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Ben Herd's Play-off Final Diary: Wembley heartbreak

Ben Herd RSS / Ben Herd / 25 May 2009 / 1 Comments " class="free-bet-btn" rel="external" onclick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/G4/inline-freebet');" target="_blank">Free Bet

In his penultimate piece for betting.betfair, Ben Herd provides a diary of Saturday's events as Shrewsbury Town took on Gillingham in the League Two play-off final at Wembley.

8:15am: Luckily my room mate Omer Riza woke up by his own accord because for some reason my alarm failed to go off. After a quick wash it was down to breakfast.

Breakfast is completely optional for the players - some have it, some don't, and there's no set time. A few of the lads were down and everyone seemed pretty relaxed, even the Doc was down...Funny how he always travels away when we're staying somewhere nice!

9:00am: I go to see Chris Humphrey and Kelvin Langmead in their room. The buzz of the day starts with Kelvin walking around in his pants with tunes blaring out from his i-dock. I do feel the buzz but it's tempered by the fear that I may not be involved today. I retreat back to my room where Omer and I have a deep and meaningful chat about the prospect of neither of us playing.

11.00am: All the lads meet staff members in the foyer for a group walk. This is customary on pretty much every stop over we have but, to be honest, the view around The Grove's golf course is unrivalled by the sort of hotels we usually stay at. On such a lovely day it's nice to walk around with the lads and relax before we set off for Wembley. One thing which is unique about this little walk is that we come across a snake on the football pitch - a young Adder I believe!

11.30am: Back into the dining room for pre-match meal. Pretty much every pre-match, the food is the same with your choices of chicken breast, scrambled egg, beans, pasta, pasta sauce and toast. I always stick to chicken, scrambled eggs and beans. The staff at The Grove are superbly efficient; as soon as you eat your last bean on your plate, they're there to whisk it away.

12.15pm: Suited and booted, we leave the splendour of our hotel and make the 40-minute trip down the M1 to Wembley. Coach driver Bernie, who the lads say I look like (cheers), puts some decent tunes on for us. Unusually for Bernie, he manages not to drive into traffic. All the lads seem pretty relaxed, there's no tension or anything like that - it feels like a normal away game.

13.00pm: We are greeted at Wembley by a few hundred of our own fans, and it's at this point that the day get's serious and we remember that we're here to do a job. We visited Wembley on the Friday to familiarise ourselves with the place but we have a quick walk on the pitch again now.

When you enter the dressing room and see your shirt hanging on a peg, there's no greater feeling. Unfortunately, this feeling is short-lived. I'm not on the bench.

So, after wishing all the boys and the staff well for the game, I make my way up to see my family in the Great Hall, one of the hospitality restaurants.

15.00pm: Kick-off. Myself and the other lads who aren't involved sit in the dugout, to give us that feeling of togetherness.

16.50pm: An absolute sucker punch, we concede a goal in the 90th minute and are unable to reply, so for the second time in three years, I am part of a losing play-off final team.
There are no words that can describe how gutted I feel and it certainly doesn't get any better second time around! After showing our appreciation to the fans, we head in to the changing room, where, understandably, it is like a morgue.

There's nothing anyone can really say to soften the blow. I go back up to the player's lounge where my family are and then say goodbye to Wembley. Who knows, maybe it will be third time lucky if the opportunity presents itself again, but I must say that automatic promotion seems the more sane route.

Comments (1)

  1. herdyissuperman | 27 May 2009

    I cant believe that simmo has dropped you :( it must be the worst descision he has made at the club so far

    Good luck (I would imagine) in league 1 next season

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