| 24 May 1997|| 46,804|
| Wembley Stadium, London|
Terry Heilbron (Durham)
The 1997 Football League Third Division play-off final was a football match played at Wembley Stadium on 24 May 1997, to determine the fourth and final team to gain promotion from the Third Division to the Second Division of The Football League in the 1996–97 season. It was contested by Northampton Town, who had finished fourth during the league season, and Swansea City, who had finished fifth. The teams reached the final by defeating Cardiff City and Chester City respectively in the two-legged semi-finals.
With the game heading for extra time, John Frain stepped up to score a retaken free kick past the Swansea City goalkeeper Roger Freestone in the third minute of stoppage time.
1997 Football League Third Division play-off Final Wikipedia
Northampton Town finished the season in fourth place in the Third Division table with 72 points, fourteen points short of the automatic promotion places. In the play-off semi-final they faced seventh placed Cardiff City, with the first leg away at Ninian Park on 11 May 1997 finishing 1–0 to Northampton. In the second match at Sixfields Stadium three days later, John Gayle scored the winning goal as Northampton won 3–2 to reach the final.
Swansea City finished the season in fifth place; one place and one point behind Northampton. Swansea faced sixth placed Chester City in the play-off semi-final, who they played away from home at the Deva Stadium in the first leg, and drew 0–0. Their progression to the final was confirmed with a 3–0 victory at the Vetch Field, which ended the tie with an aggregate score of 3–0.