PNE fans’ panel: John Roper says ‘It’s our turn’

PNE ace Jermaine Beckford
PNE ace Jermaine Beckford
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The great day is almost upon us and I suppose most of us are looking forward to it, albeit with a huge amount of trepidation.

Nine previous play-off defeats does nothing to calm the nerves of the faithful.

Most of who believe that this time we will actually do it – mind you we thought that last time at Cardiff!

For North End it is the culmination of what will have been a 63 competitive match season and the two-week break between the Chesterfield game and the final will, no doubt, have been welcomed amongst the playing staff.

With ticket sales looking to be around 25,000, North End should have a great vocal following at Wembley in spite of a ridiculous kick-off time, poor rail travel and the hangover of nine previous failures.

It is 21 years since we graced the home of football and for a whole new generation of North End fans this will be a new and wonderful experience.

People tell me that going up via the play-offs is the best way to get promoted, and that is as maybe.

But in spite of being favourites for the game you just can’t help thinking that maybe a chance 
was missed in Essex three weeks ago.

I don’t think anyone is in any doubt that the game represents a defining moment for the short-term future of North End. with a victory seeing us back in the Championship after what seems a very long four-year absence.

The rewards that come with promotion are many.

But aside from the increase in revenue, it means you get a shot at the Premier League and, with the new TV rights deal coming in at the start of the 2016/17 season, promotion again would mean £99m TV monies, minimum, to the team that finishes bottom.

Defeat, on the other hand, would leave us having to pick up the pieces and go again.

But I think, and fear, that another body blow to the fans would mean more deserting and a drop in season ticket sales.

Anyway. let us look on the bright side and just hope that we can put in the performance and the effort that we put in against Chesterfield in the second leg at Deepdale.

Swindon have some talented players, of that there is no doubt, but they are a young side and a lot may depend on how they handle the occasion.

Clearly, they are a force going forward and play an brand of football that is pleasing on the eye, however they can be very brittle at the back and maybe they will play a more controlled game which might well play into our hands.

We have the quality within our squad to get the job done and if Garner, Beckford, Gallagher and Johnson play to their full potential, then Swindon have got problems.

On the face of it motivation shouldn’t be a problem walking out at Wembley in front of 40-odd thousand people.

But footballers are human beings and while some will embrace it, others will be more than a little taken back by it all.

I think North End will be better placed for the big occasion with the amount of experience in the team and I am sure that players like Welsh, Kilkenny and Davies will keep all the young lads in the squad nice and calm as the moment approaches.

As for the fans, well it is a date with destiny, the moment when we can put 26 years of play-off hurt finally to bed.

The fans will do their part, as they always do, and this time I genuinely do think it is our turn.

Our turn to wait behind for half-an-hour after the game, our turn to dance in the streets of North London, our turn to be the back page winners on Monday morning and our turn to let the world know that, yes, we are the famous Preston North End and that this time we got it right.

So go and do it boys, embrace the day, win your own personal battles, put the Proud back in Preston and return us back to the second tier with all our heads held high.