AS the Preston North End players celebrated promotion on the Wembley turf a little under a year ago, Kyel Reid joined in with gusto.
The Londoner may have been an unused substitute for the 4-0 play-off final victory over Swindon Town, while his last action for Simon Grayson’s side may also have come more than three months earlier via a late cameo from the bench in an FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Manchester United.
But, as the North End players partied amid the fireworks and ticker-tape celebration that invariably accompanies a trophy presentation at the national stadium, Reid was determined to enjoy the moment.
He had, of course, been there before, as a member of the Bradford City side that won promotion from League Two. And it is with the Bantams that Reid is hoping to be making another trip to Wembley later this month.
“Things are going really well,” said the 28-year-old, who has been on loan at Valley Parade since October, to The Yorkshire Post. “I am feeling great and so are the lads.
“The last few weeks have shown we have the momentum and everyone is feeling really positive. If we can keep that going then we have a great chance of achieving something big. As long as we stick to what we need to do.”
City guaranteed their place in the play-offs a week ago with a 1-0 victory at Southend United. Tomorrow will reveal Bradford’s semi-final opponents with the smart money being on Millwall being the club that will stand between Phil Parkinson’s men and a possible return trip to Wembley.
If that proves to be the case, expect two tight affairs in the semi-finals with the goalless October meeting between the two clubs at The Den being followed by a hard-fought 1-0 win for the hosts at Valley Parade on Easter Saturday.
Reid, for his part, isn’t unduly fussed who the Bantams face. He just wants to book that third trip to Wembley in four seasons.
“I was on the bench for Preston against Swindon in the final a year ago,” said the wideman. “I didn’t get to come on, which was a shame. I’d tasted the experience of playing at Wembley before and there is nothing better.
“All your friends and family are there, and you want to do your best. It didn’t happen for me last year but it was great to be part of the squad on such a special day.
“I still felt part of it, all the celebrations and that. But I have to admit there is a part of you that just wanted to have got on the pitch. Hopefully, I can get back there this time and help Bradford lift the trophy. We all want to get this great club where it belongs. It needs to be in a division higher up.
“If we could repeat what we did a few years ago in League Two then what an incredible end to the season that would be.”
City’s prospects look promising. A 25-point haul from the last 11 games is the highest in League One, while Parkinson has a squad at his disposal dripping with big match experience.
Just last season, Bradford beat Chelsea and Sunderland en route to the FA Cup quarter-finals while the team that faces Chesterfield tomorrow could feature as many as five members of the starting XI that triumphed at Wembley in the play-offs.
Reid is one of those survivors along with Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, James Meredith and James Hanson and the wideman sees clear similarities with that 2013 success.
“The atmosphere is very, very similar to back then,” said Reid. “That is what I feel. There is a real buzz about the club and it feels like the entire city of Bradford is right behind us, which is exactly what happened in 2013.
“Everyone has been hitting form at the right time and the results have been coming, which is what you have to take into the play-offs.
“I know the play-offs are one-off games and that anything can happen. But confidence can be a massive part of it and we certainly have that right now.
“There are quite a few players in that dressing room who have been here before, too. That can be a big help. We are ready to go and looking forward to it.”
Reid’s first taste of the play-offs came with Charlton Athletic in 2010. Parkinson, then in charge at The Valley, had signed the winger on loan from West Ham United midway through that season and his four goals in 17 appearances helped the Addicks finish fourth.
Swindon then knocked Charlton out on penalties, meaning Reid has tasted the huge lows that the play-offs can bring along with the highs that accompanied both Bradford and Preston’s success. He is an avowed fan of the promotion deciders.
“The play-offs are amazing to be involved in,” he said. “Just great to play in. Especially if you can win a promotion, that is great to have on your CV.
“All footballers watch them on TV but being involved is something else. Everyone wants to play in them, and I know the fans love them as well.
“Our fanbase could play a big part for us. We are guaranteed to be well supported in these play-offs. The fans are buzzing for it. So are the players, especially as we are in form at the right time, both as a team and as individuals.
“Look at James Hanson against Walsall recently. He had been waiting for his chance and when it came along, his first hat-trick was the result. It showed we have a lot of attacking players who can make an impact. It means teams have to try and stop us.
“I’d imagine we would be the one team that the others want to avoid over two legs, rather than us worrying about them. Having said that, we have to stay focused, keep our heads down and just worry about ourselves. If we do that, we will be in a great position. As long as we do our jobs, I firmly believe that, on our day, we can turn anyone over.”