If you've been a fan of Reading for more than six years, you already know the taste of play-off failure. If like myself, you've had the
misfortune to be a fan for 22 years or more, you've sat through no fewer than five painful play-off disappointments, that have left hearing the names Bolton, Walsall, Wolves, Burnley and Swansea forever generate a shiver of pain and discomfort.
We'll delve into our own miserable experiences over the next few weeks but Reading aren't alone in their play-off woes, as Sheffield United fans will quickly attest. They've watched their team strike out SEVEN times in the promotion play-off lottery and once when it was a promotion/relegation decider (no wonder they were so happy to win League One this year...). Likewise, our neighbours down the M4 at Brentford have also had to endure nothing but heartache, also sitting through eight dismal play-off campaigns without winning the big one.
So, we're by no means the worst but how do our potential opponents this season compare?
Play-off success rate: 0%
Failures: 1988/89, 1997/98
This will be Fulham's first tilt at the play-offs in 19 years, dating back to a campaign that saw Micky Adams, Ray Wilkins and Kevin Keegan all take time in charge at Craven Cottage. That was the season which saw Mohammed Al Fayed buy the club and transform them into a Premier League side, a status they held from 2001 up to 2014.
Before that, the Cottagers only other appearance came in 1988/89, the first time they had been an all-promotion affair. That year saw then third tier Fulham over to Grimsby.
Play-off success rate: 37.5%
Successes: 1994/95, 2003/04, 2011/12
Failures: 1991/92, 2001/02, 2005/06, 2009/10, 2010/11
Huddersfield are certified play-off veterans, with eight appearances over the past 26 years and three final victories to celebrate. The most recent came five years ago, when a team containing Reading loanee Sean Morrison beat Sheffield United on penalties to earn the Championship spot they occupy today. A win at Cardiff in 2004, one at the old Wembley in 1995 and 2012's triumph at the new National Stadium means that their fans have tasted success in all three major venues to have hosted the season defining game.
Yet if they have a weakness it's that Huddersfield have never been in a second tier play-off campaign, something that might just explain the seeming nerves that have crept in around the club in recent weeks.
Play-off success rate: 50%
In contrast to Fulham and Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday do know all about the pain of the Championship play-offs. Last season saw Wednesday fall short after finishing in the top six, as they lost in the play-off final to Hull. Whether that failure will inspire or generate nerves amongst the players and fans remains to be seen but as far as we're concerned, I hope they lay awake thinking about it 24/7...
Yet the Owls have shown they can win the big one. In 2004/05 they bested Hartlepool 4-2 after extra time in Cardiff to escape League One.
So we may be scarred as a fanbase but each of our potential opponents have bagged of their own to take into this lottery. Whether it's the recent failures of Wednesday, the inexperience of Fulham, or the lack of Championship pressure Huddersfield have been under, we shouldn't let our own painful memories dominate the narrative. Each fanbase and set of players will have reasons of their own to be nervy, so let's just hope we can end this streak and finally win the big one ourselves.