Popular defender Jon Mellish has possibly been the most frustrated person in the building this last few weeks after a red card against Salford at the end of April ruled him out of the final scheduled fixture at Sutton and the play-off semi-final home and away legs against Bradford.
“It’s been horrible,” he admitted. “I just couldn’t believe getting the red card when I did. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve had.
“I don’t really get nervous for games but watching the first two on the telly and then being here for Saturday, I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous.
“I couldn’t sit still watching them, but seeing the way the lads went about it and how they got the job done was incredible, and I loved watching them do it, to be fair.”
On the incident that brought the sending off, he confirmed that the uppermost thought in his mind was ‘what have I done’ as soon as the referee reached for his pocket.
“That’s what I thought straight away,” he revealed. “I saw it coming out and at the time you can’t even believe it’s a red card. Obviously I did push him, but I knew I didn’t catch him in the face, so when it’s a red everything goes through your head straight away.
“With the play-offs ahead you start to think your season’s done, so it was horrible. I didn’t know what to do with myself, and that’s why I put my top straight over my head because I didn’t know who to look at, or what to do or say.
“It happened and thankfully I’ve got through it and the lads have got us to Wembley. Hopefully I’ll get another chance because the season isn’t done yet.”
Coming next is that trip to Wembley for the big final against the Hatters.
“I can’t wait, it’s a great feeling,” he told us. “When the final whistle went on Saturday and the celebrations started, and we knew we were going to Wembley, it was just an amazing feeling.
“It’s something we know we won’t forget and it’s actually just the start of it now. Saturday has happened and this is now going to be a nice week for everyone. The team will be down there together and hopefully we’ll get out there and get the job done.
“And it’s been really good to have played a part. I’ve played nearly every game, obviously apart from the last few, which were probably the most important ones. It’s nice to have done my bit, hopefully I’ve played a big part, and I’ll be looking to do that again on Sunday and we can see what happens from there.”
Importantly some of the best football of the season is being played by a team that looks to be brimming with confidence.
“The form is definitely back,” he agreed. “The way the lads have played over the last two games, even when they lost in the fist leg, they played really well, got their heads down and made sure they were ready for the home leg.
“I think we believed straight away that we were going to win that game, and that’s what we did. I don’t really think they got a sniff all game and that’s credit to the lads that they got it done in the way they did.
“I think even though we’ve had blips at times, I don’t think anyone thought we’d ever drop out of it. We always believed we’d still be in it, and we actually always thought about the top three, so we were gutted not to get that automatic place.
“We’ve gone this way to do it and we’re enjoying every bit of it. There’s a lot of belief and we’re very confident going into Saturday.
“It’s on the biggest stage where some of the biggest games have been played, and if we can get it done it will have been some day for everyone. I know everyone will enjoy it, whatever happens, but we’re fully focused on it and we feel we can do it.”
As he hinted at there, the ultimate prize is the step up to League One.
“That’s the main thing and it’s all anyone cares about at the moment,” he said. “We could potentially be in League One next season, and after where we were last season, since the gaffer came in, it would be incredible to think we can get there.
“Even if we do go up it wouldn’t just be a case of trying to stay in that league, it’ll be the same mindset again. We’ll want to do as well as we can.
“That’s what being here for me has been about. I think it’ll be four years here, coming towards my fifth season, and that’s mad when you think about it.
“I was looking on my phone the other day and I think I signed on that day four years ago, and it’s part of my life now. We’ve had a lot of downs, but thankfully it’s ups now, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.
“This has been my favourite season so far, I’ve loved playing with all the lads and working with the coaches, and I’ve met a lot of people along the way. Carlisle is probably part of me now, and I think it always will be because I’ve really enjoyed it.”
The absence of Ben Barclay, ruled out due to the loan terms with his parent club, means that there’s a defensive shirt up for grabs.
“It would be nice to play and come back in, but I am really gutted for Ben,” he revealed. “He’s such a nice person and he probably deserves to play, especially with him getting the goal that did it for us. Hopefully we can do it for him on Sunday.
“I have thought about going there but I can’t actually imagine what it’s going to be like. I keep trying, but I can’t do it. I’ve been there a couple of times to watch Sunderland so I have that slight feeling, but to walk out there yourself, for your club, it’s going to be crazy.
“Looking up and seeing your friends and family, I know I’ll see my son up there, I can’t even imagine yet what that’s going to feel like.”
“All of my family are obviously very proud,” he continued. “So much so that I have to remind them to calm down on occasions because sometimes it gets a bit annoying.
“I tell me mam sometimes to stop it, and give it a rest, but they all love it. They come to every single home game, and even to as many away games as they can - they’ve been to a good handful of them.
“They just love coming, they love the place as well, so it’ll be nice for them to come to Wembley, and hopefully it’ll make the summer good as well because of the end result.”
He must have visualised setting off on one of his trademark runs on that famous turf, surely!
“I hope I get to do one,” he joked. “I’ve been thinking about that big pitch and it’s a bit of a dream for me. I’ll try and cover as much of it as I can and see what happens. I’m really looking forward to it.
“The fact is that there’s a job to do, and we’re fully focused on it. Nobody has got carried away because we all know what we’re going there for. It’s not just a day out, it’s to win it.
“At the end of the day to get that promotion is what we set out to do. Since way back at Largs in pre-season it’s all we’ve talked about and what we’ve wanted. Sunday is our chance to finally do that.
“We’re not taking anything for granted, we know they’re a good side. We probably let ourselves down in the first game when we played them. We didn’t match them, and I think they were probably better than us.
“I think that was good in a sense because we were ready for them the second time. We were probably the better team in that second game and we were unlucky not to win. We know what to expect from them, they will from us too, so it’s exciting to see what will happen.”