FOR Barnsley academy coaches Dale Tonge and Martin Devaney, Barnsley’s exhilarating run to the League One play-off final has evoked a nostalgic rewind to some choice events a decade ago.
The pair, alongside caretaker head coach Paul Heckingbottom and head of academy recruitment Bobby Hassell, provide a present-day link to the feted class of 2005-06, who joyously triumphed on penalties at the expense of Swansea City to win promotion at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on May 27, 2006.
After the game ended 2-2, the Reds held their nerve to prevail 4-3 in penalty shoot-out triumph.
The fateful moments arrived when former Doncaster Rovers forward Adebayo Akinfenwa struck his penalty over the crossbar for the Swans, before Nick Colgan took centre stage by making the decisive save from Alan Tate.
The celebrations among Reds players remain the stuff of legion and neither Tonge nor Devaney will forget the day in a hurry.
Full-back Tonge, now 31, raised in the Reds’ supporting stronghold of Bolton-upon-Dearne, was living the dream with his club, although he was quite literally in his own world when it came to the after-match presentations.
Tonge, unable to attend yesterday’s League One show-piece with Millwall at Wembley due to coaching exams at St George’s Park, said: “I was so giddy at the final whistle and it is well documented that I walked straight past the presentation party and never looked and then decked it and slipped on the stage!
“It was on telly and everyone was laughing their heads off!
“I will always remember when we set off back for Barnsley and we literally realised we didn’t have enough beer on the coach. So Andy Ritchie said: ‘Get off the bus.’ There was a massive Tesco’s outside the Millennium and we just emptied the beer aisle and had a great time on the way back.”
He added: “I have a couple of other promotions, but it was the highlight of my career being a local lad. It was overwhelming, the best day of my life really.
“As for the game, I actually remember that I should have been sent off and the referee was very kind at the time!”
On his memories, Devaney, 35, added: “The weekend was great. I remember sharing a room with Hayesy (scorer Paul Hayes) and we couldn’t sleep that evening before the game. It was the excitement and adrenaline.
“It was a strange one, though, as I’d planned my wedding all year and because of the play-offs, I had to put my stag do on hold.
“The weekend after, I got married and I didn’t go back with the lads and I ended up ringing up all my mates on the Sunday and we went out in Birmingham – and that was my stag do!”
The game saw Hayes put Barnsley ahead with a volley before ex-Red Rory Fallon equalised with an overhead strike.
Colgan’s error enabled Andy Robinson to put the Swans ahead, but Daniel Nardiello’s free-kick levelled for the Reds, whose penalty scorers were Hayes, Stephen McPhail, Heckingbottom and Antony Kay.