We Get Knocked Down, But We Get Up Again
Hasn't it always been this way being a Wednesday fan? The ups and downs, the highs and lows, the rollercoaster ride. And the troughs have been pretty deep: lower divisions, no direction, no highlights, no leadership.
A month or so ago, the prospect again was bleak. A protracted saga of failed investment and dashed hopes had drawn to a close. The team was in limbo, crippled by a slew of injuries as bad as I can ever remember at S6.. we couldn't even fill the bench. With no sign of investment, week in week out, Brian Laws roused the gang of callow youths and patched up old lags who were still standing and sent them out to do their best and try to push the club forward on the pitch.
Off the pitch? Silence. Inertia. No chairman. No leadership. No voice.
Except for that of Brian Laws, who seemed to be the only one to put his head above the parapet. For a time he WAS the public face of Sheffield Wednesday. On match day, in midweek, in the news, on the radio.. his was the only voice we heard say anything significant. And that was really above and beyond the call of duty: he's the manager. He's not the chairman, not the chief executive, not a director, not the PR department.. yet he was wearing all those hats, plus he still had time to crank out some charity work. Kudos to the guy.
And now? Lee Strafford and Nick Parker blow in like a whirlwind. Gently brushing the boardroom cobwebs aside, they survey the scene and in a most un-Wednesday-like manner, prompt some activity and action. They attack the simple small problems straight away.. the irritants that really annoy fans, who lets face it will put up with a heck of a lot in the name of Wednesday, but it just helps, doesn't it, if the ticketing is accessible and prompt and the food supplies are adequate and there's a bit of entertainment and innovation on matchday and the prices (please god) are reasonable in this day and age?
It remains to be seen if more fans on cheaper tickets generates as much cash as a half-empty Hillsborough and expensive tickets.. but isn't it better to get folks through the door into a stadium that no longer has the atmosphere of a morgue, that has a crowd at least approaching what we'd expect, all of which are capable of spending the money they saved on the ticket on a programme, some stuff from the shop or an extra pie?
The new men talked to the whole club: they didn't leave anyone out. Turnstile operators, stewards, shop staff.. everyone was made to feel a part of the dream and that they had a say and their opinion would be heard. It extends to the fans too, now.. we think these guys are listening to us.
It's easy isn't it? So easy.
So why the [insert expletive here] hasn't it happened before now? I hope those who are no longer involved in the day to day running of the club take a good long hard look at themselves. You had your chance, you blew it and quite frankly, we're glad you're gone.
So, on now to stage two.. the simple problems have been sorted, now the hard part. We're a mid table side at best, but a couple of astute loan signings in midfield give the team a real balance and promise. We're seeing some protection for the back four and some drive and invention. We're seeing some ammunition for the strikers, happy they have something to feed off. It's early days, and a loss would bring the old doubt back, but we're moving in the right direction.
Strafford and Parker have made some promises. Who knows what will happen by March 31st? But it's a real pleasure to be a Wednesday fan at the moment: even at this distance I can feel the optimism, I read it in every report, my Owls friends give me the buzz every time I talk to them. If leadership and common sense are the only things the new directors bring to the club, then that's got to be a positive thing. But I sense there's so much more in the offing.
Hand on my heart, something about these guys feels right. It's plain to see. Goodbye to inactivity and insults to our intelligence. Hello to inspiration and innovation. A new era of co-operation and working together for the same goal.
We'll be singing.. when we're winning. Up The Owls!