Grayson sitting on the fence as Cobblers and Robins square up

TORN BETWEEN TWO FORMER CLUBS - Neil Grayson
TORN BETWEEN TWO FORMER CLUBS - Neil Grayson
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Former Cobblers and Cheltenham favourite Neil Grayson admits he is gutted the two teams will be meeting in the play-offs.

In what is perhaps the ultimate case of mixed emotions, Grayson says he will be experience both a massive high and a massive low when the result of the two legs is known.

The forward, who will not be able to attend Thursday’s game (incredibly because he has a game for Heanor Town, at the ripe old age of 48), played in play-off finals for both clubs during his career.

He is pretty much a legend at Whaddon Road, claiming the non-League player of the year award in 1998/99 too, and finishing as the Robins’ top scorer for three years running.

He was also part of the team that won the Conference title in 1999 and also the one promoted via the league two play-offs in 2002.

Coincidentally, that Millennium Stadium final was his last appearance for Cheltenham, just as the 1997 play-off final at Wembley was his final outing for the Cobblers.

And despite the events being more than a decade in the past, the emotional attachment to both clubs is as strong as ever.

“I’m a bit gutted really,” he said. “I was hoping one of the teams would go up automatically and one through the play-offs.

“I suppose the only good thing about them playing each other in the semi-finals is that at least one of them will be in the final.

“Ideally they’d have played each other in the final.”

Don’t expect to hear any predictions from Grayson, who hopes to attend the second leg at Whaddon Road, however.

He’s far too diplomatic for such things.

“I’ve had loads of people asking me on Twitter and putting pressure on me to make a prediction but I’m sitting firmly on the fence,” he said.

“One team is going to go through and I’ll be delighted for them but I’ll be absolutely gutted for the team that goes out.

“It’ll be a massive high and a massive low for me, both at the same time.”

The 1997 play-off final did not compare to the semi-finals that preceded it in terms of excitement, but its finish was off the charts in terms of drama.

Grayson feels that in such tight, high-stakes contest a mistake or moment of magic will generally provide the difference.

“I won both play-off finals I had with both clubs,” he said.

“The one in 1997 was a bit of a stalemate, Woody (Andy Woodman) pulled off a couple of saves and it was a bit of an arm-wrestle.

“They are all or nothing games. You’ve just got to go into them doing the things you have been doing all season and hope that a bit of luck or a bit of brilliance is the difference.”