Eight years on since one of the most dramatic afternoons in our history...IT IS eight years ago today that a dramatic late equaliser from Dean Keates at Swindon Town earned us the League Two Championship, only the second Title in our history.
Backed by a following of 3,400 at a sun-kissed County Ground, it was a dramatic afternoon.
Hartlepool United started the day in pole position and were at home to play-off chasing, Bristol Rovers, whilst The Saddlers travelled to face a Robins side who had the third automatic promotion place in their sights.
The odds were stacked against us when Hartlepool took the lead in their game and then we fell behind to Swindon.
Hope was restored when Rovers equalised up in the north-east but as the tension grew, Saddlers’ boss, Richard Money, was sent from the dug-out for comments that he made to the fourth official.
With just four minutes of the season remaining, Hartlepool fell behind in their game meaning that Walsall needed just a point for the Title and our equaliser came in the final minute when Dean Keates tried his luck from distance and the ball flew into the net.
“Being a Walsall boy, every time I played for the club, it was special,” said Keates. “I had grown up supporting the club and a lot of my family and friends were fans, so to score the goal that ultimately clinched the Title is something that I will never forget for as long as I live.
“Even now my heart starts to flutter when I think about it. It was the perfect end to a good season under Richard Money. He was so well-organised and did things his way. His preparation was second-to-none and I enjoyed playing under him.
“He encouraged me to get forward as much as possible and I would like to think that I repaid him with some important goals.”
The final whistle signalled celebrations from both sides as we celebrated winning the League and our hosts also celebrated claiming the last automatic promotion place.
“It was an emotional day,” recalled manager, Richard Money. “We’d been in the top two since September, which was a fantastic achievement in itself, but to win the Championship was a real honour.
“The players did me proud and the support that we received was absolutely superb. It was a real team effort by everyone.”