Lee Chapman, A Cortina, And Me
Vital SWFC forum member Steph ('David Hirst') gives us the lowdown on how she became an Owl..
When Auckland Owl asked me to write an article for Vital, I wondered what to write as I'm just an ordinary fan who's been a season ticket holder for over 25 years. The only differences between me and the average Wednesdayite is that I am not a bloke and I live in - ahem - L**ds. So this is how a girl who is not from Sheffield joined the Wednesday faithful...
When my sister was born my dad was a bit disappointed. With his only sibling being a brother and his dad working for Sheffield Steel, he had lived in a 'man's world'. Why would he want a daughter? Girls are all things pink and fluffy and they don't play cricket or watch football. Ah well, next time eh!? And then a few years later, I came along. Arrrrggggghhhh! Another girl! At this point my mum put her foot down and refused to keep having babies just so that my dad could have a son, he had to put up with two daughters.
Although he was brought up in Barnsley, my dad was born into a history of Wednesday fans. This was a family tradition he was determined to pass on and so in an act of sheer desperation he took his eldest daughter to Hillsborough one Saturday. On his way, he dropped me at my Grandma's for the afternoon. I, to say the least, was not happy. My sister was going somewhere new and exciting (well I'd never been to Hillsborough at this point - I was young and naïve!) whilst the highlight of my afternoon would be a walk down Penistone High Street to buy a quarter of strawberry bonbons. So I cried. Then I stamped my foot. Then I cried some more. Not wishing to miss the kick off, my dad took off with my sister and returned 3 hours later to pick me up. By this point, I had moved from the tantrum stage to full on sulking. My sister had one of those really smarmy looks on her face that only older sisters can have so we bickered and argued and did a bit more crying. Little did I know that that tantrum was to mean that I would never have another strawberry bonbon. For an easy life and with hope in his heart that perhaps, just maybe, he could have produced a budding Sheffield Wednesday fan, despite never having had a son, my dad took both daughters to the next home game. Over a quarter of a century of joy and pain later, my dad and I still sit in exactly the same seats in the North Stand every other week.
Unlike most, I can't actually remember what the first game I ever went to was. To begin with I went just to get out of going to my Granny's and I wasn't a very good Wednesday fan. My first away game was at Watford when I sat in the Watford end and got carried away with the singing. My father despaired as I joined in with the Hornets. Oops! But I did get better. My mum knitted me a blue and white stripy jumper and I co-ordinated that with some lucky blue earrings and some beads which for years I wore to every home game. The real turning point was when I fell in love with Lee Chapman. I was only 10 but I dreamt of our wedding and posed for a photograph by his white Sierra with Lee Chapman written in blue down the side. Classy! Sadly, although I did get his autograph, it was unrequited love. Lucky escape there on my part I suppose!
Slowly but surely I became a proper Wednesday fan despite the abuse I received. By the time I was born, my family had relocated to West Yorkshire and so I was deemed a little bit odd for being an Owl. I remember sitting next to Andy Booth at school arguing about which was the best team between Wednesday and Huddersfield. Little did either of us know that one day, I would be sitting in the North Stand watching him swap the blue and white of Huddersfield for Wednesday!
There have been some bad days. I have seen us beat the best in the Premiership and lose to the worst in the equivalent of the 3rd Division. I remember on the way back from Wembley in '93 we stopped at a service station and ordered a pot of tea for four people. The waitress brought the tea and three cups and uttered the painful line of 'Oh dear, you're a cup short'. She wasn't kidding - we had just lost the FA Cup final!
But there have also been some great days. Winning the cup in '91 should be the best, but I think the most memorable was the play off final in Cardiff. What a day that was. A fantastic stadium and a fantastic result but most of all what a fantastic atmosphere, I loved every minute of it.
Favourite player? That's a tough one. Lee Chapman, Brian Marwood and Roland Nilsson are all possibles, but I think the honour goes to David Hirst: what I wouldn't give to have him back in the team!
Sometimes I wonder why I go? I am not the typical tomboy. Hillsborough is the coldest place on earth. The football is, these days, pretty awful and we generally lose more than we win.
But I can't stop. No matter how bad they get, they're still in my blood and I have never regretted giving up strawberry bonbons for the sake of the Owls!