|Hercules fans celebrate at a packed Rico Perez|
A brave effort or not by Rayo Vallecano, the delirious local support cared not, a crucial 2-1 victory ensured promotion was still within reach, and, crucially was in their own hands, depending solely on a Hercules win in their final match away to lowly Real Union. Elsewhere on the second last match day of the season, Real Sociedad secured the Segunda A title with a routine two nil home win over Celta Vigo and the only two teams still in with a shout of overtaking Hercules enjoyed mixed fortunes. Levante cruised past already relegated Castellon and Real Betis could only manage a 1-1 draw away at mid table Salamanca, two wasted points which were to prove vital to both Levante and Hercules.
Three weeks into June and a week after the start of The World Cup the season eventually came to a thrilling conclusion and the permutation was simple, two promotion places remained and three clubs were in contention Hercules started game day 42 in second place closely followed by Levante and then Real Betis.
I'm not certain how the fixture computer manages to do it every time, but way back in August 2009 guess which two teams were drawn to play each other in the final games of the season? In the end, Real Betis hammered Levante 4-0 at home and their whole season hinged on the relegated Real Union and Hercules result from the northern city of Irun.
A 0-2 win for Hercules at the smallest ground in the league, watched by four hundred travelling supporters ensured the Alicantinos headed home happy and Real Betis, despite finishing on the same number of points as both Levante and Hercules, finished fourth. Tough on the men from Seville but here's some interesting statistics, the head to head records of the three protagonists
Betis 1 - 1 Hercules Levante 2 - 1 Hercules Betis 4 - 0 Levante
Hercules 3 - 2 Betis Hercules 2- 1 Levante Levante 1 - 0 Betis
Points Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
1 REAL SOCIEDAD 74 42 20 14 8 53 37
2 HERCULES 71 42 19 14 9 61 34
3 LEVANTE 71 42 19 14 9 63 45
The final table looked like this, and, after a nine year gap to their previous adventure in Spanish football's top division, Hercules were back. Or were they? TO BE CONTINUED