Is that Roman numerals for 14? Either way, whilst I regret opting for that style of numbering, we have a really important update from Matt Porter as we reach May 1998. Can Stockport get over the line and secure Premier League football? Catch up with Part 13 here
Well its d-day, or d- 2 days which doesn’t really have the same ring to it. The nervous excitement is palpable around the town, and it DEFINITELY isn’t because our near neighbours Man United are fighting for the Premier League, this is much bigger.
Birmingham at home is our first of the 2 big days, and they are still within a shout of overtaking us. Lauchlan is coming in for Woodthorpe and Heidenstrom returns for Bennett, Armstrong and Walton are still unavailable. There is a party atmosphere in the stands, and I am praying it is still the case after the match. Nerves are unbelievably jangling, but I try to hid them in front of the players, don’t bottle it boys, don’t bottle it!
Oh the perfect start, Steve Bruce takes out Charana when through on goal and the red card is produced after only three minutes. It is fairly uneventful for the rest of the half, we have a couple of chances, but Tomlinson sends the crowd wild 5 minutes before half time to send us into the lead.
The tension was so much that I forgot one again to screenshot half time, but the second half is an absolute cake walk. I was worried we’d become complacent, but to be fair it was well placed complacency. We absolutely batter them and I can even rest players towards the end. 3-0 and it could easily be more. The crowd are going wild, we are 1 game away, just 1 game!
Sheffield United win so it goes to the final day, if we equal their result we go up. We are so close, Port Vale away is all that stands in the way. Sheffield United have Huddersfield away, surely they would like to see a Yorkshire rival fail? Neither opposition have anything to play for
Well what I didn’t realise was that it is a Monday game, yet another bloody back to back, why?! Walton is available again and on the bench, and Heidenstrom is knackered so Bennett comes in. Truth be told a lot of players are knackered but I can’t risk wholesale changes. Last game if we win! I try to keep the nerves down to a minimum in the dressing room with a rousing speech, but the huge away following do the job for me really.
A fairly mundane first half, but mundane is good when we go 1-0 up and the opposition rarely threaten. The only blot is losing Cavaco to injury just before half time but fit again Tom Youngs is a more than ideal replacement. 45 minutes from the Premier League, don’t fuck it up, don’t fuck it up, don’t fuck it up…
I make a sub at half time to bring Heidenstrom on for Carlita who is knackered, and then a few minutes later Tomlinson goes off injured, so we have to ride out 40 minutes with no possible extra subs, plus playing a centre back at wing back. Tom Youngs misses 2 golden chances, but little else happens until the 90th minute when Port Vale attack….. but it comes to nothing! Unless Sheffireld United have scored 16, we are Premier League!!!! Come on the boys! Port Vale have never seen the like, we celebrate long into the night, unbelievable Jeff!!!
As it turned out we could have lost 20-0 and we’d have still gone up as Sheffield United lost, I don’t care either way, we are Premier League say we are Premier League! 7 wins in a row conceding only 1 goal, what a well-timed run. Can we do it in a division above? Well right now I don’t care, we have beaten the odds despite that awful run before Christmas, a well-deserved celebration I think is in order.
So you should be…
Wow, I thought my achievement was impressive… My hangover from our celebration at Vale has just about gone now, 2 weeks later…
Sheffield United will join us in the Prem, I am glad for them, they deserved it over the season, behind us of course!
So that’s it for now, thanks for joining me and I hope you have enjoyed reading about our exploits, and apologies if you are Ian Gray, no offence just needed a figure of fun! Next week, pre-season, I think I may need a few reinforcements…
Matt will be back soon but in the mean time you can follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt