed out in my last article there were more home fans there since the 1980s.
To see the west stand awash with blue and white was brilliant. My nerves didn't settle until the first goal went in. I let it all out in one of those mental celebrations that involves running down the isle, jumping into the row below and hugging random men with tattoos who normally I would cross the street to avoid.
A huge amount of credit needs to go to the players for that performance. They were utterly professional from start to finish and never showed a single sniff of nerves. They treated it like any other game, stuck to the game plan, and waited for the goals to come.
I've got no doubt that if that game had been played on a freezing cold Tuesday night in February, the players would have put in exactly the same performance. They deserve huge respect for that, as does Dave Jones for being the level headed man that he is and instilling that sense of confidence and belief in them.
Before the season, my family have a bit of fun by listing predictions for the top six and bottom three from all the football divisions. There's no money involved, just family pride at stake, which is significant given that between us we support 4 different teams (don't ask!).
I always try to write these predictions with a level head, being as objective as I can about where I think we will finish - otherwise I look a complete fool come the end of the season. With this level headedness I put us down to finish 3rd this year. I thought long and hard about the players we had brought in last summer and came to the conclusion that we would be a solid unit, difficult to beat, but ultimately lacking the quality needed to get into the top 2.
I've never been so pleased to have been proved wrong. For most of the season, I looked like being right, but what we have done well this season is do the business when it really mattered. The combination at the end of the season of Dave Jones' arrival and 2-3 quality loan signings has really made the difference to our season and propelled us into the top 2 at the expense of our rivals.
This should be a season never to forget for Wednesday fans. Without being pessimistic, I imagine it'll be a long time before we accumulate 90+ points in a season again or have such an exceptional record at Hillsborough - 17 wins from 23 matches is remarkable - and something we should be really proud of.
What I will never forget though is the epic tussle with our neighbours. To have two teams in the city playing so well, with only the odd point separating them all season has been brilliant. It has been a proper rivalry this season - no arguments about who won the FA cup more recently or who has the bigger attendances - just quality football characterised by two teams scoring goals and winning games. The turning point has to be the 1-0 win at Hillsborough, much the same as it was when we won by a larger margin in 1979.
The success from the jaws of defeat in the last 2 games has turned this season from an incredible one into one of the best seasons ever for Wednesdayites. Yes, I know it was in the 3rd Division - but in the end, what any football fan wants is promotion, good football, winning matches and beating rivals.
We did it all this year.
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