football play-offs

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The Independent Culture
Even if you're a neutral, the promotion play-off finals at Wembley take some beating for sheer intensity. Sitting by a group of young Leicester City fans during the final against Swindon a couple of years ago made for fantastic people-watching, and when their team lost out in the final throes of an unbelievably thrilling match, it was positively heart-rending to witness their devastation.

With their once-in-a-lifetime feel, most of the games are like that, and there are still tickets available for this season's finale. Bury, one of the Wembley virgins, meet Chesterfield in the Third Division final tomorrow; Huddersfield, managed by Neil Warnock, the former Notts County man in his third straight play-off final, take on Bristol Rovers in the Second on Sunday; while in the First Division final on Monday, Bolton Wanderers (below) play Reading, whose second place in the table would normally have meant automatic promotion - after rising from the Second last year, too.

Having disposed of several Premiership sides in the knock-out competitions these last two seasons, Wanderers are battle-hardened and look well placed to join the elite. Promotion may be the only way they will hold on to such assets as centre-half Alan Stubbs, touted as a future England international, not to mention Bruce Rioch, the object of attention for several participants in the recent managerial sacking frenzy. Expect plenty of hysteria at Wembley for the next three days.

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