Smithies living the dream after Wembley triumph

Huddersfield's Alex Smithies and Jack Hunt celebrate.
Huddersfield's Alex Smithies and Jack Hunt celebrate.
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Huddersfield Town penalty hero Alex Smithies said it was “a dream come true” after firing his hometown club to promotion.

Smithies, who was drafted in after Ian Bennett had to withdraw through injury, converted what turned out to be the winning penalty when Sheffield United custodian Steve Simonsen missed his spot-kick.

Town finally won the League One play-off final 8-7 on penalties at Wembley, after 120 minutes of football failed to muster a goal.

“I didn’t know I was playing on Thursday,” said Smithies. “It’s a dream come true.

“Born and raised in Huddersfield, it’s an absolute dream come true. I can’t believe it. I’ve not got the words.

“They asked me if I’d take a penalty and I said ‘yeah I’ll take the 11th’. So I just went up and whacked it.”

For Town manager Simon Grayson it capped a remarkable job after taking over from the sacked Lee Clark.

All 22 players had to try their luck from the spot as Sheffield United were beaten 8-7 on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate.

Incredibly, Huddersfield missed their first three efforts but scored their next eight to seal Championship football and Grayson was understandably proud of his players.

“It was just an unbelievable day wasn’t it,” Grayson said.

“The game was so tight. We had a few opportunities and they did.

“To go down to the penalties and as far as it did... It’s a great occasion for us but I feel sorry for Sheffield United and Danny (Wilson), a few of their players were in my team at Leeds and other clubs.

“Unfortunately there can only be one team who wins and they’ve given a great account of themselves.

“We’re just obviously delighted that we’ve won and are going to the Championship.

“Lee Clark deserves a lot of credit because he’s had this team up from the start of the season as well,” he added.

“I’ve got a chairman who went out of his way to attract me to this football club. The ambition of it all.

“We’re just going forward and it’s a great occasion for the club.

“You’ve got to have the nerve to take it,” he said. “You’ve got to be brave and have responsibility. My goalkeeper has been unbelievable and they’re a Championship team now - it’s great.”