Friday 2 May ~
Leeds United's appeal against their 15-point deduction has been the big story in League One recently. Now that it has been established that Gary McAllister's side will be in the play-offs, Swansea can celebrate winning the divisional title. And media attention will duly turn to the possibility of Leeds playing Forest in the semi-finals or at Wembley. Forest, who have won five of their last six games, could still get automatic promotion if they win at home to Yeovil tomorrow while their two promotion rivals falter. Those two clubs, Carlisle and Doncaster, deserve more coverage for their recent achievements given that both had seemed on the verge of extinction after sinking into non-League football.
If Doncaster go up, it will be their first season at at the second level since 1957-58. Owner John Ryan has been accused at times of being a little over-fond of personal publicity, notably when he became the oldest ever League player after coming on a substitute in the club's final match in the Conference in 2002-03. But Ryan nonetheless played a major role in saving the club which had been systematically run down by former owner Ken Richardson. The latter was finally jailed in 1999 for his involvement in an attempt to burn down the stadium, Belle Vue.
Carlisle's former owner Michael Knighton was often politely described as being “larger than life”. He first came to national prominence through a failed attempt to take over Man Utd, later publicly discussed his experience of having once seen a UFO and had a brief and unsuccessful spell as Carlisle manager. Knighton departed just before the club dropped into the Conference after their fifth relegation fight in six seasons. However, Carlisle returned to the League straight away and in 2006-07, finished eighth in League One, their best season in 20 years. The club's crowds are now back to where they were in the mid-1970s, when they had a season at the top level.
Just over a year ago, Forest's opponents tomorrow, Yeovil, won 5-2 at the City Ground in one of the most dramatic ever play-off matches. But they have nothing to play for now while both Carlisle and Doncaster face teams (Bournemouth and Cheltenham respectively) who need a win to avoid relegation. So the odds favour Forest who could yet be joined in the Championship by Leeds. But fans of the latter will have to forgive us for hoping to see pictures of Ken Bates's little old face crumpled in defeat at some point over the next fortnight.