Sunday April 26 2009 will go down as a momentous day in the history of Burton Albion.
For this was the date that the club finally secured its dream of promotion to the Football League for the first time in its history. The Brewers may have stumbled to the finish line in recent weeks, but there is no denying the fact that over the whole season the team are worthy winners. The Brewers become the fourth team from the town to have played League football, following Burton Swifts, Burton Town and Burton United. However, it is 102 years since any of them last played in the League.
Burton fans travelled in their hordes to South Devon hoping to see a piece of history, with only Cambridge United able to pip them on goal difference. In the end the result at Torquay was irrelevant as the U’s could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Altrincham, leaving Burton the winners by two points, despite their 2-1 loss at Plainmoor.
Albion made a good start to the game, taking the lead in the ninth minute when Marc Goodfellow fired home in front of the Burton fans to send them into raptures. The lead was short lived however, with Chris Hargreaves levelling proceedings just four minutes later. Torquay scored what turned out to be the winning goal just a minute into the second half to leave Burton fans anxiously listening to the score from Cambridge. They were helped by the fact that Burton’s match actually kicked off nine minutes after all of the others due to television delays, so the players and fans knew well before the final whistle that they were champions despite the loss.
Many a tear was spilt as over 1,000 fans joined their playing heroes in celebrating the award of the trophy to captain Darren Stride on the pitch after the game. It was perhaps fitting that former manager Nigel Clough was there to witness the completion of the job he started, and his replacement Roy McFarland himself had to fight back tears of joy. He admitted: “We’ve done it through the season - not just one game or four or five games but over 46 matches through effort and hard work, with a lot of skill thrown in along the way.”