HULL 1 WENDIES 0     In a game which will live long in the memory of your average goldfish, Hull City dragged their way back into the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. After Derby showed how to terrify Hull in their second semi-final leg - in short, attack them relentlessly like a man beating a fat horse with a thin stick - Wendies got it all wrong by hardly attacking them at all. All Wendies brought to the game were their fans, who were magnificent. Hull, on the other hand, couldn't even muster a sell-out, but managed to score one goal from a dozen good chances and almost threw it away at the end. It was not a great game, not even all that exciting, suffering from what Steve Cabbage insisted on calling "a malay". We think he meant "malaise", but "malay" is much more interesting.

HULL 0 DERBY 2     To be fair, don't you just hate it when a sentence begins with "to be fair"? To be fair, broccoli is a very healthy food choice. To be fair, Jeremy Hunt has the best interests of patients at heart. To be fair, the Daily Express does generate lively debate on the things that matter to people. Anyway, to be fair, these two legs provided five skanky goals and two of the worst home performances ever seen in the play-offs. To be fair, despite Hull's ineptitude and Derby's promising first half, they ran out of ideas, legs and luck long before the closing stages. To be fair, bringing on Mince and, later, Bent, signalled the kind of desperation money can or can't buy. To be fair, Derby simply found another way to blow their play-off chances, which is the best definition of "the Derby way" we can come up with.

HOVE 1 WENDIES 1     Wendies progressed to the play-off final in resolute style after surviving an early onslaught from Hove. The reasons Hove blew it were twofold: (1) They could only manage one goal from the 65,483 chances they created in the first half, and (2) their team appeared to be made up of members of a Trumpton Firehouse Tribute Band: Skalag, Kayal, Bong, Greer, Knockout, Bruno and Dunk. This observation will only make sense to people of a certain age.

DERBY 0 HULL 3     Derby's latest play-off cock up would have been hilarious if the whole thing hadn't become so boring. The synthetic fervour of the IPro stadium lasted about five minutes before dwindling into the familiar burble of dissatisfaction. Hull's first goal stunned the home side, the second buckled their knees, the third snapped all fifty two of their sphincters. Derby head coach Darren Wassail said: "We've got two choices - we can either throw the towel in now, which is not what we're going to do, or we can regroup, show some character and resilience, dust ourselves down and get badly beaten again on Tuesday."

WENDIES 2 HOVE 0     After failing to grab an automatic place against Miserablebugger, Hove's season crumbled further as they conceded two goals to a resurgent Wendies side which scored twice in this two-nil home defeat of crumbling Hove who lost by two goals. Hove decided to save up a season's worth of injuries for this one match, which didn't help. Ex-Wendies player Chris Woggle, however, warned that the tie wasn't over. "I just hope they don't regret killing this game by three or four," he said. Really, Chris? How about putting a not in there somewhere to make it, you know, sensible? And how about learning to not say pelanty? It's penalty. Anyway, Hove have some kind of chance at Hove if they can scrape a team together. Nucular's another one. It's nuclear. Say new, then say clear. It's easy. Nuclear.


We've been away in the wilderness for a week, and return to find Forest still wandering through a wilderness of their own. Apparently the sun will break through on Wednesday, which is something to do with the Financial Solstice or something, and we'll all wake up to a shiny new club with a shiny new set up. Until then we must patiently brush up on our agendas and prepare to rip the bejeesus out of whatever we are presented with.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.