Bristol City: The Meteoric Rise to the Playoff Final

Edward QuinnCorrespondent IMay 14, 2008

Bristol City finished second in the English League One to secure promotion to the Championship for 2007-2008.

A year later, they are one game away from securing a second promotion, to the Premiership, after winning the playoff semi-final against Crystal Palace.

It all started in summer 2007. 

In the summer between City's promotion and the start of the Championship season, Gary Johnson made a number of signings. This included the capture of Swansea City's star player, Lee Trundle for a fee of £1 million.

In addition, pacy winger Ivan Sproule was bought from Hibs, Marvin Elliott signed on a Bosman ruling after leaving Millwall, Darren Byfield signed also from Millwall, and Stephen Henderson arrived from Aston Villa.

Michael McIndoe was also bought from Wolves, reuniting him with his former boss at Yeovil, Gary Johnson.

City had a good start to the season, briefly topping the table after their fourth game (a 0-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday) and again later after beating Championship leaders Coventry City 3-0 at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.

They were narrowly beaten by Sven Goran Eriksson's resurgent Manchester City in the League Cup.

On September 6, 2007, Gary Johnson and assistant Keith Millen signed new contracts, keeping them at the club until 2010.

Since then, City have gone from strength to strength, winning against recent Premiership clubs Sheffield United, Norwich City, and a Stoke City side managed by former City boss Tony Pulis. 

Reaching the dizzying heights of second place and starting talk of a second successive promotion that would take them to the Premier League.

A run of poor form began in November with just two points from a possible 15, including a 6-0 thrashing away to Ipswich Town. A poor November was followed by a good start to December.

A dramatic 94th minute winner by Darren Byfield got city a first win in five away to table toppers Watford, televised live on Sky Sports.

Revenge came against Ipswich Town four days later as City beat them, 2-0, at home and gave them a huge boost in the table once again.

A draw away to West Country rivals Plymouth Argyle followed, leaving them fifth in the table and unbeaten in December. City then beat fierce rivals Cardiff City 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

The Christmas period started off well with a 3-2 win over Barnsley at Ashton Gate. On Boxing Day, the Robins traveled to the Hawthorns to play the league leaders West Brom but they were outplayed. 

Although the Baggies were held in the first half, the game ended 4-1 to the Baggies. Two more wins against Burnley (1-0) and Coventry City (2-1) put City level in third place, level on points with West Brom and Watford with 47 each.

After a draw against a dangerous looking Colchester United side, City lost by two goals to nil against Crystal Palace before a Marvin Elliott strike gave City a much needed win against Blackpool.

By late February 2008, City were second in the Championship, after scoring in the final minute to gain a 1-1 draw in a televised game against Crystal Palace and coming from behind to beat struggling Colchester United 2-1.

On March 1, 2008, City beat Hull City 2-1 at Ashton Gate to top the division, two points clear of second-placed Stoke City. On March 4, Bristol City came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Charlton Athletic.

They went back to the top of the league after a 2-1 win over Norwich City at Ashton Gate. The winner came three minutes into injury time from Steve Brooker, in his first home game of the season after struggling with a knee injury.

However, after a poor run of form through March and April, City found automatic promotion slipping out of reach.

After a 2-1 loss at Sheffield United, it was confirmed that automatic promotion was mathematically impossible, whilst other results around the country confirmed that they would definitely be appearing in the play-offs.

On May 4, 2008, a 3-0 home win against Preston North End on the final day of the league season ensured a playoff place and a semi-final fixture against Crystal Palace.

On May 13, 2008, City confirmed their trip to Wembley with a 4-2 aggregate win over Crystal Palace with goals from Lee Trundle & Michael McIndoe.  They will play Hull City, who are touted as the better team according to betting parlours

As my native city team, I am very excited by the prospect of having a Premier League team, if we can get through.

I'd love it if I could go to a Bristol City vs. Manchester United game (my native team versus my favorite team). Come on City!!!