Former Canary seeks playoff success
Ex-Canaries defender Paul Heckingbottom is aiming for a Carrow Road return - if he makes it two successful play-offs in a row this weekend. The 28-year-old, who joined City from Darlington on a free transfer in July 2002, is now wearing the colours of Barnsley, the club he supported as a boy, and should be lining up against Swansea in the Division one play-off final at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Ex-Canaries defender Paul Heckingbottom is aiming for a Carrow Road return - if he makes it two successful play-offs in a row this weekend.
The 28-year-old, who joined City from Darlington on a free transfer in July 2002, is now wearing the colours of Barnsley, the club he supported as a boy, and should be lining up against Swansea in the Division one play-off final at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Heckingbottom is on loan at Oakwell from Sheffield Wednesday - the club he helped to promotion a year ago with a play-off final win over Hartlepool.
This weekend's Cardiff showdown holds a special meaning, with his disappointment at leaving Hillsborough tempered by his next port of call.
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“I was disappointed because I enjoyed my time there, but I wanted to play more regularly and when I heard that Barnsley were interested my mind was made up,” said Heckingbottom in an interview with the PFA's official website.
“Having supported the club as a boy made it a great move for me, and it was a very special moment when I walked out at Oakwell for the first time wearing a Barnsley shirt.
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“Barnsley have been allocated 29,000 tickets (for Saturday) and hopefully we will sell all those because Swansea are sure to have a big following with them being located just down the road. We need all the support we can get.
“This is actually the fourth time I've reached the play-offs as a player. I lost in the semi-finals when I was at Scarborough, lost in the final with Darlington in 2000, but was finally on the winning team when I played in the final for Sheffield Wednesday against Hartlepool last year. To win it two years running would be brilliant
“They are an attacking team and I'm sure it will be a close game. Like us, they tailed off towards the end of the regular season, but that away win at Brentford will have given them a lot of confidence. I think they beat us at their place, but that was before I arrived at Barnsley, and we drew 2-2 against them Oakwell.”
As was the trend in all but one of this year's play-offs throughout the Football League, neither Barnsley nor Huddersfield could win their home games in the play-off semis. Having lost by a single goal in the first leg, Barnsley must have thought they were staying put for at least another season, but a 3-1 win at the Galpharm Stadium changed all that.
“It was a great performance because we were trailing 1-0 from the first leg and Huddersfield is never an easy place to go and get a result,” added Heckingbottom, who made just seven league starts in his one season at Norwich before joining Bradford on a free transfer.
“We went 1-0 up but they equalised shortly afterwards and our chance appeared to have gone. But we then dug in and managed to score two more goals to go through outright.
“They were wonderful atmospheres at both the games. I think there were over 20,000 people at both ties and the fact they were local derbies gave it that extra edge.
“To be fair to Huddersfield, they really tried to take the game to us at their place but we hung in and scored the goals at the right times. In fact, both matches were really open contests - it's just great that we managed to get through.”