Last weekend’s win at Wembley was momentous – both for Barnsley FC and our town. This was reflected in the amazing turnout on Monday evening when so many local people turned out for the victory parade.
It’s hard to believe that the club were bottom of the league at Christmas. Yet now, after that fantastic win against Millwall in the play-offs, they are heading for the Championship.
Next season’s matches will feature the likes of Newcastle, Aston Villa and local rivals, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Huddersfield and Rotherham. Not only will this mean increased ticket revenue, but the television rights will also make a big financial difference to the club.
It puts our town in the spotlight – and I know that we will rise to the challenge. At Sunday’s match our fans showed exemplary behaviour, even when goaded by some of the Millwall fans. Ours avoided retaliating and came out of it with their heads held high.
The game itself was exhilarating. We started strongly, with two goals in the first twenty minutes, and played really well throughout. It was great to see the celebrations of fans at fulltime, with the Barnsley end of Wembley truly bouncing!
Our thanks as ever must go to the brilliant team at Oakwell. I know that they faced a great challenge, preparing for Wembley in just a week, as opposed to the previous time when they had a month. Owner Patrick Cryne, chairman Maurice Watkins, manager Paul Heckingbottom, chief executive Ben Mansford and all of the players should be very proud of the result. Indeed, everyone, from the office staff to the groundsmen, the coaching team to the management, deserve our praise. They truly made Barnsley proud.
I know I’ve said it before, but there’s no harm in saying it again – Barnsley FC is a fundamentally important part of our town. The fact that thousands of committed fans descend upon Oakwell week in, week out, come rain or shine, through thick and thin, not only shows the level of interest and affection for our club, but also the power that sport has to bring people together in the interest of a common cause.
And for now, that cause is promoting Barnsley – not just to another league but also to the outside world. Come on you Reds!!
This article was first published in the Barnsley Chronicle on the 3rd June 2016