May 26, 2013 11:59
Ian Holloway, Crystal Palace
Watford v Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium, London - Championship Play Offs Final
Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway celebrated with Kagisho Dikgacoi and Mile Jedinak after winning the npower Championship play off semi final second leg between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace at Amex Stadium on May 13, 2013 in Brighton, England.
Holloway will lead his side for the third time in four seasons in football’s richest match at Wembley Stadium.
Ian's father, Bill Holloway died 25 years ago, before Ian became such a prestigious fixture of English football.
Ian played for Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool prior to becoming Crystal Palace boss.
“It is a quite exceptional place. Nothing gets to you quite as bad as that," said Holloway about Wembley. "My dad is the first person I’ll think about when I stand there again because he isn’t here and he never saw it. And I can’t tell you how that feels. But I just hope he knows wherever he is ”
His words tail off as the emotion takes hold and you are reminded that beneath the public image of ‘Ollie’ the wisecracking character is a fighter who nursed his wife Kim through cancer and brought up three daughters who were born deaf. Family remains everything to Holloway.
“I’m 50 years old. I had him for 25 years of my life and I’ve had 25 without him,” he said. “And anybody who’s lost one of their parents will know exactly what I’m talking about.
"I hope you’ve got yours and that you don’t experience what I’m on about but you will one day and it’s just hideous.”
“I was failing at Brentford and he said: ‘You better come home and pack in.’ Everybody who goes to Wembley with a Palace shirt — and same for Watford – will be emotional.
"You’ll never forget it if you can succeed there but my emotion is what it would have meant to my dad, what it means to me now and to the rest of my family.
“My daughter baked me a cake and it’s blue and red and it’s just fantastic. That’s what the club means to her and we’ve only been here six months.”
Holloway took over his job from Dougie Freedman in November.
“Just enjoy it. That’s the most important thing.” Holloway said about the upcoming clash and football in general. “Because if you don’t enjoy what you do, then you ain’t very good at it.”
Watford v Crystal Palace Tickets for Monday's Championship Play Off Final match at Wembley Stadium, London are still available.