Updated: Barnsley’s Flat Cap Army heads for Wembley

Barnsley fans Joanne and Amalie Perry arrive at the ground.

Barnsley fans Joanne and Amalie Perry arrive at the ground.

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For some young Barnsley fans, today’s day out at Wembley will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For a fan of 75 years like Dickie Bird, lifting the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy would come a close second to promotion.

Barnsley fans on Wembley Way before the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Barnsley fans on Wembley Way before the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

The Tykes are preparing for their cup meeting with Oxford United today, the culmination of a remarkable run that has seen them knock out four Sky Bet League One rivals, including Fleetwood on penalties in the area final.

More than 20,000 Barnsley fans - many wearing flat caps in an ironic nod to their traditional roots - are already on their way to the capital for the match which kicks off at 2.30pm.

Among the travellers was ‘Barnsley Bard’ Ian McMillan, pictured on a London-bound train this morning by Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher.

By his own admission Bird, a former Yorkshire cricketer, international umpire, and former president of the current county cricket champions, has seen it all during a lifetime of support, including the heartache of losing to Cardiff in a FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in 2008.

Barnsley fans on Wembley Way before the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Barnsley fans on Wembley Way before the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

While victory today would go a long way towards soothing that pain, Bird insists Barnsley will not rest until another Wembley visit is booked and then successfully negotiated.

Barnsley are near the play-off spots, and Bird said: “I’ve seen all the ups and downs - when we went in the Premiership is number one.

“What’s more important to us is to get into the Championship for next season.

“For the Barnsley supporters, magnificent supporters, to get into the Championship will be the icing on the cake. I think that is the number-one priority.

Ian McMillan and friends near Wembley

Ian McMillan and friends near Wembley

“I feel so pleased for the Barnsley supporters, and if we get into the Championship we can get 19,000 in a week.

“It’s a shame if we have to play in the first division again.”

That is not to say that a cup win alone would leave Bird disheartened.

Now nearly 83, the disappointment was evident in Bird’s voice as he recalled the loss to Cardiff - a feeling that should motivate interim manager Paul Heckingbottom’s side in the capital city.

Ian McMillan pictured on a London-bound train by Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher and posted on his Twitter page.

Ian McMillan pictured on a London-bound train by Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher and posted on his Twitter page.

“Heartbreaking that, of course it was,” Bird said of the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff which came courtesy of Joe Ledley’s strike. “I was there. I thought Barnsley were a bit unlucky to lose.

“We missed a sitter, our centre-forward. He only had the goalkeeper to beat but he hit the side netting. That was a big disappointment to us all.

“We’d have won the cup that year, I definitely think. We haven’t won the cup since 1912 so that would have been a magnificent achievement.

“Being a Barnsley man, I still live in the town, I was born and bred in the town, I’m a freeman of the borough - that means a lot to me. (Victory on Sunday) would mean a lot. I would be very pleased.”

Bird is therefore hoping Heckingbottom can finish off what former manager Lee Johnson started.

It was Johnson who got Barnsley to Wembley, overseeing wins against Scunthorpe, Bradford, York, Wigan, and then Fleetwood, before taking the manager’s post at his beloved Bristol City.

Heckingbottom, though, has wasted little time endearing himself to Tykes fans, as the team have lost just twice in his 11-game spell.

Bird hopes Heckingbottom can enjoy an extended stay at Oakwell.

“I’m very supportive of this fellow here, he’s got us to where we are,” Bird said. “Since Johnson left, this fellow took over and he’s a Barnsley man, he played for the club and he’s now the manager.

“I would give him the job, make him manager. He’d have the job now. That’s going to get us in to the play-offs, win the play-offs... and then Championship football.

“We’ve a good chance. We’ll definitely get to the play-offs. And that’s another trip to Wembley - that’s an achievement in itself!”

Bird does not approve of the concept of penalty shootouts and he has forgotten the name of the non-league opposition from “just outside of Liverpool” that gave Barnsley their “biggest shock”.

However, cup confidence is in no short supply, as he said: “I’ve been a Barnsley supporter for about 75 years. I think Barnsley will win comfortably.

“I think Barnsley should win 2-0. I don’t bet, I’m not a betting man, I don’t bet at all. I just think Barnsley will win 2-0.

“It will be good for the Barnsley supporters, it’s a day out at Wembley. If they haven’t been it’s a great day out. They’ll enjoy it.”

One supporter, Nick Murray, 31, a mortgage advisor of Woolley Grange, Barnsley, said: “It is unbelievable. Everyone is wearing flats caps. Leaving Barnsley this morning, it was like everyone was going on a pub trip.”

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