IF Barnsley require any further inspiration in their latest final-day Championship safety quest it can be found in the events of exactly five years ago.
The venue was Huddersfield Town’s John Smith’s Stadium on May 4, 2013 where a special afternoon saw everything come together by the end, with a post-match ‘love-in’ ensuing between relieved Town and Reds fans, who both basked in the glow of retaining their second-tier status after a 2-2 derby draw.
Cries of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ echoed around the stadium on an occasion billed as ‘Survival Saturday’ and it was a joyous day few will ever forget – least of all former Reds captain Luke Steele.
The goalkeeper, now at Bristol City, was at the centre of one of the strangest finales seen at a football match, with both sides effectively downing tools late on, mindful they were safe after Peterborough went behind in the 89th minute at Crystal Palace.
The sight of Steele – ironically from Peterborough – with the ball at his feet, in open play, for fully two minutes with home and away players urging him to keep it and leaving him unchallenged harked back to the famous Germany versus Austria ‘Anschluss’ game in the 1982 World Cup when both nations played out time to qualify at the expense of poor Algeria.
It formed part of a tumultuous afternoon with the current Barnsley side seeking their own precious memories at play-off candidates Derby County on Sunday on an occasion when a draw for both might just be enough to spark similar late scenes and successful conclusions to their respective missions.
On that bizarre May, 2013 finale, Steele told The Yorkshire Post: “That was never part of the plan and we never discussed it. I was sprinting for the ball as the ballboys weren’t stopping to get it. I sprinted for the one before and got the ball going quickly.
“But for the next one I remember Jim McNulty ran down the touchline and it was only then when I looked up and saw everybody going, ‘calm down’. We started playing again and the ball came back to me, but I did not realise Huddersfield were the ones causing that by not coming to me.
“It was one of those moments you can never plan. It ended up being Peterborough going down, my home town. That is football.
“The Yorkshire chant was a really cool moment. I have never seen two sets of fans coming together like that before. I was not really so aware of it on the day, but I remember watching it back on YouTube and hearing the chants and I thought that was marvellous. The Huddersfield fans were great and coming on the pitch and saying, ‘well done’. There were no idiots at all.
“Hopefully Barnsley can do it again. It is a huge weekend and we have looked at the table with eagle eyes. It is going to be one of those days and you will need big players and to be organised. It could be down to one save, goal or tackle for all of the sides.
“It really is about characters. You can have talent, but you really need to pull together at this time and I just know that the Barnsley fans never give in.”
Likely to be in goal for the Reds in their latest D-day fixture is Jack Walton, a comparative rookie compared to Steele five years ago, but the former Oakwell favourite feels his youth could be a good thing.
Steele added: “He has done great and kept a clean sheet in the last home game and that will be great for his confidence as 20 is very young. That might work in their favour as he may not have as much to lose and it might relax him and, hopefully, he will have a blinder.”