Continuing our series of guest articles, On The Ponty End has been speaking to supporters of the clubs making an appearance in the Championship this year - either as a result of promotion or relegation last season.

Our aim is to provide you with just a small insight in to the expectations and inside track on the fresh opposition that Barnsley FC will face this season. With that in mind, we hope we succeed.

We're delighted to introduce our readers to Southampton FC Fan Chris Rann from the excellent blog George Weah's Cousin

You can also follow Chris on Twitter: @crstig

Sunday, 15th May 2005. Southampton 1 Manchester United 2. Southampton were relegated to the Championship. I was devastated. The thought of my club being in the second tier was alien to me. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We had been in the top flight, my entire life. Little did I know, this was only the beginning …

Saturday, 7th May 2011. Southampton 3 Wallsall 1. Southampton were promoted to the Championship. I was elated. To have escaped the third tier was such a massive relief. Finally back on the up, hopefully this was just the beginning …

What a difference a few years make, the turnaround from club in the doldrums to club in the ascendancy has been emotional, traumatic and at times terrifying, but so worth it. I think sometimes you have to reach your lowest ebb to appreciate what you have again. When Saints dropped out of the Championship in the summer of 2009, we were in administration and seemingly had a very bleak future, for a fan this is the worst possible place to be. You are almost helpless and your love for football and your club is extremely tested.

Then we were saved. Markus Liebherr and Nicola Cortese came and bought the club and invested in the playing squad. We defied the points penalty and just missed out on a playoff place. Saints fans were buzzing again. Attendances began to grow and the misery of recent years started to fade. A Johnstones Paint trophy win at Wembley was the icing on the cake and the suddenly we had a future again. Last season we secured automatic promotion in style, recovering from a terrible yet typical start to storm to second place and now we had belief. We expected to win games, not a familiar feeling.

So here we are again. The Championship, yet this time we come fuelled by optimism and ambition.

We have a good squad, most of our players won’t look out of place at this level and based on last season, I think we are already better equipped than a lot of the bottom half sides. With some good summer business being done by the manager and the chairman, I think we will comfortably be a top half team come May.

I don’t think we will be in the promotion shake up, or a relegation battle. This is a tough division, but I think we will give ourselves a decent platform to go into the following season on. There will be something almost comforting about the warm bosom of mid-table mediocrity…

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Ian Wilkinson

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