A MESSAGE on a bottle helped Huddersfield Town sail back to the Championship on a wave of excitement and emotion at Wembley.
Goalkeeper Alex Smithies was the unlikely scoring hero as Town saw off Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United in an amazing penalty shoot-out in the League I play-off final.
Click on the link below to open a picture gallery of Town in 2012Related content
The Huddersfield-born star taped details of the Blades’ potential penalty takers to his drinks bottle in case the game finished in a draw.
That’s just what happened, and Smithies’ homework paid dividends as he stopped two from the spot before putting away the crucial kick himself.
All 22 players who were on the pitch as the game ended goalless after extra time ended up taking a penalty, with Sheffield keeper Steve Simonsen’s miss meaning Town won 8-7.
Click on the link below for a gallery of celebrations at WembleyRelated content
It was Town’s third play-off campaign running (they had been beaten by Peterborough in the final in 2011 and Millwall in the semis in 2010) and victory meant they returned to the second tier for the first time since 2001.
It was a triumph for owner-chairman and lifelong supporter Dean Hoyle, who dispensed with the services of manager Lee Clark, pictured right, in February, even though Town were fourth in the table.
Town had previously set a Football League record of 43 games unbeaten, and Hoyle’s decision was questioned by the wider football community.
But the multi-millionaire former greetings cards tycoon remained unperturbed, and despite Town’s fierce rivalry with Leeds, appointed ex-Elland Road boss Simon Grayson.
His track record of winning promotion from League I with Blackpool then Leeds, and establishing both in the Championship, impressed Hoyle.
Grayson duly clinched a personal hat trick, and after leading a major restructure of the squad over the summer, and losing strike star Jordan Rhodes to Blackburn in a club-record £8m deal at the end of the August transfer window, had Town up to second earlier this season.
Grayson’s side have slipped to mid-table since then, but hopes are high that they can keep loan strikers James Vaughan and Jermaine Beckford fit and achieve their main objective of avoiding being drawn into a relegation battle.
Norwich’s Vaughan and Leicester’s Beckford had notched four and three goals respectively going into today’s home derby against Sheffield Wednesday, who along with Charlton, claimed automatic promotion from League I.
Grayson, who managed Beckford at Leeds, returned to Elland Road to recruit midfielder Adam Clayton.
He also brought in Wales international defender Joel Lynch (from Nottingham Forest) and Scotland left-back Paul Dixon (Dundee United) as well as centre-back Anthony Gerrard from Cardiff.
Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood arrived from Manchester United along with experienced Blackpool campaigner Keith Southern and Crystal Palace winger Sean Scannell.
Grayson also has Wolves winger Adam Hammill and Reading striker Simon Church on loan at the current time.
Rhodes crossed the Pennines for Ewood Park having notched a remarkable 87 goals in just over three seasons with Town, who had fought off a big bid from West Ham to sign the Scotland international striker last January.
He has netted 11 times in 20 games for Blackburn, including one in their 2-2 draw with Town at the John Smith’s Stadium in November.
Town’s home changed name from the Galpharm in August while the club head into 2013 with their £3.5m Canalside training complex nearing completion.