1997 Football League Third Division play-off Final

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1997 Football League Third Division play-off Final
Old Wembley Stadium (external view).jpg
Date 24 May 1997
Venue Wembley Stadium, London
Referee Terry Heilbron (Durham)
Attendance 46,804

The 1997 Football League Third Division play-off final was a football match played at Wembley Stadium on 24 May 1997, to determine the fourth and final team to gain promotion from the Third Division to the Second Division of The Football League in the 1996–97 season. It was contested by Northampton Town, who had finished fourth during the league season, and Swansea City, who had finished fifth. The teams reached the final by defeating Cardiff City and Chester City respectively in the two-legged semi-finals.

With the game heading for extra time, John Frain stepped up to score a retaken free kick past the Swansea City goalkeeper Roger Freestone in the third minute of stoppage time.[1]

Route to the final[edit]

Northampton Town finished the season in fourth place in the Third Division table with 72 points, fourteen points short of the automatic promotion places.[2] In the play-off semi-final they faced seventh placed Cardiff City, with the first leg away at Ninian Park on 11 May 1997 finishing 1–0 to Northampton.[3] In the second match at Sixfields Stadium three days later, John Gayle scored the winning goal as Northampton won 3–2 to reach the final.[4]

Swansea City finished the season in fifth place; one place and one point behind Northampton.[2] Swansea faced sixth placed Chester City in the play-off semi-final, who they played away from home at the Deva Stadium in the first leg, and drew 0–0.[5] Their progression to the final was confirmed with a 3–0 victory at the Vetch Field, which ended the tie with an aggregate score of 3–0.[6]

Match details[edit]

24 May 1997
15:00 BST
Northampton Town England 1-0 Wales Swansea City
Frain Goal 90' Report
Wembley, London
Attendance: 46,804
Referee: Terry Heilbron
Northampton Town
Swansea City
Northampton Town:
GK 1 England Andy Woodman
DF 2 England Ian Clarkson
DF 5 England Ray Warburton
DF 4 England Ian Sampson
DF 3 England John Frain
MF 6 Scotland David Rennie Substituted off 40'
MF 7 Wales Sean Parrish
MF 11 England Roy Hunter
FW 9 England John Gayle Substituted off 76'
FW 8 England Neil Grayson
FW 10 England Christian Lee
MF 27 England Dean Peer Substituted in 40'
MF 14 England Ali Gibb
FW 12 England Jason White Substituted in 76'
England Ian Atkins
Swansea City:
GK 1 Wales Roger Freestone
DF 8 England Dave Penney
DF 5 Wales Christian Edwards
DF 4 Scotland Keith Walker
DF 3 Portugal Joao Moreira
MF 6 Republic of Ireland Kwame Ampadu
MF 10 Denmark Jan Mølby
MF 11 Wales Jonathan Coates
FW 9 England Steve Torpey
FW 7 England Carl Heggs
FW 2 Wales Dai Thomas Substituted off 83'
FW 12 England Linton Brown Substituted in 83'
MF 15 Wales Shaun Chapple
DF 14 Republic of Ireland Ryan Casey
Denmark Jan Mølby


  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shootout if scores still level.
  • 5 named substitutes.
  • Maximum of 3 substitutions.


  1. ^ Fox, Norman. Swansea run over by Frain The Independent. 1997-05-25. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
  2. ^ a b "Final 1996/1997 Football League Two Table". Soccerbase. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Cardiff 0 - 1 Northampton". Soccerbase. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Northampton 3 - 2 Cardiff". Soccerbase. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Chester 0 - 0 Swansea". Soccerbase. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Swansea 3 - 0 Chester". Soccerbase. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 

External links[edit]