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Who will win at Wembley?

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Paul Fletcher | 23:20 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Football League season ends this weekend with the three play-off finals at Wembley.

Back in August there were 72 teams harbouring ambitions of promotion, just six still retain that ambition - and three of them will realise it over the coming days.

I would wager that there are few men more determined to spend their summer holiday contemplating life in a higher division than Burnley defender Graham Alexander.

His previous involvement in the play-offs came in a Preston shirt against West Ham in the Championship final in 2005. Alexander was 33 then and in his sixth play-off campaign. He had been a North End player for six years and the not unreasonable consensus among many fans was that the final was the right-back's last crack at the big time. Preston lost 1-0.

Fast forward four years and a lot has changed in the life of Alexander. He left Preston for Burnley in 2007 and is more likely to be found in a holding midfield role nowadays, cajoling his team-mates and directing operations. But arguably the most successful season in his long career could yet culminate with the Scotland international finally reaching the Promised Land.

Burnley play Sheffield United in Monday's Championship play-off final hoping to end a 33-year exile from the top flight of English football.

Burnley's Graham Alexander, Millwall's Djimi Abdou and Gillingham's Simeon JacksonIt will be their 61st game of a season in which the Clarets came within minutes of Wembley in the Carling Cup and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup. Burnley, as manager Owen Coyle is quick to point out, have used fewer players than any other team in the Championship but they have somehow resisted the onset of fatigue to seal their place in the play-off final with a semi-final victory over Reading.

Coyle has won plenty of generous praise this season, while Alexander, arguably the best penalty-taker in the game today, has played in every game. The Lancashire club has deservedly made plenty of friends along the way and seem to have an irresistible momentum about them.

The spectacular second-leg strikes by Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson at Reading spoke of fearlessness and a desire to express themselves; a group of players, in other words, modelled in the image of their manager. For vim and enthusiasm they are top of the pile.

But they have also been solid at the back of late, conceding just eight goals in 13 games since their FA Cup defeat to Arsenal in March. Alexander has spoken of the confidence his team gleaned from their cup exploits and I would not be surprised if they leave Wembley victorious.

But it won't be easy against a Sheffield United team that I thought not only outplayed Preston in their semi-final tie but impressed with their attitude. They played with great desire but they tempered their celebrations - it was the behaviour of a team that understands the most difficult task is yet to come. I thought it was telling that when manager Kevin Blackwell was asked about the significance of the play-offs he chose to point out that losing a final while in charge at Leeds cost him his job.

There is a definite story of unfinished business about the Blades. The bitter taste has not been cleansed after their relegation from the Premier League in 2007, though champagne on Monday might do just that. The lingering spectre of Carlos Tevez has been extinguished in the courts but needs to be done so on the field of play as well.

United have the tools to do the job - even if Jamie Ward and Darius Henderson miss out - and this is a tricky final to call, although I think Burnley have shown time and again this season they know how to win.

Scunthorpe only just made the play-offs, scoring a late goal to draw 1-1 with Tranmere on the final day of the regular season to snatch sixth place from their opponents. Their play-off semi-final against MK Dons was another tight affair, settled after a penalty shoot-out. But seven weeks to the day since their defeat to Luton in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, the Iron return to Wembley looking to bounce straight back to the Championship.

After defeat to the Hatters, manager Nigel Adkins looked at his crushed and deflated players in the dressing-room and told them to bottle what they felt at that moment, to use it as a powerful motivating tool. What he said made a lot of sense and suggested a man who can seek out the positives from a largely disappointing situation.

Sheffield United's Greg Halford, Grant McCann of Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury duo David Worrell and Luke DanielsI just hope their final against Millwall produces the excitement of the Iron's 3-2 defeat to Luton, while another goal of the quality of midfielder Grant McCann's strike against the Hatters would be most welcome. McCann, a Northern Ireland international, has a sweet left foot and if you haven't seen too much of him, watch out if he is in possession in and around the opposition box.

To be frank, I did not expect Millwall to reach the final, simply because I did not expect anyone to beat Leeds. I thought - wrongly - the Yorkshire club had a momentum and confidence through the final weeks of the season that would take them all the way. In drawing with Leeds at Elland Road, Kenny Jackett's team deserve the highest praise.

I was particularly impressed with Zak Whitbread during the semi-finals. He might not be the skipper but he leads the back four, dictating the line they should hold, and along with Tony Craig remained strong against the considerable threat of Jermaine Beckford and Luciano Becchio. He also showed courage and determination in recovering from a blow to the head that looked particularly nasty as his team edged towards the final whistle at Leeds.

Second leg goalscorer Djimi Abdou is another one to watch, while many neutrals would be thrilled to see Neil Harris score at Wembley, and I think the Lions might edge a close final on Sunday.

The first final of the weekend sees Gillingham play Shrewsbury in the League Two encounter on Saturday. Before looking at that tie I'd like to mention both Bury and Rochdale. They have both had terrific seasons while operating on modest budgets, particularly the Shakers, who missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, and Alan Knill deserves great credit for the job he has done at Gigg Lane.

Shrewsbury, of course, sneaked past Bury on penalties, some would say with a hint of fortune in their favour. However, there is no doubt that Shrews boss Paul Simpson knows how to get out of League two - he did it with Carlisle.

Simpson could be forgiven for using the events of 13 September as inspiration for his pre-match team-talk. The Shrews smashed Gillingham 7-0 in a League Two fixture at the New Meadow - though Gills boss Mark Stimson might counter by pointing out that Liverpool hammered Crystal Palace 9-0 in a league fixture in 1989 but were beaten 4-3 by the same opposition in a classic FA Cup semi-final towards the end of the campaign.

Incidentally, my attention was drawn to a superb headline on the Kent News website the other day - "Chairman Scally: 'Gills can be a Premiership team'". One step at a time Paul.

Both teams have very useful lower league strikers in Grant Holt (20 goals for the Shrews) and Simeon Jackson (19 for Gillingham) and I'm hoping for an open game to set the tone for a gripping weekend. Holt versus Gills centre back Simon King should be a fascinating contest.

Some of the semi-final ties were understandably cagey at times but as the curtain comes down on the Football League season I have high hopes for a weekend of exciting and dramatic football (subject to plenty of early goals).

All three ties look very close but I'm tipping Burnley, Millwall and Gillingham - so fans of United, Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury can expect a weekend of unbridled joy and success.


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  • Comment number 1.

    As a Gills fan I think if Simpson thinks repeating the performance from when they beat us 7-0 will lead to victory then I think he is not necessarily delusional but not far off.

    Yes Luke Daniels and the winger Davies had exceptionally good games but my personal opinion is that it was more Gillingham lost the game rather than Shrewsbury won it. Frankly if the defence had stayed at home the impact would have been negliable.

    However, since Crofts was dumped as a player & captain the Gills have developed a backbone and our 1st choice defence, which will be available on Sat, has become arguably our most consistent and strongest weapon.

    Now some might accuse me of trying to spin a positive out of a negative ahead of our biggest game of the season but this is a message I have been saying pretty much all season (as anyone who has seen me comment on it on 606 can attest to).

    In terms of League 1 I obviously will be supporting Scunthorpe given my dislike of Millwall and in the Championship I will be routing for Burnley because unlike most football supporters I don't have the sympathy most do for Sheff Utd over the Tevez affair.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good analysis Fletch, And good luck to all of them, nothing like being promoted from Wembley. I'm sure the Shrews will be looking to put the memories of 2007 to bed when we (Bristol Rovers) beat them 3-1, they played very well that day. I am also very tempted by a wager on Scunthorpe seeing as how they lost the JPT Final 3-2 in extra time and snuck into the playoffs in the last minute of the season just as we did in '07 before getting promoted. The championship final is very difficult to call, I think the sensible money should be on United but Burnley have form coming into the game as well. Should be an awesome weekend's football.

  • Comment number 3.

    Obviously as a Burnley fan, there is no question who I want to win Monday's game.

    As for the other two...

    I would have liked Leeds to go up. A big club, who, despite screwing up miserably in recent years, would have made the championship a bit more interesting. As it stands.. I'm going to have to go fo Scunny. Had a great day there a few years back when we got promoted, and the fans are great, and the stadium is superb. Never liked Millwall, never will. Blame their small minority of fans: ripping out seats and throwing them at ballboys' heads isn't exactly going to make me warm to a club!!!

    Gillingham or Shrewsbury? Could go either way... and I will happilly watch as a neutral. Hopefully a free-flowing, open game with goals galore and enough fans to make a decent atmosphere (I reckon at least 40,000 fans between the 2 clubs plus extras).

    A quick message to all Sheffield United fans: Best of Luck. It's going to be an incredible atmosphere. Probably the best the new Wembley has ever seen. Apart from West Brom fans, I can't think of any better sets of fans. See you there!! (And I hope you're only smiling before kick off)

  • Comment number 4.

    In reply to comment #3, there will be up to 63,000 fans at the League 2 final as Gillingham are close to selling out their 38k allocation and Shrewsbury seem to be not a million miles off selling their 25k allocation.

  • Comment number 5.

    That's a shame - I had real hope for Burnley, but the ever-reliable Paul Fletcher kiss of death means it's almost certain to be the Blades who join us in the Premier League....

    Nice blog though! Maybe your curse will finally run out this time!

  • Comment number 6.

    I dont understand the 'sensible money is on Sheffield'? Its going to be a very close game but we have beat SU twice this season, not to mention the cup runs! Have you not seen the two goals we scored from the semi final?

  • Comment number 7.

    6 - where does it say that?

    Everyone thinks Burnley are going to win. Haven't heard anyone say us so I don't know what you're moaning about.

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with #6.

    I'm a neutral and a Man City fan, but looking at some of the football that Burnley have played this season, it's incredible!

    In the Carling Cup, they massacred Arsenal at Turf Moor and were so, so unlucky against Spurs where a stupid rule prevented them from going to Wembley.

    I'm going to tip Burnley for this one.

    League One is too close to call, in my opinion, but I think thay Scunnie can edge it.

    As a City fan, I mildly follow Shrewsbury since we got our keeper, Joe Hart from the shrews. I really hope they can do this business at Wembley. Away form really has held them back this year.

  • Comment number 9.

    As a Millwall fan I cant wait for the weekend & im sure its the same for all the supporters of the other five clubs.

    My arms have goose pimples at the thought of 47000 Millwall fans at Wembley, although im a little worried now at the though of being Paul Fletchers tip to win - please dont say that!

    Just like to wish all the teams good luck, have a great weekend and may the best teams go up! Come on you Lions. MIILLLLLLLLL

  • Comment number 10.

    on the first weekend of the season, I predicted that Burnley would be was on 606, but that probably can´t be doesn´t matter.......come on the clarets!!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    All three games will be extremely tight affairs, and although I would not trade in our Champions status (Leicester Fan) for anything, to win promotion at Wembley is the way to do it!

    As for league 1, I am predicting a Millwall win. As from our experience this season against them, they are a very difficult team to beat. Additionally as expected pretty physical too. I like the Scunthorpe team, and think they have a good manager, but I feel that it will swing in the favour of Millwall.

    Fingers crossed for a Burnley win, I like the way they play, their spirit and style is commendable. It's also nice to see one of the more traditional teams back in the top flight, therefore they have my vote to go up. However, United will prove difficult opposition as they are a physical team, but ultimately as mentioned before I fail to feel too much sympathy for them. That might be due to their former manager though, and my personal opinion of him.

    I won't claim to be a league 2 pool of knowledge, however seeing the semi-finals I liked Gillingham, and Jackson up front for them looked like a good player. If he is on song, I see them winning.

    The best thing is however when your a neutral it makes for a fascinating and brilliant weekend of football, its a great way to spend a bank holiday weekend. So its not all bad Leeds fans...

  • Comment number 12.

    re: Graham Alexander. As a clarets fan I am in awe of the 37 year-old, although it could go one of two ways: He's destined never to win a play-off, or now is his time. Either or, being the other side of the world is painful when I should be with the boys at Wembley like the Stockport game.

    Did anyone see Blackwell's face in commentary when it was Burnley beating Reading? He did not want us to win, keep hiding behind our changing room door at halftime buddy and some charisma from Owen might rub-off on you!

    Also, for those who don't realise it is Burnley's 50th anniversary of winning Division One in 1960 and we will be wearing the same kit as that year next season: how apt it would be if we were in the top-flight!

  • Comment number 13.

    It certainly will be a close call in the Shef U and Burnley game. These two teams have proved their worth time and again this season. I only hope that good football prevails on the day, as there is so much at stake it is possible that a negative game may ensue.

    The Blades have already had their chance in the Premier League and its no use blaming the Tevez affair for failure, as one man does not make a team.

    From near extinction and a 33 year wait it would be a travesty of justice if Burnley failed. The Blades will be wearing their traditional shirts, an advantage maybe and they will need them, the Clarets are capable of playing the shirts off the Blades backs. Up the CLARETS !! will just play

  • Comment number 14.

    As an ex Royal navy man,i was based at HMS Pembroke in Chatham,and went to watch the Gills on the rare week-ends that i managed to get off,so i have a soft spot for them.
    However since my homecoming, i have been a season ticket holder at the Shrews and i hope that they play to their full potential at Wembley and make it to the first division.
    Burnley v Sheffield United should be a cracker,but i am edging for Burnley due to a few mates in the Rossendale area,who tell me that on the day they can play very well.
    Millwall v Scunny is a very tough one to call, although i think the Lions will have gained a great deal of confidence from the result at leeds.So for what its worth ...Burnley, Millwall and Shrewsbury.Enjoy

  • Comment number 15.

    Hey, call me what you like. As long as Leeds are stay down and keep going down, I'll be happy.

    I have a long memory.

  • Comment number 16.

    Number 11 - you're so knowledgeable and spot on.


  • Comment number 17.

    Sarcasm as the highest form of wit.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't know how many Gills fans will agree with me here but I do think to much emphasis is put on Simeon Jackson, rather than the likes of Curtis Weston, Simon King and Andy Barcham who would be my three to watch for those neutral fans who will be watching.

    These three players have been unbelievable this season and are without a doubt too good for League Two. Yes without Jackson's goals we would be in trouble but if you look at the goals a fair few were from the spot and others just good poachers efforts. Apart from his goals he does very little all game, I reckon he will be a lot better in League One though, too lightweight in this more physical league.

    1. Curtis Weston - We got him on a free transfer from Leeds and he has been key to our success this season. He's driving runs, accurate passing, great tackling, coolness on the ball as well as some phenomenal goals have been crucial to our success this season.

    2. Simon King - Made PFA L2 Team of the Year and is without a doubt the best defender in the league. Without him our defence looks very shaky indeed, he could play in the Championship and thats no exaggeration. Always puts his body on the line and gives his all, top player.

    3. Andy Barcham - Goes on some scintillating runs down the left and his skills and pace are generally too much to handle for most league two defences. His assist for Jackson's goal in the semi-final against Rochdale was typical of most of his assists this season.

    I do think we will gain the best possible revenge over the Shrews for that humiliating defeat at New Meadow at the start of the season. We are a totally different team now since the turn of the year and expect us to win a close encounter by the odd goal.

  • Comment number 19.

    League 2 League 1 Championship
    Gills 2 - 1 Shrewsbury Millwall 0 - 1 Scunny Burnley 2 - 0 Sheff utd

  • Comment number 20.

    As a Blade obviously I want us to beat Burnley on Monday. It's correct they've beat us twice this season, 1st at Bramhall Lane where the game was terrible but a wins a win? 2nd at Turf Moor where we were unlucky and there keeper made some good saves.

    I've no problem with the Burnley fans and happy we're playing against a honest team with one of the fairest managers there is...

    The 'Tevez' affair that everyone seems to bring up left a bitter taste in our mouths which is true but as fans we moved on ages ago. Un-like it seems everyone else has?

    I'll be there cheering my team on with 37500 other Blades, happy if we win & sad if we lose.

    Good Luck to Burnley & all the best...

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with RE STAND GILL #18.
    Jackson is a good player, but has wasted too many shots this year! He could easily be on 25 goals had he of taken them. And because of this our strengths are Weston, King and Barcham.

    King is a rock in our defence. When he plays the back 5 have so much confidence.

    Weston is such a work horse in midfield that he is under rated. When he picks up the ball he is constantly looking for space, players and the goal. The perfect centre mid for the gills

    Finally with Barcham, his runs are brilliant, to say the least. No one puts more fear into opposition defences when he gets into the box. Quick feet, and a good eye for goal make him a great asset to our wings.

    Up the GILLS!!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    You know what stands out. A team which has played so many games, one individual you mention in all of them, and do I hear the word "tired" anywhere.

    The football League still has professional footballers, synthetic footballers in the Prem look and learn what being professional should mean.

    To all 72 teams and supporters in the FL, well done for keeping "football" in its truest sense alive

  • Comment number 23.

    As a Doncaster supporter I have vivid memories of a great day this time last year.. Amazing atmosphere and a return to "Division 2" after 50 long years..

    This year I hope to watch all the finals in the pub - and just enjoy the games..

    Championship: Hard to call - we beat both sides this season and although local, Utd aren't really what we would call our traditional rivals. I'd be happy to see either club in the PL.

    League 1: I think Millwall will win, but I don't really care - better them and Scunny than either Leeds or MK - how could I have predicted a win for neither..?

    League 2: Got a soft spot for Shrewsbury, used to live nearby and enjoyed going to Gay Meadow..

    Best of luck to all 6 clubs and the supporters - if you have the kind of day I had last year, you'll remember it forever :)

  • Comment number 24.

    I think it a tad remiss not to congtratulate the teams that have ALREADY gained promotion by a superior league position.
    These teams are the ones that didn't gain automatic promotion.
    Hence, this is second class.

  • Comment number 25.

    16 - Your probably right, I have not seen you play much this season, and I know you always use to be physical, however I am sure that has changed...

    Although saying that my stand out memory of United this season was Morgan's elbow on Hume. I would suggest that was 'quite' physical.

    Oh well, here is to a good weekend of football, eh!

  • Comment number 26.

    IF such a poll could be conducted and IF the managers would tell the truth, I'd wager that the vast majority of Premiership managers would not want another Stoke City in the Premiership.
    Nor do I.
    Good luck to Burnley.

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't understand why everyone is still so anti-blades. Since the Tevez themed relegation, Warnock (who was probably the main reason) left long ago, the majority of players have moved on and the fans want to leave it in the past, why can't everyone else do the same.

    This set of players have played some fantastic football at times this season and been shocking at other times, which is the same as most teams (who have all lost games they shouldn't have) but to say Burnley deserve promotion because of their season with cup runs etc is a little exaggerated. We finished 3rd, four points ahead of them and won 22 games in comparison to their 21 with a +13 better goal difference, if anyone deserves promotion then statistics suggest it should be the blades.

    ...and to continually call us a physical team is ridiculous, take out Henderson and Morgan and the rest of the team are lightweights and half of them are about 5'5 in height. A top four premier team equivalent would be to call Chelsea nothing but a physical team because they have Terry at the back and Drogba up front, forgetting the fabulous footballers that play alongside them.

    I seriously hope the blades do it and don't let down the fans when it matters, as they have done in the past on numerous occasions, and I have a funny feeling that this may be our year, but at the end of the day I like Burnley, have the utmost respect for their manager and wish both teams the best of luck.

    I know I'll probably get slated but it would be nice to read some unbiased and fair reviews on the game and not the usual sterotypical responses that we see time and again, Bassetts long ball physical team disappeared in the mid-90's and it's a bout time people moved on.


  • Comment number 28.

    No. 26

    Why not?

  • Comment number 29.

    As a Millwall fan my joy is obviously huge looking forward to Sunday's match. How many teams in the english league, especially outside the premiership have played at the Old Wembley, The Millennium Stadium and the New Wembley in the last 10 years? Something Millwall has managed to achieve. Don't ask me how though!!

    Sunday's match is going to be very tight. I expect us to employ the same tactic that has served us so well this season and was especially evident against Leeds in the semi-finals and that is to concentrate on our back four and build from there.

    Also as i type Scunthorpe have sold 8,000 tickets of there 19,493 allocation. Millwall have had to get 12,000 more tickets allocated and have already sold 43,500. Thats a hell of an advantage, 43,500 to 8,000, definitely a proper 12th man.

    Finally just like to say good luck to Scunthorpe too, hopefully the match will be as exciting as it was against Leeds. Also i predict, Sheff Utd, Millwall, Shrewsbury.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Shrewsbury, of course, sneaked past Bury on penalties, some would say with a hint of fortune in their favour."

    'Sneaked' ?! Hardly!

    They had 2 games to put the tie to bed and they didn't score in either. We scored two goals(!) and our keeper played an absolute blinder. The better team won!

  • Comment number 31.

    another excellent article fletch.nice to see regular blogs commenting on the football league.i think all three ties are too hard to call either way and are all evenly matched.the only slight favourite i can see is if gary hooper is fit for scunny.but millwall showed against leeds that they can defend for their lives so they still cant be ruled out completely.

    keep up the quality articles mate

  • Comment number 32.

    It seems other fans bring up the Tevez affair more than united fans do these days.
    We moved on ages ago.

    I never realised until recently the amount of hate towards Sheffield United from other fans, and I don't know if that was because of Warnock. But if so then they must all hate Crystal Palace as well these days.

    On a different note, I think we have to potential to win the final. Letting James Beattie go to Stoke is the best thing we did all season. Instead of being a team that relied on just one player to bag loads of goals, we shipped him out and built a strong team. Watching the Preston match at the Lane, it was the strongest performance I've seen form United in a long time.
    Not to take anything away from Burnley of course. They've beat us twice already this season and I respect them just for knocking Reading out of the play-offs and ultimately ending Coppel's reign as manager there. But I don't think it will be a case of thrid time lucky.

    Up the Blades!

  • Comment number 33.

    I started watching Burnley the season after they were relegated from the top flight. This season we have finished in the highest league position since then. I have been occasionaly overwhelmed, this season, by what I've seen on the pitch. The football at times is breathtaking. This is without a doubt the best Burnley team that I have ever witnessed. I wouldn't say that we have many individual players of high class, but what we do have is a group of players that truly work as a team for each other and that is their great strength. Of course, touches of class from Robbie Blake, Chris Eagles and Wade Elliot make a difference, as does Brian Jensen's match-saving saves, and the unbelievable goals at Reading from our forwards, but it is Owen Coyle's skill in putting together a team that believes in itself totally that has put Burnley where it is today, and that has made all Burnley fans believe that we will win on Monday, and we will light up the Premier League next season.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm Millwall and my dad's Shrewsbury so obviously I want our two teams to do well (plus, of course, Shrewsbury are playing Gillingham - that's a no-brainer).

    Championship though? I must say I think Burnley will edge it - Owen Coyle has shown some remarkable nous since he's gone to Turf Moor, and I think they'll do well on Monday!

  • Comment number 35.

    Number 27 - fantastic post. Couldn't have put it better myself :)

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Steve Treacle - this business about me putting the mockers on a team is something of a myth. It was started by SpiritualWolf - who is a very cheeky chappie - and rest assured I'll be doing an end of season audit to get to the bottom of the matter.

    The Gills certainly seem to have shifted plenty of tickets, which should help to generate a cracking atmosphere on Saturday.

    I agree with the Blades fans who say that they are far from a physical team. Anyone who saw their play-off ties with Preston would surely have been struck by their mobility, especially the full-backs, while Brian Howard is hardly a man mountain.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think Shef Utd, Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury will all come up - as they all begin with 'S' *Jokes*

    I do think that will happen, and my reasons are thus:

    - Shef Utd are so close to getting back into the top flight and have a good reason (Tevez fiasco) to fight tooth and nail to get back up. I also think it might be one game too many for Burnley, as mentioned on the bbc football page, they have used the least amount of players this season.

    - Scunthorpe snuck in the back door last minute and Millwall have been up there all season. I just think that they will be so pleased to be there and just edge a close game over Millwall.

    - I remember Shrewsbury going down to the Conference a few years back, a lot of clubs don't make it back into the league for a long time. Shrewsbury have not only done that, but are also looking for promotion to League 1. That shows character and determination. A also think Holt upfront can score a goal when he wants to and could be the difference.

  • Comment number 39.

    Ever since Dave Bassett was in charge of the Blades we have been unable to shake the "ugly long ball physical team" tag. I think if anything both Bassett and Warnock have used it as a motivating tool. United are no more physical or play long ball than any other side in the Championship. The recent Wolves v Birmingham game was hardly samba football was it?

    As A Blades fan I'm obviously hoping for Blades success, but considering our record in crucial games over the years, I'm not exactly confident.

    Good luck to all the teams (and their long suffering supporters) over the weekend.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm so glad we (Birmingham) got automatic this year (just!) When we went up via the playoffs in 2002 it was too much to handle at times- Stern John last minute at Millwall, (then their fans decided to burn down Bermondsey) then penalties against Norwich. It was all worth it in the end... even though I had to resit 2 exams at Uni that summer because of Millwall away being mid week!

    I've got to go for Burnley & Scunny (OOOH! John Gale) despite their poor choice of team colours, and the Shrews are local(ish).

    Enjoy the days out- it'll be good to see Wembley with some real fans in there for a change.

  • Comment number 41.

    hi as burnley fan i am so proud of the team this season i never expected the success we have had already with the money that as been spent and the size of the squad i give full credit to a honest manager in owen coyle and the players that have never let up all season long it will be a tough day on monday but i truly believe we can do it and then the top flight beckons and i really think owen coyle can keeep us there if we have achieve this goal best of luck BFC AND SHEFF UTD on monday may the best team win!

  • Comment number 42.

    Shrewsbury will put a better XI out this time than two years ago.

    I also think there is now an excellent professional attitude running through the team, with the finishing post in sight the dreadful record of one away win has been blown away with three straight away wins.

    In my view the team has shown for the first time that it is willing to fight for every minute of the game.

    It will be a tough hard fought game and I wouldn't be surprised seeing going to penalties.

  • Comment number 43.

    There seems to be some ludicrous assertion Shrews were lucky to reach the play-off final. Let's de-bunk Paul shall we? Going in to the last day of the season we needed to win at Daggers to claim their spot -duly done. We then had to recover from a home loss via a comical own-goal and win at Bury (achhieved through an 88th minutes goal and balls of tupaware through extra time and penalties). Fortune came into in the sense we had a keeper who saves before he shaves...
    I am extremely confident victory will be claimed come sat.

    Of the others I see a Burnley/Scunthorpe lifting the claret.

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 27.

    Most Arsenal, Spurs, Man Utd and Liverpool fans I know do call Chelsea a 'physical' team for just the reasons you suggest! Compared to Arsenal they probably are (where a lack of physicality is sometimes conflated with 'cultured' footballing ability).

    On another note, if 'another Stoke' were to emerge i'd be pleased. One of the teams of the year. They are hard, very competitive and play to a good gameplan. They provide genuine problems for teams that they are not used to facing and that can only add to the richness of the league overall. It's better to have a team come up and do some damage on that basis that have a half-baked 'footballing' team come up and get thrashed repeatedly (I discount West Brom this year who have been a very good footballing side).

    I'm amazed at the way Millwall beat Leeds. I think they're a cert after that. Not sure about the other 2 leagues though.

    One other point to those that keep bigging up certain Gills players: only one Brentford player got in the League 2 select XI and yet they are clearly by far the best team in League 2. It's not about individuals!

  • Comment number 45.

    Whatever the outcome, be it Blades or Burnley I hope this game lives up to expectations. I know the Tevez affair is now history but all the same Shef Utd. did blow their chance in the Prem. They also got a hefty financial cushion, Burnley have arrived on nowt but fresh air by comparison .May the best team win and the losers go up automatically next year !

    Sod it, I think i'm coming down with a cold and sore throat. I hope I dont lose my voice before Monday !

  • Comment number 46.

    as a burnley fan i'm very confident we'll go through on monday. i've heard several people say that it'll be one game to many but that's simply not the case. there have been times throughout the season where we've looked a little bit tired, but at the moment our fitness levels seem better than ever. it makes you realise just how much benitez and wenger and the like are talking nonsense when they complain about fixture congestion with there giant squads and masses of fitness coaches.

    as for the reason why everyone seems to be against the blades, there are 3 reasons why i dislike them.

    1. obviously the tevez affair. the fans may have put it behind them but to most people they're just sore losers. which is true.

    2. they're a dirty team. even without warnock they are still a dirty team. not a physical team, but they're clearly willing to cheat and make overly-dangerous tackles when the need be. (and i'm not just talking about the hume tackle)

    3. the fans. now this is a bit harsh, because the majority of fans of any club (mine included) are complete morons, but i've encountered a lot of unpleasant blades fans over the years.

  • Comment number 47.

    Number 16: "* kes"

    >"Number 11 - you're so knowledgeable and spot on.


    Number 11, maybe. You clearly aren't.

    Derek Geary 5'3", Jamie Ward, 5'5", Stephen Quinn, 5'6", Brian Howard, 5'8", Nick Montgomery, 5'8", Arturo Lupoli, 5'8", David Cotterill, 5'9", Gary Naysmith, 5'10", Gary Speed, 5'10", Lee Hendrie, 5'10", Danny Webber, 5'10", Sun Jihai, 5'10", Leigh Bromby, 5'11"

    There are 9 6 foot players (including 2 keepers) in the first team squad compared with 13 under 6 foot.

    But hey, lets not allow facts to get in the way of a good prejudice. Hopefully, Burnley will have made the same "error" as you.

  • Comment number 48.

    Burnley, Scunny and Shrewsbury.

    Burnley purely because of how they go about the game and feel that there great form in middle part of the season should be rewarded.

    Scunny because I think they're one of the best footballing sides in Lg1 and if Hooper is back and fit I can't see Millwall stopping them, however being a Leeds fan I agree that Whitehead was awesome against us and if he keeps the defensive line as tight as he did against us then they might just snatch it.

    Shrewsbury mainly because any lg2 club who spends £170k on a striker is showing ambition and I think that should be rewarded.

  • Comment number 49.

    What is it with the BBC hating sheffield united. When we was in the premier league on MOTD all the pundits did was slate us. Also when ever there is a blog u have to down play us and make it out that we dont deserve to be where we are. All blades men have forgot about the carlos tevez affair but other fans and the bbc dont want to drop it.WHY? We have battled hard this season and will win on monday and be able to get back into were we belong.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    My first time writing and in general im a football fan so here are my tips i think in the championship i think burnley play the better football but sheff utd are a very hard team to beat could go to pens, leauge one i think is a cert for pens with milwall going through and i think the gills will be to strong for the shrews but im looking forward to all 3 games good luck to all the teams

  • Comment number 52.

    REckon it could be all the S's

  • Comment number 53.

    Burnley are a good team and have had a good season playing exciting football. Same as us 6 years ago when we reached both domestic semi-finals, finished 3rd then lost 3-0 to wolves in the play off final.

    Everyone hates sheffield united because we are a well managed team on excellent financial footing (the only debt free club in the country) on an upward trajectory which will end in the premier league at some point even if we don't beat burnley on monday.

    I don't mind being hated, it's just amusing. Other fans can call us dirty long ball merchants all they want, it's just jealousy because of our success. We'll have the last laugh if we reach the premier league on monday!

    Up the Blades.

  • Comment number 54.

    Why do people say the Iron 'sneaked in' to the playoffs on the last day? We spent the majority of the season there and were even top for a long time. We only needed a draw on the last day with Tranmere, which we got, admittedly in the 88th minute or something like that. But I think it was more of a case of Tranmere trying to sneak in - and failing.

    As for the results, I'd like to see Burnley go up, purely as they beat Arsenal, making them one of my favourite teams. I think Scunny will make it, we win alternate games at Wembley (lost to Blackpool, beat Orient, lost to Luton) so we'll win... It's fate! As for league 2, I think Shrewbury will do it. Dunno why, just do.

  • Comment number 55.

    #7 - re. 'everyone thinks Burnley are going to win'. Really? So why does every bookie in the country have Sheff U as favourite to go up? Their profits rely on an expert and unbiased sporting knowledge and I'm therefore guessing that you think everyone thinks Burnley are going to win because the people you are speaking to are from (or support) Burnley.

    Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against Burnley (or Sheff U), just wondering how you came up with that assessment.

    As a neutral I'd like to wish both sets of supporters the best of luck. All I'm hoping for is an enthralling contest.

  • Comment number 56.

    Burnley Fan!!

    Man i am way too excited about this game. The thought that we could be playing in the premiership next season makes me giddy!!!
    It's gonna be a great game with a crazy atmosphere. It's great to see the fans wishing the other team well!! Football isn't all bad.
    Come on the Clarets!!

  • Comment number 57.

    No. 46

    You do not appear to have thought through your post when suggesting your reasons why the blades are disliked by some.

    1. There's a difference between being a sore loser and standing up for the principle that foul play should never prosper. Please bear in mind that it wasn't just the blades that believed further action should have been taken by the Premier League. A number of clubs threatened by relegation that season had vowed to take action if relegated, it's just unfortunate that on the day Wigan battled hard and escaped, and we were the ones who were relegated. This is, however, a discussion for another time and place.......

    2. This comment can be attributed to anyone of the 24 teams in the Championship this season. All teams have players who fly into tackles and play hard, that's the nature of this league and numerous challenges this season have been above and beyond would could reasonably be described as "fair". I recall both teams flying into tackles at Turf Moor a month ago, it was certainly not one way traffic.

    3. As you rightly point out and unfortunately fail to take notice of your own statement, all teams have some fans that act childishly and stupid, and there are numerous people on these message boards that are here to cause trouble, but to slate the fans of another team when you've probably only spoken to a couple of hundred of them face to face in your lifetime, cannot be a true reflection of a fanbase.

    I cannot help but think your dislike of the blades is nothing more that a biased, blinkered view of a few small incidents in the recent past and nothing more.

    Both teams have played well to get to where they are this weekend, I do not understand why people cannot praise both teams instead of attack one or the other.

    Come on you Red and White Wizards......!

  • Comment number 58.

    If there is any justice (and clearly I am biased!) it will be the Clarets gracing the Premier League with their pleasing style of football. On a virtually nil budget Owen Coyle has got the team to play football in a way rarely seen since I started supporting the club in 1973. 33 years is a long time out of the top flight and I totally agree with some of the comments above that 50 years on from our last League Championship title it would be so fitting to see us back in the top flight! Sheffield United are a good side and I feel sure the game will be a cracker - can't wait to take up my seat and hope the referee has a good day as well!
    Scunthorpe to move up from League 1 as you sold us Martin Paterson and he's been great this season, I saw us win promotion at your place a few years ago and you play in the famous claret and blue!
    Shrewsbury from League 2...

  • Comment number 59.


  • Comment number 60.

    Just one point of order... I very much doubt that there were 72 teams dreaming of promotion at the start of the season.. what with the FL's attempts to 'protect the integrity of the competition' (My a*se!.. as Jim Royle might say).

    Typical lazy journalism found within these blog articles.

  • Comment number 61.

    #30 and #43 seem to have a chip on their shoulder regarding Shrewsbury's progress to the final.

    Now I don't think it is unfair of Fletch to suggest it was achieved with some luck given a quote I read from a Shrewsbury point of view suggested themselves they were lucky.

    If it had been the other way round & Bury had gone through after their keeper had pulled off a number of quality saves you'd feel as though they had a degree of fortune.

  • Comment number 62.

    I would like to see Burnley win the Championship playoff. Owen Coyle has done a fabulous job there.

    During the first half of the Leeds V Milwall semi, the odds came up on the TV to win the play off. Scunny were 5-1. I said at the time it was worth a bet. Seeing I know a few Scunny fans here in Dublin, I will go for them.

    Div 2 is hard to call but I think Shrewsbury might just get through.

  • Comment number 63.

    47 - thanks for that. I was being sarcastic. I'm a Blades fan and understand we're one of the least physical teams in the league and can't quite understand the rest of the footballing worlds perception of us being long ball and physical. Ah well. UTB.

  • Comment number 64.

    Blame their small minority of fans: ripping out seats and throwing them at ballboys' heads isn't exactly going to make me warm to a club!!!


    You clearly didn't see what a small minority of your fans did last time you visited Ewood...

    Anyway, I live and work near Sheffield and have many friends who support them, so would like to see them come up. However, the rivalry between Rovers and Burnley would be a welcome addition to the Prem so would also like to see that come to fruition. 30 years and counting...

  • Comment number 65.

    Ah, all you Burnley fans bring back some memories...

    Last time we got in the playoff final we got to the semi final of both cups (beating 4 Premier league teams on our way) and out classed our co-finalists home and away during the season. Pretty much the spitting image of your season I'd say.

    We got spanked 3-0

  • Comment number 66.

    given burnleys cup run this year, they could well be the new Liverpool :-)

  • Comment number 67.

    #40 - JohnGalesTongue - The Scunthorpe & Birmingham player was John Gayle, not John Gale

  • Comment number 68.

    only hope world cup will be held in england ,so there will be more best team,more star come to england ,more Brilliant game happens!!!!
    oh,god .so Excited

  • Comment number 69.

    I, Steve Treacle, have re-added my comment (number 36) for the benefit of all readers. For some reason, the BBC Gestapo moderation police decided to delete it deeming it to break "house rules", despite it being completely inoffensive and at worst considered banter. What makes their Goebbels-style attitude all the more laughable is that the actual blog author replied to my initial comment in the same good spirited style that my comment was intended, so clearly deemed it good game. Grow up BBC! Anyway, here it is (I hope you aren't too offended!):

    As a Gills fan, I am confident that we have a better team and a team are more suited to playing on, what is supposed to be a, a carpet of a Wembley surface than the Shrews; however, we generally do things the hard way all of our previous playoff finals have gone to extra time (at least) and replays (when they had replays for finals), so its going to be a nail-biter! Everyone seems to suggest that this chap Fletcher is prone to putting the curse on teams by predicting them I've never heard of him, so sincerely hope its not true!

    I agree on the comments about Simeon Jackson that he has been over-hyped. If Simpson and Shrewsbury focus on him as much as the Press/Media, the likes of Barcham, Weston and Oli will tear Shrewsbury apart (however, I am sure that wont be the case for someone as shrewd -pun intended - and experienced as Simpson). I don't know many of their players, but Shrewsbury would probably say the same about all the hype over Holt i.e. his team mates may step in and take the glory.

    Gills have apparently sold pretty much all of their allocation, so there should be somewhere near the 38000 + 3000 corporate Gills (=41000) there on Saturday. With the Shrews selling 18000 so far, and maybe more to come, the crowd should top 60000, which may be better than the League One final (despite all the knuckledraggers that have come out of the woodwork in the same vain as the stayaway bandwagon boy Gills).

    I just hope Shrewsbury's luck finally runs out they were lucky to sneak in the playoffs (in fact, they wouldnt have even had a shout of the playoffs come the final game of the season, had the referee not gifted them a generous penalty at Priestfield when we were 2-0 and cruising near the end of the season to allow them back into the game though we were at fault for crumbling after that admittedly). They were also played off the park by Bury over two legs. Maybe its just their year, or maybe their luck will run out at the wrong time?

    Predictions Sheffield United / Millwall / Gills, though I would like to see Burnley and Scunny go up along with us. I have nothing against Sheffield due to the Tevez affair I admire their stance in standing up to the cheating Spanners (though think they should have equally gone after Sir Ferguson and Man Utd too for the way they disgracefully collapsed on the last day of the season, which they are all set to do again on Sunday as different rules apply to Man Utd and Sir Ferguson, but that's another issue). Obviously, nobody wants to see the knuckledraggers go up - they have some decent, loyal fans there, but the mindless idiots are still there in force (I have seen it with my own eyes) despite Millwall's efforts to blame the Press/Media, other teams fans, Police or anyone, but themselves for their problem.

    Anyway, up the Gills!

  • Comment number 70.

    Sheffield United to beat Burnley
    Scunthorpe United to beat Millwall
    Shrewsbury Town to beat Gillingham

    Wonder what odds I can get on an accumulator hmmm.

  • Comment number 71.

    Premier League: Sheff.Utd
    Championship: Millwall
    League 1: Gillingham

  • Comment number 72.

    Champ - Burnley
    League 1 - Millwall
    League 2 - Shrewsbury

    that's what I would expect/hope for.

  • Comment number 73.

    Re the comment from Steve Treacle (No 69)that Shrewsbury "...were also played off the park by Bury over two legs". we weren't. We outplayed them at the ProStar and lost to a freakish own goal near the end. At Gigg Lane we rode out our luck in extra time but we were down to 10 men after Leslie got sent off. This Town team has shown a lot of grit and determination over the past few weeks to grind out results when required and I reckon are a better team than played at Wembley two years ago.

    Having said that the Gills are no mugs and I expect it to be real tight match on Saturday with two good defences giving little away. Wouldn't be at all surprised to see this going to penalties - then it's anyones.

  • Comment number 74.

    #64 - no i didn't see what a small minority of burnley fans did at ewood park! I was there and saw nothing. Except them being quite well behaved. If they did do anything I'm sure it didn't involve trying to decapitate innocent small children!!

  • Comment number 75.


    "10-5 on penalties"

    Brian Howard (BBC Website)

    This is impossible Brian...

  • Comment number 76.


    On SkyBet (I haven't checked any other bookies) you can get just under 16/1 on all 3 of those to win in 90 mins, or 6/1 on the 3 of them to win outright.

  • Comment number 77.

    So Millwall have sold nearly 45 thousand for wembley, that is totally an amazing figure, in fact its almost unbelievable when you consider they could sell 700 for the leg at Elland Road??

    or 12 thousand for the home tie?? Thier biggest crowd of the season..

    where have all these plastic millwall fans come from? why do they never support thier team?? As for Leeds, the football world knows it is only time before the monster starts to wake , once it does it will be right back to top again....

  • Comment number 78.


    I see those grapes are going to be tasting particularly 'sour' this weekend, you lost, try and get over it.
    As for the awakening of the monster,I don't see too many commentators in the football world, outside of a Leeds United matchday programme of course, predicting a resurgence for the whites. Next season league one will be tough, you may have blown your chances by not getting promotion this season and league one could be as good as it gets.

  • Comment number 79.

    Asiawhites - Good call on the Millwall fans. Where have all the Knuckledraggers came out from? (Saying that I have equal contempt for the bandwagon boy Gills fans who have all of the sudden jumped on the bandwagon - probably mainly gloryhunters who usually follow Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal etc).

    I'm just glad that we're playing at Wembley on the Saturday as I have paid considerable money for a seat and don't want to have to stand as that'll probably be the case for many on the Burnley/Sheff Utd fans on Monday after Millwall lose and the neanderthals rips up the Wembley seats!

    Come on the Gills and Scunnny!

  • Comment number 80.

    Interesting to consider where all the extra fans come from. My family hold 4 of only about 3,500 to 4,000 Gills season tickets, but I've arranged a coachload (we're taking 31 to wembley!).

    Everyone suddenly wants to go, but that's just as well because Wembley is a big place and would look a bit empty with just the regulars there!

    As dyed in the wool Gills, we've all got our good luck Scunny cards to leave on our seats!


  • Comment number 81.

    Blackwell may well point to the playoff final as his downfall at Leeds (with respect if you play 1 upfront in what is essentially a cup final, you're asking for trouble) but it was infact our run of awful results at the start of the following season and his inabillity to indentify clear weaknesses in the team that cost him his job.

    I dont know how true it is, but I was recently told this interesting stat, Kevin Blackwell has never lost a Wembley final in 5 attempts, the 2 final defeats he was involved in were both in Cardiff.

  • Comment number 82.

    Having been born in Greenwich I have been 'following' Millwall & Charlton (who play either side of Greenwich)for almost 60 years. I hope I do not see them both in the same league next year so c'mon you Lions and do to Scunny what Man U did to you a few years ago.......WIN 3-0 (or more) lol

  • Comment number 83.

    I thought Sheffield United were a big team ,but Burnley sold all their tickets first !!
    Burnley have beaten them twice already ,so it's going to be easy ....

  • Comment number 84.


    Fletch's colleague Alex Gulrajani is making his debut in the Wembley press box for Saturday's League Two final.

    Read his thoughts here:

    Ian W - BBC Sport.

  • Comment number 85.

    Please Burnley do me a favour and beat sheffield united, the utter bilge that i have had to listen to from these "hard done by" supporters regarding tevez. its beyond a joke now. no doubt if they lose on sunday they will sue burnley (claret and blue kit)

    Millwall unfortunately for me will win and Shrewbury will do the honours in league 2, scraped through at dagenham on the last game and then on pens in the semi!!! they have to go up!!

  • Comment number 86.

    When is the last time Millwall played at Wembley?

    Their FA Cup final appearance was in Cardiff and it is perhaps worth bearing this in mind when talking about fans coming out of the woodwork.

    Millwall have sold loads of tickets - it will be close to 50,000 - but part-time supporters often do make the effort when their team makes a very rare trip to the national stadium. If this did not happen most play-off finals would be played inside a very empty Wembley indeed.

    The fact they only sold in the region of 12,000 for the home leg of their play-off tie is related very strongly to the purchasing restrictions the club quite rightly imposed.

    themedwaystand - who talks about about Gillingham in post 80 - also explains how teams suddenly find loads of fans - Wembley is often viewed as a cracking day out.

  • Comment number 87.

    Tough three games...

    As a Gills fan, my allegiances tomorrow are blatantly obvious. I think anyone who has been watching the Gills for the whole of this season will agree that what the club has achieved in the past few months is not something to be sniffed at. On our day, we can beat anyone in League Two - the question is, will it be our day?
    The 7-0 drumming was painful to say the least, however I don't think it's hard to see the difference in our squad now. The need to win tomorrow has made me lose sleep for the past 2 weeks - but if we lose then I hope Gills' fans appreciate the hard work that Stimson and the boys have put in this season and are proud of them regardless. I can't make a prediction for the game. I just hope it doesn't go to penalties because I don't think I'll make it through them.

    As for the mention of these wonderful fans that have appeared out of nowhere? I don't mind them filling Wembley as long as they get behind our boys. It's the ones that tell me they're "loyal supporters" when they haven't been to a game for 3 years that drive me insane!

    The other two?
    Sheffield United and Scunthorpe.
    I appear to be one of the only people who actually don't mind the Blades and they have a good side. Scunny? Ah, it's hope really. Besides, if Gills don't lose tomorrow... I fancy another trip to Millwall!

  • Comment number 88.

    Love the fact we are one of the most hated teams around all because our chairman did what most other chairman and fans would have done and fought against mis-justice thats all settled now!! Do us blades care about the Tevez affair no do we love our club Yes!

    Some of the comments on here are ridiculous we are not an over physical club or for that matter a long ball club,stats speak for themselves Sheffield united red cars 5 (1 of which was kilgallon Vs the pigs) yellow cards 53 (1 of which was Morgan Vs Hulme should have been red suppose that counters the Kilgallon Red) Burnley Red cards 5 Yellow cards 68????? United are over physical????????

    I will be going down to Wembley and i hope the game is played in the best of spirits with hopefully for us to see the red and white wizards Win!!! If not theres always nexy year!

    Keep the negative comments coming we are used to it! And lets hope there is a Yorkshire team in the Premier League next year!!

  • Comment number 89.

    Just read Gingerhammers comment
    "Please Burnley do me a favour and beat sheffield united, the utter bilge that i have had to listen to from these "hard done by" supporters regarding tevez." WHEN WHERE AND WHAT SHEFFIELD UNITED SUPPORTER ARE YOU REFERING TO?

    We have restructured our club to try and compete at the very highest level, we have improved our ground and it now the best in yorkshire (although not much to compete with) So i think the club deserve a little credit for what we are trying to achieve....

  • Comment number 90.


  • Comment number 91.

    As a Bournemouth fan, obviously hope Burnley win and Wade Elliott gets on the scoresheet. Galling as he went on a free (all thanks to Mr Treore and his og backheel, leading us to play Burnley rather than Liverpool, playing well and having Wade leave on a free - but this is what happens when you support Bournemouth!!) Sorry Blades fans, but your team has still got a reputation as being over physical, Chris Morgan could only be loved by his own side's fans!!
    Div 1 - Come on Millwall! Proper football experience, none of your sanitised prawn sandwich eaters here! Met many knowledgeable Wall fans, good bunch. Also Scunny were the quietest supporters I have heard in the last 10 years, even when they were top of the league - and not overly impressed with the team at MK Dons (although Hooper should make a big difference)
    Div 2 - I wanted the other 2 in the final!! - I think the Gills will win though, I just don't think Shrews are good enough, even with all their dosh and would seriously struggle in League 1, as I think Wycombe will. Brentford and Exeter were the only really good sides in Div 2 through all of the season.

  • Comment number 92.



  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Having been a football follower for over 40 years and seen every style of football, I seem to be in a very small minority of people who actually can't stand teams who play football the so-called "right way". Its utterly boring to me to see teams pass sideways with no end product, what's the point ? What I want to see is 100% effort, balls into the box, a good battle and players who play like it means something to them. Give me Stoke anyday over Arsenal.

    As for the play-offs, I hope its Sheff Utd. Millwall and Gillingham, all teams who like a scrap and who their opponents will know they've been in a game at full-time.

  • Comment number 95.

    I seem to be coming down with something. It may well be swine flue, but I'm determined to be at Wembley on Monday. Will it be OK if I sit in the segregated area and promise only to sneeze over the Blades supporters?
    Up the CLARETS !

  • Comment number 96.

    86. At 12:28pm on 22 May 2009, Paul Fletcher - BBC Sport wrote:
    When is the last time Millwall played at Wembley?

    Their FA Cup final appearance was in Cardiff and it is perhaps worth bearing this in mind when talking about fans coming out of the woodwork.

    We played in the auto windscreen (JPT) final at the old wembley in 1999 and we brought 49,000 fans ... the old wembley, millennium stadium and the new wembley in ten years... not many teams can say that

    Fair enough not every fan in the millwall section will be a true millwall fan but neither will all of those fans for the gills or shrewbury or even burnley and sheffield utd.... going to wembley is a great day out for everyone and its nice to bring your family and friends along with long as they cheer your team along i dont really care!

    predictions.... burnley/millwall/gillingham

  • Comment number 97.

    The Blades will have played at all three in the last 12 years.

    1997 Old Wembley - Play-Off Final v Palace
    2003 Millenium Stadium - Play-Off Final v Wolves
    2009 New Wembley - Play-Off Final v Burnley

    Keep the faith......

  • Comment number 98.

    As a United fan I obviously want the Blades to win on Monday, but trying to think as a neutral I can't decide who I'd have wanted to win. Burnley have done well this season in the cups and it's impressive that they've got to where they are with the resources they've got, which are both big pluses in their favour. On the other hand, does the Premier League really need another small town club with no fans? It's depressing enough seeing clubs like Wigan pull in so few people every week, even when they're doing relatively well.

    I'm sure some Burnley fans will rush to point out that they've sold their allocation of tickets. That's great, but average attendances are a far more reliable indicator of support and on that metric few can deny they have a tiny fan base even for the Championship.

  • Comment number 99.

    Not a great fan of the play offs. Just ask M K Dons and Bury fans. I feel that if a team finishes third they deserve to go up. The play offs are just a money spinner. That said being a Burnley fan I am hoping they're in the premiership next season. We have beaten Sheffield Utd twice this season and hoping they can make it a hat trick. In the 1st division match I fancy Millwall. I didn't think anyone would beat Leeds. I don't get to many Burnley matches now because I live in Gillingham. Everyone down here is talking about the final. I know what it means to the town and I believe they will triumphant tomorrow.
    I wish all six clubs all the best for the long weekend and may the most deserving team on the day get promotion.

  • Comment number 100.

    With reference to Comment No. 98......ill-considered and ignorant....comparing Burnley to Wigan Athletic...what a joke! Burnley....a tiny fan base, I think not. 36,000 tickets sold in less than 5 days and perhaps a few thousand travelling without tickets.

    As of Wednesday 20th tickets were still available at Bramhall Lane! Sheffield a city of 400,000 plus [albeit with 2 teams], Burnley a town of approx. 70, doubt where the enthusiasm and passion lies.

    Burnley may be a smallish town but know your history....a founder member of the league and a rich and ,at times, glorious past.

    Turf Moor has a capacity of 22,500, will be sold out every week in The Premier.....compares rather well with Portsmouth, Fulham etc. Notice nobody moaning about then being in the top flight.

    Claret and Proud.


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