Vital Football

Latest Sheffield Wednesday News

I Wish I Supported Wednesday

I Wish I Supported Wednesday

I wish I supported Wednesday... By Jeff Gold

An extraordinary thing to say, by anybody at any time, but coming from Jamie on that sunny autumn afternoon it was truly astonishing. You see, Jamie is a Sheffield United fan. Not a very good one - he was on the terraces at Hillsborough at the time - but a United fan all the same. And it was November 1989. Wednesday were bottom of Division One, while United were bludgeoning their way to promotion from Division Two. Nevertheless, that day Jamie was watching something fresh, something exciting, and he was beguiled by its grace and beauty.

He was not the only one. I’d not seen football like this at Hillsborough since, well, ever really. Not from the home side anyway. I had not long been supporting Wednesday when, in 1976, it took a final-day victory to save them from relegation to Division Four. It was the lowest point in their history. Although their subsequent rise was far from meteoric (which is hardly surprising since meteors seem much more adept at falling than rising) by the mid-eighties they had finished fifth in Division One and were reaching cup semi-finals on a regular basis.

Heady days, but a revival masterminded first by Jack Charlton then Howard Wilkinson inevitably gave us football designed more for the athlete than the aesthete. Now Racist Ron was in charge. His initial efforts had been reasonably easy on the eye. Unfortunately, they were even easier on the opposition. After eleven games of the 1989/90 season Wednesday had three goals, six points and a serious problem.

Then John Sheridan arrived from Forest and suddenly, immediately, everything was good. He rarely ran, never tackled, and simply couldn’t head the ball, but his passing was so cultured as to take afternoon tea on the terrace whilst listening to a spot of Puccini. He started by masterminding a 1-0 win at his old club. Then came the Revelation Game: Jamie watched in awe and wonder as Wednesday dismantled Charlton, while I became convinced that, rather than enduring a relegation six-pointer, I was witnessing the dawn of a golden era.

From that day on, giving Wednesday the ball was like knocking it over old Mrs Wilson’s garden hedge. You never knew when, or indeed if, you would get it back. Unfortunately, like Mrs Wilson, they were not always sure what to do with it and, on occasion, they suffered the dictators’ fate, dominating for long periods before succumbing to a single shot. At least now they were a pleasure to watch and also genuinely competitive. So much so, that they crashed through the magical forty-point barrier well before Easter, everybody breathed a huge sigh of relief and the players were treated to a short holiday.

Six games later Wednesday were relegated and Jamie changed his mind.

Fortunately, these were pre-Premiership days and relegation did not necessarily lead to all-round financial meltdown, the whole squad being paraded in the pound-shop window and the installation of Ken Bates as chairman. Wednesday managed to keep their squad together, season-ticket sales actually increased and the streets around Hillsborough filled with optimism, that invidious and deceitful beast that usually stalks football grounds in only three forms: unfounded, misguided and blind.

On this occasion, however, it boasted the eagle-eyes of an Action Man as Wednesday enjoyed that rare, almost mythical thing, a Proper Promotion. The kind of season where the inevitability of success becomes apparent from the very first game, your team is clearly the greatest the world has ever seen, by far, and every game, particularly away from home, becomes a celebration. During the opening fixture in Suffolk, I simply don’t remember an Ipswich player touching the ball, not even to kick off which is odd. This may have had something to do with my sickness-induced delirium - I clearly recall Pele turning neatly in the area and teeing up Eusebio to crash home a volley for the second goal - but still, to me, it seemed like the complete performance.

Wednesday continued in much the same vein for the rest of the season, possession now being converted into goals, many of which were pleasingly ugly. Their main weakness the previous year had been to favour artistic merit over results, style over substance - like Holland, but without the squabbling. They hadn’t so much laboured as entertained under the impression that the only worthy goal was an intricately woven length-of-the-field creation involving all eleven players, incorporating a mazy dribble, a back heel and a nutmeg, and culminating in a stunning strike from at least twenty yards, preferably a volley or a diving header which counted double, or something.

They continued to score such goals in Division Two but it was the tap-ins, the scuffs, and the scrappy scrambles that really made the difference. Of course, playing the likes of Bristol Rovers rather than Liverpool may also have helped, but six unbeaten games against Division One opposition, a sequence they rounded off by beating Manchester United at Wembley to win their first trophy for fifty-six years, suggested they were good enough to compete at a higher level.

And so, like Sheridan, it came to pass. Despite the loss of Ron in a parting more unpleasant than the one on his head, their return to the top flight saw them finish third, having still been involved in the Championship race with two games remaining. The season after that, they played in Europe and reached the final of both cups, and it was several more years before they took the fashion for seventies revivals a little too literally, embarking on a descent that was truly meteoric.

So, a golden era indeed, and it all started on that sunny afternoon when Jamie made his announcement. Just for a while he wished he supported Wednesday and, just for a while, it didn’t seem like such a ridiculous idea.

Chelsea v ManU

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Nick
Date:Thursday April 27 2006
Time: 11:11AM

Comments

0
A brilliant read Jeff - puts a smile on faces after seeing the Blunts take the number one spot in Sheffield, or even Yorkshire, for next season! Look forward to publishing more of your work - hopefully we can sort something out to make it a more common occurance, and get a section of the site sorted out for fan articles (I'm having problems sorting that out at the moment!). As you know it's been difficult getting it on the site, but hopefully we can make your next article a bit more aesthetically pleasing, adding pictures and 'cool' headings etc. Cheers once again!
nickswfc
27/04/2006 11:17:00
0
very good article mate. well written and pretty much spot on!
welshyowl
27/04/2006 16:09:00
0
Marvellous, Jeff. Looking forward to reading more.
Auckland Owl
27/04/2006 20:40:00
0
im not old enough to remember those days it happened just before i became a wednesday regular! great story though, makes me with I was an owl at that time!
spirtySWFC
27/04/2006 22:56:00
0
Not a Wednesday fan but great reading to the neutral all the same! More please!
greyhound
28/04/2006 12:03:00
0
yawn
Mexbro miller
29/04/2006 16:25:00
0
Great artical, really capture the moments.
Happyowl9
02/05/2006 10:44:00
0
Why the ''yawn'' Mexbro miller? What have you lot ever done? Beating US at Hillsborough is probably your defining moment :)
welshyowl
02/05/2006 16:54:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Sheffield Wednesday Articles

Getting Shirty

We take a look at Wednesday's new 3rd strip, selected by the fans, for the 150th year of Sheffield Wednesday.

Championship Cost Per Goal So Far In 2016/17

The end of the Championship campaign of 2016/17 is only a month and a bit away from fans across the country but as we go in to the remaining weeks of the campaign...

Premier League Confirm 2017/18 Fixture Release Date

The Premier League have now confirmed the date on which the fixtures for the campaign of 2017/18 will be released.

EFL Goal Of 2016 Contenders Named

Ten EFL professional footballers find themselves nominated for the treasured Goal Of The Year gong for 2016.

Archived Vital Wednesday Articles

Vital Wednesday articles from

Site Journalists

Ed Jepson
Editor email
Profile
Tom Sellers
no email
Profile

Current Poll (see more polls)

Will Wednesday finish in the top six?
Suggested By: Vital Wednesday
Yes, dont panic!62%
Yes, if Carlos is replaced!0%
Agony as we just miss out0%
No, we wont this season38%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Newcastle 38 24 6 8 78 38
2 Brighton 38 23 8 7 77 30
3 Huddersfield 37 22 5 10 71 4
4 Leeds Utd 38 21 6 11 69 16
5 Reading 38 20 7 11 67 2
6 Sheff Wed 38 18 8 12 62 9
7 Fulham 38 16 13 9 61 19
8 Norwich 38 16 9 13 57 9
9 Preston 38 15 12 11 57 6
10 Derby County 38 14 11 13 53 3
11 Barnsley 38 14 9 15 51 0
12 Aston Villa 38 13 12 13 51 0
13 Cardiff 38 14 9 15 51 -1
14 Brentford 38 14 8 16 50 3
15 Q.P.R. 38 14 8 16 50 -5
16 Wolves 37 12 9 16 45 -2
17 Ipswich 38 10 15 13 45 -9
18 Birmingham 38 11 12 15 45 -16
19 Bristol City 38 11 8 19 41 -3
20 Forest 38 11 8 19 41 -11
21 Burton 38 10 11 17 41 -14
22 Blackburn 38 9 13 16 40 -11
23 Wigan 38 8 10 20 34 -13
24 Rotherham 38 4 5 29 17 -54
The Vital Football Members League
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News
Vital Football Comment

Recent Sheffield Wednesday Results (view all)

Sheffield Wednesday Fixtures (view all)

Apr 1 2017 12:30PM : Barnsley (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 4 2017 7:45PM : Rotherham United (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 8 2017 5:30PM : Newcastle United (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 14 2017 3:00PM : Cardiff City (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 17 2017 3:00PM : Queens Park Rangers (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 22 2017 3:00PM : Derby County (H)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

RankNamePoints
1.dooleys left leg2
Write for Vital Football