Two amazing games I’ll never forget - and just seven days apart.

AT a rough estimate, I must have attended close to 600 football matches on behalf of The Yorkshire Post spanning a period of almost eight years. I really should say seasons.

James Coppinger scores THAT goal after Marcello Trotta's penalty howler.

The law of averages would suggest that the odds of covering two games which will forever be part of Football League folklore – well beyond the boundaries of Yorkshire – in the space of just seven days would be fairly long.

But that is exactly what occurred between the dates of April 27 and May 4 in one crazy week at the end of the 2012- 13 campaign.

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When you are used to taking in seventy-plus games per season, memories from the overwhelming majority of matches fade into the ether.

04 May 2013. Huddersfield Town v Barnsley. Barnsley manager David Flitcroft and his players celebrate after hearing the Peterborough result.

Yes, some are brilliant and dramatic – and venerable in terms of occasion or venue – but many are prosaic. I can recall seeing an aggregate of three goals in six consecutive games some years back, but I digress.

The complimentary match programmes invariably end up in a binbag in the garage or in the filing cabinet and that it is pretty much that until the next spring clean at any rate.

I have not got the programmes to hand from Doncaster Rovers’ game at Brentford or Huddersfield Town’s home derby with Barnsley from that finale in 2012-13, but the souvenirs are all in my mind’s eye.

In chronological order, we’ll start with events at Griffin Park.

Barnsley keeper Luke Steele celebrates at full time.

A club situated on the flight path to the nearby Heathrow Airport, Brentford were cleared for take-off to the Championship after a delay, but it was dramatically aborted late on.

It was Rovers who were destined for the sunny climes of the second-tier after 17 seconds of madness in the fourth minute of stoppage-time when the attention of the sporting nation briefly centred on one corner of West London.

The day would start in customary fashion when covering a game in the capital. A coffee or two and a scan of the papers on the trip south before negotiating London’s Tube and rail network to get to my destination in good time.

Being a Doncaster lad, a quick catch-up with some Rovers-supporting mates in a Brentford watering hole – soft drinks for me – represented an added extra.

As they tucked into their pints of Fuller’s , there was expectation at what effectively amounted to a cup final between two sides pushing for a place in the Championship, with Brentford needing to win to go up – while Rovers only required a draw.

I departed and said we’d have to catch up after the match, oblivious to the fact that my friends would be too stupefied to converse sensibly.

It was nothing to do with alcohol either, but everything to do with the events at Griffin Park – it was hard to comprehend what actually happened, in truth.

The press box was mown out and it was also a scrum in the overflow seats where I was sat with my laptop positioned on my knee.

On the pitch, the tension was palpable with flowing football being a total no-no. Still, Rovers were tantalisingly placed to claim the point they required to secure a top-two finish and then it happened.

A bonkers fourth minute of stoppage-time had more drama than the previous 94 nerve-strewn minutes put together.

Amid late Bees pressure in front of the Ealing Road end, big Rovers defender Jamie McCombe stuck out an arm and Michael Oliver pointed to the spot – as those in visiting green fell to the floor.

It’s up for grabs now, as the late Brian Moore would have said, but Marcelo Trotta took the message too literally.

The impetuous Trotta ultimately proved a bit of a ‘plonker’ by taking a penalty that captain Kevin O’Connor was supposed to take to fire the hosts into the Championship.

To this day, I remember Rovers striker Billy Paynter sat on the away bench, barely able to watch.

Of course, Trotta’s effort would shudder the woodwork and the rest is history.

Amid the commotion, Rovers raced upfield in the space of 17 bewildering seconds and went from staring down the barrel in the play-off lottery to champions.

Paynter hastily returned to the pitch and set up James Coppinger, who tapped the ball into the empty net in front of 1,800 delirious visiting fans.

With my working hat on, the adrenalin then kicked in.

While stunned Brentford supporters just stood there looking aghast at each other, I somehow made it onto the pitch and got an interview with Rovers’ ebullient chairman John Ryan and McCombe – the most relieved man in London.

My mates in the upper tier of the Brook Road stand spotted me and gave me a wave – and a song if I remember – and after finishing off and commiserating with the Brentford press contingent who took the blow of defeat with admirable class, it was a quick pint in Putney with my muckers before heading back north on the train and finally pausing for breath.

If that dénouement was tumultuous, the next weekend’s events were plain weird, but wonderful all the same at the John Smith’s Stadium.

It produced arguably the strangest-ever finale ever seen at a football match in England.

Drawing 2-2, both Town and Barnsley – pitted in a last-day fight to avoid relegation to the third tier – downed tools in ‘Fergie Time’, mindful they were both safe after Peterborough went behind in the 89th minute at Crystal Palace courtesy of Eagles skipper Mile Jedinak.

The sight of Reds’ goalkeeper and captain Luke Steele – a Peterborough lad – 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 was bizarre in the extreme.

The scenes at the end when both sets of supporters among that 21,614 crowd staged an on-pitch ‘love-in’ amid hearty chants of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ were grand and unforgettable.

In a modern-day era when the parochialism of football fans is often both nasty and depressing in equal measure – not helped by the advent of social media – this was beautiful. It had been a see-saw match with both sides in the drop zone at separate junctures.

How I felt for Town chairman Dean Hoyle, positioned near the press box and going through every emotion and kicking every ball that day as he usually does.

I also vividly remember Hoyle going through the mill during Town’s League One play-off semi-final second leg with Bournemouth, which went to penalties in May 2011. Thankfully, he also got the outcome he wanted on that day.

On that same Saturday, there were similarly incredulous events at the top end of the Championship which ended in promotion to the top-flight for Hull City after more late drama.

I recall speaking to my former colleague Richard Sutcliffe after the Tigers’ pulsating finale against Cardiff at the KCOM Stadium and the pair of us trying to make sense of it all. What a front page for Monday, though...

Football, bloody hell.

It’s rarely boring at Rotherham United...

On the day that Doncaster Rovers were promoted at Brentford on April 27, 2013, it was not the only Yorkshire football story in town.

Rotherham United returned to the third tier after a 2-0 win over Aldershot on the last day of the 2012-13 season, with a picture of the celebrations as ecstatic Millers fans prepared to race onto the pitch after Lee Frecklington’s late strike to clinch victory hanging proudly on the wall in the office of Steve Evans during his reign.

When it comes to late-season dramas while working for The Yorkshire Post, the Millers have proved the kings.

I was present in their final home game of the next season when they sealed a place at Wembley after a 3-1 triumph over Preston in the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final – and the Millers went onto beat Leyton Orient on penalties in the showpiece.

A cherished triumph over Reading to preserve their Championship status at the end of 2014-15 was special and the Neil Warnock-inspired Great Escape of 2015-16 was just something else.

Then there was promotion through the play-offs back to the Championship in 2017-18. It’s rarely boring at Rotherham.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson

Editor