Leeds loanee Alfie McCalmont was a key figure in the double-header of fixtures against Bradford that saw the Blues safely through to the weekend’s Wembley final against Stockport, so it’s little surprise that he was intent on enjoying the celebrations come the final whistle on Saturday.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “Getting to Wembley is something that doesn’t come around often, and it’s something we’ve worked hard for.
“We’ve talked about it as a team, and it was something I thought about when signing here, because obviously the aim was to get promoted. To be going to Wembley is even more special so I’m over the moon, and we’ve just got a big job to do on Sunday now.
“Like I say, when I signed here that’s where the club was at, in a good position to get promoted, and obviously to see that out from January and for it still to be going, with the position we’re in now, is credit to the players and all the staff.
“We know we’ve got a big week of training ahead and that we need to prepare ourselves in the best way that we can so that come Sunday we’re ready.”
The last two, along with the next one, have all been about handling the big stage under the lights and cameras, and with external pressures notched up a gear or three.
“It has been different, but it’s what you want,” he insisted. “You get a little bit nervous, that happens before every game, but it’s more excitement than anything else.
“These games are massive, and in your career they don’t come around often, but going to play at Wembley I’m not even sure I’ll be nervous, I’m going there to soak up the atmosphere and to enjoy every minute of it. I’m sure all the other lads will as well.
“There is the other side of it, we’ve got a job to do. All of the fans are going to be there supporting us so it’s a job to do for them as well. We saw them all at the end of the game on Saturday and we know it means the world to them. To be able to repay them for the support they’ve given us this season would be massive.
“The big thing is that everyone has shown they can handle it. Even after the first game we were all feeling positive. The gaffer spoke to us after the away game on the pitch and he told us that even though we were a goal behind it gave us that extra motivation to go straight at it for the second game.
“I thought we played brilliantly, they didn’t really have a sniff. I thought we controlled the game and I felt they seemed more confident than they should have been going into the second game. We turned up from the first game again and we really surprised them.”
On his own role, which has given him the freedom to patrol the middle third, he told us: “I just want to try and get up and support the two strikers up front.
“It can be hard because we have a back five and they can be isolated at times, so we have to try and get up the pitch so that we can give the strikers as much support as we can, so that it makes it a bit easier for them.
“It’s mostly about doing a job for the team, working hard, and putting myself about so that I’m helping everyone as much as I can. I enjoy doing that.
“As a team we’ve all worked hard and it’s brought us to this final game. It’s massive for the town and for the club. We’ve worked hard all season for this opportunity and I’m sure everyone is going to be ready for it and they’re going to give it everything they’ve got for this last game.”
Can you even begin to imagine what it will be like to win the game, and to take the walk up to the Royal Box, or is that getting to far ahead of ourselves?
“I haven’t thought about that yet,” he told us. “Obviously it would be an amazing feeling. We all know how good it will feel and how good the celebrations are going to be.
“We had a taste of it last Saturday and just imagine that with a trophy and the promotion, it would just be something really special.
“Like I say, it’s what you work hard for through your whole career, for days like that. I’m going to give it my all and I’m sure everyone else will as well. Hopefully come the end of the game we’ll have enjoyed good celebrations.”
“But going there is huge, it’s all a bit surreal,” he continued. “I was speaking to my mum and dad after the Saturday game, and you work hard your whole career for days like this.
“They’ll enjoy it for me, I’ll enjoy it, and hopefully I’ll soak it all in and there’ll be good celebrations followed by a good summer.
“I know everyone is saying the same, we have a job to do. Getting to Wembley and not giving it our all and falling short would be horrible. We’re going to make sure that we’re training well this week and that we’re all on the same page. That’s how we get ready for Sunday.
“Stockport are a good side and they’ll be thinking the same. I think we have the edge just because of the belief we have in the team.
“After the first game at Bradford people could have written us off, and I do think Bradford wrote us off thinking they were going to breeze by. That’s just not us. We’ve got a good group of lads who are determined to get the job done and I think that’s going to see us over the line.”
Having been an integral part of the squad since his January arrival, we wondered what this latest loan move had done for him and his confidence.
“It’s been with a team that’s striving for something, and we’ve still got something to play for,” he said. “It gives you extra motivation and you’re not just going through the motions.
“You can see playing in front of the crowds we get, it’s one of the best clubs I’ve played with. We get big numbers, so to play for a club like this is good. We’ve got one more game to go and then that would really be the icing on the cake for me if we finish it off with a promotion.
“Fans can sometimes say that loan players don’t care, but that’s definitely not the case with me. I love being here, and I have since I came in.
“It’s been a really enjoyable place to work every day and the changing room is one of the best I’ve been in. My aim was to get promoted, from seeing where we were in January and we’re literally one game away from doing that, so it would be a dream come true.”