By Tony Leighton
Best mates John McGrath and Ricky Ravenhill will go head-to-head in the npower League 2 Play-Off semi-finals when Burton Albion take on Bradford City.
Burton's club captain McGrath and fellow midfielder Ravenhill were together at Doncaster Rovers for two years and have remained close friends ever since.
But friendship will not enter the equation, insists McGrath, in either Thursday's first leg of the semi at Valley Parade or in Sunday's return at the Pirelli Stadium.
"We've already had some banter about the semi-final," McGrath told football-league.co.uk, "with both of us bigging our own team's chances.
"My family went round to Ricky's house on Saturday night and we had a right good natter about the season and how it might end for us.
"Ricky's my best mate - I'm his daughter Laila's Godfather, our wives are best friends as well and so are our two young boys.
"Ricky and I both still live in the Doncaster area and we coach the club's Academy Under-10 team, which both of our lads play for.
"So we're all very close, but friendship will be put aside on Thursday and on Sunday because we're both desperate to help our team get to Wembley."
McGrath is counting his lucky stars for getting the chance to pursue a Wembley final after being recalled to Burton from a loan spell at York City last week.
He was brought in from the cold after midfield colleagues Lee Bell and Jack Dyer were ruled out of the Play-Offs, Bell through suspension and Dyer due to injury.
That meant McGrath, a first-team regular until this term, made his first Burton start of the season in Saturday's final match of the League 2 campaign.
And after a 3-2 win against champions Gillingham confirmed Burton's fourth-place finish, he is determined to retain his place in the starting line-up.
The 33-year-old Irishman said: "It's been an incredible turnaround for me in this last week after what's happened this season.
"A few weeks ago I was in the bottom two with York, now I've finished fourth and I'm two games away from a Wembley Play-Off final - it's a dream.
"I'd actually resigned myself to my season being over because I hadn't played for York for five weeks before coming back to Burton.
"So I was a bit rusty and it took me 20 minutes or so to get into the game against Gillingham, but by the end I was feeling good.
"Since then I've celebrated the fact that York have stayed up, I'm delighted for them because they're a great bunch of lads, and now I want to help us to go up.
"I love this club and I want to contribute majorly, so I want to play in both legs of the semi-final and then be in the starting XI that walks out at Wembley."
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