There are a lot of clichés connected with success in football, such as “It hasn’t sunk in yet”.
That one, at least, I believe is true. When the final whistle went at Sixfields it was as if the inevitable had at last happened, so there was no sudden adrenalin rush, like the ones you get when a last-minute winner is scored in an important match. So we clapped and cheered a bit, sauntered on to the pitch, shook a few hands of people we knew, and stood there for 25 minutes until Chris Wilder came out to say something we couldn’t hear.
Then we wandered back to the car, and the journey home was like any other journey home, listening to Radio Northampton until six o’clock (I’ve never previously liked Justin Edinburgh, but he was very magnanimous), then Robbie Savage on 606 until we could take it no more (which was about ten minutes) and then twiddling the radio knob in search of a Radio Sheffield signal, which arrived somewhere around Loughborough.
Even then we had to turn the sound down low until it was half time in that other match that was going on while we waited for Chris Wilder’s interview.
That’s when it started to sink in, hearing the quiver in Wilder’s voice as the emotion of achieving what he set out to do flooded out. It sunk in a bit more on Sunday afternoon, watching Youtube videos of the team arriving back at Bramall Lane. It will sink in some more after the last match, when hopefully Billy Sharp will be lifting a trophy above his head, but it will only finally sink in to the full in mid June when the fixtures come out.
So the last four matches will be almost relaxing, although there’s that title still to be won. I’ve heard, though I haven’t checked, that only three teams have won all four divisional titles; Wolves, Preston and Burnley. United have a chance to join them and do something that Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs will never do.
Anyway, to get promoted with four games remaining when, don’t forget, we gave Bolton an eleven point start, really is something to write home about. Three defeats in the first four, then three defeats in the next 38. That’s a bit special.