It's that day. It's that moment. It's that memory you will cherish and think back to. Hopefully. There are not many of these moments in life that you can truly remember the details of that are not family related, like the birth of your first child or the child you don't want your wife to know about.

For me, I know exactly where I was when Princess Diana died and when the Gulf war started. And I also distinctly remember every detail of Aston Villa beating Manchester United and Leeds in the two League Cup finals.

Today could be that day for all of us again. I hope it is. And now, I'm not nervous. I'm not unsure. I'm looking forward and I believe we can do this.

I'm taking a break now, but I'll be back later for a time. I've written every cliché already this week, so I'll not go down that road again. I just hope that after 90 minutes we're not picking out a player or the manager, instead we're celebrating. It's our day if we want it.

Match facts from the BBC

  • Fulham are featuring in their first ever play-off final, having previously lost in the semi-finals in 1988-89 (third-tier), 1997-98 (third-tier) and 2016-17 (second-tier), while Aston Villa have reached the final in their first ever play-off campaign.
  • Steve Bruce is set to manage in his third play-off final - he has been promoted in both of his previous two, progressing on penalties in 2001-02 as Birmingham manager against Norwich and beating Sheffield Wednesday with Hull in 2015-16.
  • Indeed, he's the third manager to manage in three play-off finals in the second tier, after Brian Little (three finals between 1991-92 and 1993-94) and Ian Holloway (2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
  • Bruce has won four promotions to the top flight (2001-02, 2006-07, 2012-13 and 2015-16), a joint-record with Neil Warnock, who achieved his fourth this season with Cardiff.
  • These sides both claimed a win apiece in their Championship meetings this season, with Villa winning 2-1 at Villa Park in October and Fulham winning 2-0 at Craven Cottage in February.
  • The Cottagers are playing just their second match at Wembley - they lost their previous visit in the 1975 FA Cup final against West Ham.
  • Fulham's gap of 15,279 days between playing their first and second matches at Wembley is the third longest in history, after Brentford (19,915 - November 1930 to June 1985) and Southend United (30,073 - December 1930 to April 2013).
  • In Fulham's semi-final second leg against Derby, Ryan Sessegnon became the youngest scorer in the history of the second-tier play-offs (17y 360d). The youngest player to score in a second-tier play-off final is Julian Joachim (18y 253d), who scored for Leicester City against Swindon Town in May 1993.
  • Only Matej Vydra (21) has scored more Championship goals than Lewis Grabban (20) this season - however, Grabban has played six Championship play-off games previously and failed to score in any, featuring in the 2015 final for Norwich and last season's final for Reading.
  • Robert Snodgrass and Ahmed Elmohamady featured in the 2016 Championship play-off final for Steve Bruce's victorious Hull side - Snodgrass assisted Mohamed Diame's winning goal.
  • The team scoring first in the Championship play-off final has gone on to win promotion on each of the past six occasions in which the final has not been goalless - the last time a team failed to win having scored first was Cardiff City in 2010 against Blackpool.
  • Aston Villa have not faced a shot on target in any of their past three halves of football, since a 40th-minute Daniel Ayala header in the first leg of their play-off semi-final (140 minutes in total).

Interview

Author: Damian
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Damian started The Villa Blog as a passion project quite a few years ago while he was living in South Africa. Now living in Sweden, it continues. He's originally from Chasetown and grew up when supporting Villa meant there was a real chance of silverware at the start of every season.