Hull City won automatic promotion to the English Premier League after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Cardiff City on an extraordinary final day of the Championship season on Saturday.
A point proved enough for Steve Bruce's side, but they had to endure an agonising wait as Watford - their only rivals for the second and final automatic promotion place - succumbed to a late 2-1 home defeat by Leeds United in a match delayed by around 15 minutes.
"I've never experienced anything like that," Bruce, the former Manchester United defender, told Sky Sports.
"They put us through the wringer. Watford pushed us all the way but it was our day."
Cardiff, who had already earned promotion to the Premier League as champions, finished the (second tier) Championship season on 87 points with Hull second on 79.
Watford ended in third on 77 and go into the playoffs, where they will be joined by Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Hull thought they had done enough when Paul McShane's 63rd-minute goal put them 2-1 ahead at the KC Stadium, but two penalties in stoppage time lent the afternoon unexpected twists.
Nick Proschwitz missed his chance from the spot to give Hull a 3-1 lead after a pitch invasion by over-exuberant home fans.
One minute late Cardiff's Nicky Maynard scored from the spot to make it 2-2 following Abdoulaye Faye's handball.
The equaliser stunned the KC Stadium into silence and meant that Watford, who were drawing 1-1 with Leeds at Vicarage Road 200 miles south, needed to find a winner to take them above Hull and into the Premier League.
Gianfranco Zola's side poured forward but they were caught on the counter-attack in the dying moments as Ross McCormack raced clear and chipped substitute keeper Jack Bonham to give Leeds the points.
Bonham, making his senior debut, had come on in the first half for the injured Jonathan Bond, who had been drafted into the starting line-up after first choice Manuel Almunia had picked up a knock in the warm-up.
Leicester sneaked into the top six with a stunning late 3-2 victory at East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest who had started the day with hopes of earning a playoff place.
Anthony Knockaert's stoppage-time winner took Leicester to 68 points, enough to oust Bolton Wanderers, who were in sixth place at kickoff. Bolton came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Blackpool, but it was not enough.
Brighton sent Wolverhampton Wanderers down to (third tier) League One with a 2-0 home win, and Palace came from behind with two goals in the last seven minutes to relegate Peterborough with another remarkable 3-2 victory.
Bottom club Bristol City, who were already relegated, lost 4-1 to Charlton Athletic.