Saddlers crowned League Two champions on this day a decade ago...
5th May 2007 - Swindon Town 1-1 Walsall
Today’s feature looks back at one of the club’s most successful seasons of all time - our 2006/07 League Two title-winning campaign. The final day of that season was a tense one, with a two horse race between Walsall and Hartlepool United to determine the League Two champions. Pool faced play-off chasing Bristol Rovers, whereas Walsall took on automatic promotion challengers Swindon Town. A win for Walsall would see them lift their first league title in 47 years; however, a draw would still be enough for the league leaders if Hartlepool slipped up against the Pirates.
The Saddlers travelled to the County Ground with five wins in six games under their belts, while opponents Swindon needed a result to see off fellow automatic promotion contenders MK Dons and clinch third spot. Walsall put out a strong side for the fixture, with the dominant presence of Trinidad and Tobago international Clayton Ince in goal, former Coventry full-back Craig Pead, Everton academy graduate and now Oldham defender Anthony Gerrard, ex-Hartlepool and Dudley-born centre-back Chris Westwood, former Celtic wing-back Danny Fox, hard tackling defensive midfield player Michael Dobson, diminutive playmaker, local lad and current Wrexham manager Dean Keates, fans’ favourite Ishmael Demontagnac, West Midlands-born and former Reading striker Martin Butler, ex-Pompey winger Kevin Harper and towering centre-forward forward Trevor Benjamin.
After a tight, evenly matched first half where the tension was at its peak, Swindon opened the scoring on 52 minutes with a diving header from Jerel Ifil. The Robins’ defender scored his first-ever career goal past Ince to give Swindon the lead.
Just before the 90-minute mark, the message was passed around the ground that Bristol Rovers were winning 2-1 at Hartlepool thanks to a headed goal from former Liverpool and Southampton man Rickie Lambert. This result meant that Walsall had the league title potentially secured with minutes to go, unless Hartlepool could turn around the 2-1 deficit.
However, in added time, the Saddlers tied the game. A spectacular well-timed volley from Dean Keates, 20 yards from goal, sailed into the roof of the net, sending a sea of 3,500 Saddlers fans into ecstatic uproar. The Saddlers had clinched the League Two title! There were also celebrations for Swindon, who secured automatic promotion to League One as the third-placed team in the league. A real festival atmosphere surrounded the stadium that day with 15,000 in attendance to witness a memorable final day of the season. Many Saddlers fans remember this game and the dramatic finale as their stand-out moment in supporting the Saddlers.
Other fixtures on this day...
2012 - MK Dons 0-1 Walsall
2001 - Northampton 0-3 Walsall
1990 - Bristol City 4-0 Walsall
1984 - Plymouth 3-1 Walsall