Booth looks to cap career

Andy Booth says victory in the Third Division play-off final against Mansfield at the Millennium Stadium today would be the highlight of his career.

Born in Huddersfield and a lifelong fan, Booth has devoted more than seven years in two spells to the team. His mother and father work on the turnstiles at the McAlpine Stadium and this season Booth became the fifth player to score 100 goals for the club.

"It would be the pinnacle of my career if we went up, without question. We won the Second Division play-off final in 1995," Booth said, referring to the 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers at Wembley, in which he scored. "But this season we've worked so hard and, given what we had at the beginning of the season, and all the young lads that have come in, it would a fantastic achievement if we got promoted."

The last year of Huddersfield's existence - facing financial ruin and with just eight players under contract when the manager Peter Jackson took charge, they finished a remarkable fourth in the table - is typical of Booth's roller-coaster career.

In addition to that goal at Wembley, his CV includes a £2.7m move to Sheffield Wednesday, with whom he spent five seasons in the Premiership, an inauspicious loan spell at Tottenham Hotspur and two relegations upon his return to Town.

"It's going to be daunting for me. You still get nervous beforehand, no matter how many big games you've played in," he said. "But I've got confidence in these lads, they've got confidence in themselves and I don't think there will be a problem."

The Mansfield captain, Kevin Pilkington, will lead his side out hoping he does not have to be the hero again.

Pilkington saved the crucial spot-kick to decide an epic semi-final with Northampton last week to push his side to within one win of the Second Division.

"I didn't have a drink after that win but I felt like I'd had 10 pints when I woke up in the morning," he said. "The night was just a blur really, but it was a night of real highs and lows, and it helped to have a few days off after that.

"I haven't been practising saving penalties this week - just taking them - and I think I'm about 13th on the list at the moment. But if it does go to penalties again I believe I'll always save one out of the five, although I'd rather it didn't."

Installing Pilkington as captain was one of Keith Curle's most significant decisions during his short time at the club, and the Mansfield manager is confident his captain will exert a calming influence on his side in the build-up to kick-off.

He said: "I knew I needed somebody honest, dedicated and professional to lead the side and Kevin has been all of that this season."

Comments