There will be one man in tangerine at Wembley who knows exactly how fickle the League Two play-offs can be – Blackpool full-back Kelvin Mellor has already experienced both the ecstasy and agony of the end-of-season showpiece.
Mellor, 26, reminisced about the joy of winning the final with his hometown club Crewe in 2012, but the memories of losing to AFC Wimbledon at Wembley with Plymouth 12 months ago is still fresh in the memory of the EFL League Two right-back of the season.
The previous year Plymouth had lost at the semi-final stage but now Mellor and Seasiders forward Jamille Matt, who was also in last season’s Plymouth Wembley team, are determined not to face that heartbreak again and power Blackpool to glory over Exeter tomorrow.
Mellor reflected: “Winning it the first time was unbelievable. It was a dream come true and as a kid you want to play in those occasions.
“Obviously it was my hometown and I grew up there. It was amazing really.
“Last year with Plymouth we failed at the last hurdle. That was one of the worst feelings ever and I don’t want to experience that again.”
And Mellor says he and a few of the other senior players will be passing on their experiences to help their team-mates win the battle against nerves.
He added: “There are a couple of lads who have played there, so we’ve got to take that experience in and obviously try to pull through.
“There have been a few lads who have been there. You have just got to pass it on and soak in what it actually means.
“It means a lot to the lads and I’m sure the nerves will be there, but we have to take care of everything.
“The experience is there but all you can do is help the lads. Everybody is going to be nervous.
“It is 11 v 11 on the pitch, and it is a squad game so people can come on and make a difference.”
Mellor says Exeter are the favourites despite the fact Blackpool have not lost to the Devon side this season, picking up a 2-0 home win in the league and drawing 2-2 away.
He said: “I don’t think it is the same team we played really. There are a few changes but I think they are favourites. They finished higher than us.
“They have a good squad. Where they have finished in the league shows that.
“They did go on a good run but it is one game and it can go either way.”
After netting an own goal in the semi-final second leg at Luton, Mellor became a hero when his header resulted in the stoppage-time own goal which clinched the tie.
However, the humble defender was not bothered about personal glory and simply happy that the ball went over the line to secure a trip to Wembley and a shot at an immediate return to League One for Pool.
He said: “I’d love to claim the goal but it is a team game and I’m not bothered. We are going to Wembley and that is the main thing!
“The manager has brought everyone back down to earth this week. We just had to train as well and as professionally as we could.
“Now we just have to go into the game full of confidence and see what we can do. It has been a long week but we have got to be ready.”