Reporter and Seasider Elizabeth Broughton
Ask any Blackpool fan how they feel today, and it is likely to be a wide – slightly disbelieving – grin that greets you.
I never thought I would see my beloved Seasiders in the Premier League yet now – for the second time in three years – I’m preparing to join more than 30,000 other fans on the road to Wembley to watch us contest another Championship play-off final.
And, quite frankly, it feels fantastic. Ending yet another season at our second home is more than most Pool fans could have dreamed of back in August, with the team reeling from the loss of Charlie Adam, David Vaughan and DJ Campbell.
But a new team of heroes have risen to the challenge, with Tom Ince tearing teams apart (again), Matt Phillips becoming the player we all knew he could be and super Stephen Dobbie back in tangerine at the crucial moment.
And that’s not forgetting the likes of Ian Evatt, Keith Southern, Stephen Crainey and Alex Baptiste, who have been there and done it at Wembley in a tangerine shirt.
The highs we’ve experienced as Seasiders fans over the last few years have been incredible and to find ourselves 90 minutes from the Premier League, yet again, is the crowing glory of a thoroughly enjoyable season. Now – once the eight hour queues for tickets have been negotiated – all we Pool fans need to worry about is controlling our nerves.
I didn’t do too well in that respect on Wednesday night (if you were sitting near me, I can only apologise for the screams), but it’s ultimately what the play-offs are all about.
They are nerve-shredding, exhilarating, agonising and amazing, and we are on an incredible 11-match run of not experiencing the devastation and heartache which comes with seeing your season go up in smoke. Can we continue that?
We’re definitely underdogs, but we were against Forest. And against Cardiff. And against Birmingham.
I don’t think there’s any Blackpool fan out there that would write us off but I’m more than happy to let everyone else give it a go, underdog is tag we seem to relish.
Wembley will be turning tangerine next Saturday, “just can’t get enough” will be ringing out down Wembley Way, Ollie Mourinho will send his team out to win – and 38,000 of us will believe.