My brother Dan plays in goal for Hednesford Town FC and I decided to go and watch him in his side’s Northern Premier League semi-final play-off this week.
I thought it would be a nice break from rugby - but it ended up being a really tense few hours.
He made a bit of a blunder to let AFC Fylde back in it and draw level late on to force extra-time. It was 3-3 at the end of that and so they went to a typically nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out.
When it mattered, Dan saved two Fylde penalties and Hednesford went through to Saturday’s final where they will play at FC United in front of an expected 5,000 people.
I was massively relieved for him and it was great to see them win. I try and watch Dan as much as I can and vice versa.
I won’t be watching his final though because we have a semi-final of our own against Harlequins at Welford Road.
Everyone at the club is pretty bitter about losing the final to them last season and the two league matches they have won at Welford Road in the last two seasons have added to our determination this week.
Those games hurt a lot and have stuck in our mind ever since. Speak to most of the boys in the squad and they will say the same thing.
Everyone is buzzing about the game and we cannot wait for kick-off to get stuck in.
It’s good to be at home too. The support we have received in recent weeks with sell-out after sell-out has been awesome and the atmosphere our home fans create for big games gives us an extra leg up.
There is an added incentive to do well because club legend Geordan Murphy is retiring at the end of the season and head coach Matt O’Connor is leaving to become top dog at Leinster.
We would like to send them out on a high at Twickenham.
There’s a great feeling in the camp and this week has reminded me of how we were leading up to the big win at Northampton and the near-miss at Toulon.
It is going to be an epic contest.
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