Live Updates: Wells & Huddersfield Promoted!

May 29, 2017

[Updating: It went down to the wire, with extra time and penalties -- with Nahki Wells converting his penalty -- and Huddersfield has won and will be promoted to the Premier League! After the game, Nahki showcased his national pride, draping himself in the Bermuda flag in front of over 70,000 fans at Wembley, as he and his team celebrated their victory and promotion to the Premier League!]

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[Written by Nathan Carr]

On Monday, Bermuda’s star striker Nahki Wells is set to make his third appearance at Wembley Stadium when his club Huddersfield Town lock horns with Reading in the Championship playoff final.

Only three Bermudian players have ever graced the hallowed Wembley turf: Shaun Goater, Kyle Lightbourne and Wells.

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Goater became the first Bermudian to play at Wembley – which was renovated a decade ago – when he represented Rotherham United in the 1996 Auto Windscreens Shields Trophy. He teed up his striking teammate Nigel Jemson for the first of his two goals as the Millers beat Shrewsbury Town 2-1 on their first visit to the prestigious stadium. Goater was a constant thorn in Shrewsbury’s side with his elusive movement and skill on the ball.

Three years later, the predatory striker was back at Wembley but with a different club this time: Manchester City. He had enjoyed a wonderful 1998-99 season and was looking to put the icing on the cake with victory over Gillingham in the Football League Second Division playoff final. Indeed, his goal in the playoff semi-final second leg against Wigan Athletic guaranteed City’s place in the final.

In front of a raucous, sell-out crowd, Goater played the full 120 minutes in what turned out to be a thrilling encounter at Wembley. City netted two late, late goals to force extra time and Goater was involved in both. For the first, he was through on goal before the Gillingham defender’s clearance landed at the feet of Kevin Horlock who coolly finished on the edge of the 18-yard-box.

For the second, his deflected shot inadvertently set up Paul Dickov to send the City faithful into absolute delirium. Goater’s side prevailed 3-1 on penalties which gave them promotion to the First Division, now known as the Premier League. “As a youngster in Bermuda I always had a dream of playing at Wembley,” said Goater after the game. “It was such an important game and to win at Wembley was massive.”

Kyle Lightbourne made his Wembley debut in the 2000 Auto Windscreens Shields Trophy – the last Football League Trophy final held at the old stadium [before the new 90,000 capacity stadium opened in 2007]. He played 89 minutes for Stoke City in their 2-1 win over Bristol City in front of just over 75,000 fans before being replaced by Chris Iwelumo in a like-for-like swap. Lightbourne had impressed that season under Icelandic manager Gudjon Thordarson and scored 10 goals in 52 appearances as the Potters reached the league playoffs where they were beaten by Gillingham.

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While Goater and Lightbourne both enjoyed positive results at Wembley and helped put Bermuda on the map, neither could find the back of the net when they played there. In May 2013, Nahki Wells went down in Bermudian football history when he scored for Bradford City in their 3-0 win over Northampton Town in the Football League Two playoff final.

It was a simple finish in the end as Wells anticipated the direction of Garry Thompson’s header and made sure he was in the right position to connect. The Bermudian people could now proudly say that one of their own had scored at Wembley.

This was not his first appearance at the stadium, though. Only three months earlier, Wells had played there when Bradford took on Swansea City in the League Cup final. He was a very big part of Bradford’s ascent to the final as he scored in the semi-final first leg against Aston Villa and deservedly picked up plenty of plaudits for his display against Arsenal in the quarter-final.

His cheeky nutmeg between Thomas Vermaelen’s legs was a particularly memorable moment from that match. Bradford suffered a comprehensive 5-0 defeat in the final to Swansea with Wells managing 58 minutes before being substituted off for Jon McLaughlin.

Now the 26-year-old is preparing to play at Wembley for a third time in four years when Huddersfield meet Reading on Monday. He’s been an ever-present figure in his team’s attack this season and confidently dispatched his penalty in the semi-final second leg shoot-out against Sheffield Wednesday.

Whatever happens, you can bet your bottom dollar that the whole of Bermuda will be right behind Wells as he looks to earn promotion to the Premier League, a division that he’s never played in before. It would be brilliant to see him in the top-flight and in my opinion, he’s more than capable of performing at that level.

Meanwhile, there have been several Bermudians in the past to have travelled to Wembley but never actually got on the pitch.

Bermuda’s first professional player and perhaps the best defender to have ever come from the island, Arnold Woollard, contributed to Newcastle United’s FA Cup victory in 1955, although he never got the chance to play in the final versus Manchester City at Wembley. That was due to an eye injury which ruled him out of action for eight weeks.

Clyde Best was a spectator at Wembley when West Ham United lifted the 1975 FA Cup after beating Fulham 2-0. A remarkable 100,000 people attended that game, which came at the tail end of Best’s West Ham career. A year after the club’s FA Cup triumph, he moved across the pond to play in the North American Soccer League. He earned legendary status at the Hammers and was one of the first black players to play in British football.

The goalkeeper Freddy Hall was an unused substitute for Burton Albion in their Football League Two playoff final defeat to Fleetwood Town in 2014. “It was definitely a nice experience and Wembley is a great stadium,” said Hall after the game. “I think hands down it is one of the best stadiums, unbelievable.”

Fellow goalkeeper Dale Eve was a part of the Forest Green Rovers squad that competed in the National League playoff final last year. Although he wasn’t named in the matchday squad for the final, he did go on an official ‘familiarisation visit’ to Wembley a week before so got the opportunity to take in the impressive surroundings. Forest Green lost the tie to Grimsby Town, 3-1.

- Sports journalist Nathan Carr is the founder of The Home of Caribbean Football website, and reports on football throughout the region, and also serves as a guest contributor to Bernews. You can read his past reports on Bermudian football here.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Antlee says:

    Best of luck to you Nakhi!

  2. swing voter says:

    City 4 Life….but now I’ll also be an undercover HT fan ;-)

  3. Double S says:

    Well done Wellsy and Huddersfield!

  4. Mary says:

    Bermuda Arsenal fans can support a new real team now lol

  5. puzzled says:

    Sad they don’t support local soccer with such ..

    • I heart 441 says:

      Yup you are right, we support local football instead!
      Well done Huddersfield & Wells!=

    • PBanks says:

      You can’t fault the local population for having reservations on the local game what with the myriad of issues here.

      Can the BFA and local clubs use this moment to try and bolster support for the sport? Absolutely, but there’s a lot they have to do in tandem.

  6. Coffee says:

    Excellent job Mr.Wells ! A well deserved win and promotion !

    70,000 fans at Wembly ! Millions of veiwers worldwide !

    If only we could get those numbers for our expensive sailboat race !

  7. Coffee says:

    *viewers*

  8. Ringmaster says:

    @ Coffee. America’s Cup is an event that has been taking place in various forms, and benefits to Bermuda, for over 1 1/2 years. Teams have relocated here spending money and infrastructure has been built using Bermudians. The costs are not for a five week event. There are those who will try and say only X numbers of tickets were sold so it was a flop. That is a small part of the entire event, but that won’t fit the political spin from the PLP. The crowds at the opening ceremony were diverse, just like those watching from boats. The vendors making the most of AC are Bermudians, but you need to want to be a winner, just like Ashley and her lemonade. Emancipate yourself and get ahead.

    • swing voter says:

      oh boy …..always expect a lecture in response to stupid. why bother responding to a troll?

      • wahoo says:

        The troll provides the opening to give a lesson in economics to the uninformed. The troll therefore has a purpose. Thank you Troll.

        Well done Nahki and Co.