Tears flowed as Cardiff City reached the English top flight for the first time in the Premier League era following a 0-0 draw at home to Charlton Athletic in the Championship on Tuesday.
The result guaranteed their return to the elite after a 51-year absence and prompted delirious fans to spill onto the pitch to celebrate at Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff will join fellow Welsh side and sworn rivals Swansea City in the Premier League next season, marking the first time that there will be two teams from Wales in the English top flight.
Cardiff forward Craig Bellamy, formerly of Liverpool and Manchester City, burst into tears at the final whistle, having returned to his hometown club last year to lead their push for promotion.
“It’s nice to be over the finish line. We deserve to go up, there’s no doubt about it,” the Wales striker told Sky Sports. “Let’s enjoy tonight and see where the next two weeks take us, try and finish as champions. This city’s been craving it for a number of years now. It’s going to be good.”
Charlton’s Johnnie Jackson came close to spoiling the promotion party on an emotional evening in the Welsh capital when he curled a free-kick against the post in the first half.
Craig Noone thought he had scored for the hosts late in the second half, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
However, it did not matter because third-placed Watford’s 1-0 defeat at Millwall guaranteed Cardiff’s promotion, sparking the pitch invasion that greeted the final whistle.
“It’s not really sunk in right now,” manager Malky Mackay said in an on-pitch television interview as he surveyed the scenes of jubilation. “There was a lot of hard work by a lot of people at the club and I’m delighted for these people.”
The Bluebirds last played among the English elite in 1962 and were playing in the fourth tier as recently as 2001.
Ironically, their promotion comes at the end of a season that began amid angry protests at Malaysian owner Vincent Tan’s controversial decision to change the club’s home kit from their habitual blue shirts with white shorts to red shirts with black shorts.
He also altered the club’s crest, with a red dragon taking the place of the traditional bluebird, which was moved to the base of the badge.
Cardiff will now look to seal the Championship trophy by winning at Burnley on Saturday.
There were tears of a different sort at Ashton Gate, after Bristol City’s 1-0 loss at home to Birmingham City consigned them to relegation to the third tier.
Despite their loss against beaten FA Cup semi-finalists Millwall, Watford remain six points behind second-place Hull City, who lost 1-0 at relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers.
However, neither Brighton and Hove Albion nor Crystal Palace could capitalize on the misfortunes of the two teams above them though.
Brighton’s 0-0 draw at Peterborough United was nonetheless enough to take them above Palace into fourth place after the Eagles crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Ipswich Town.
Leicester City returned to the play-off places at the expense of Bolton Wanderers after a hard-fought 3-2 win over Dougie Freedman’s side at the King Power Stadium.