Vital Football

Latest Sheffield Wednesday News

A Day Out In Preston With Wednesday

A Day Out In Preston With Wednesday

From museums to cheerleaders, the sublime to the ridiculous: a day out in Preston with Wednesday...by Jeff Gold


Pele controlled the ball instantly, stood for what seemed like an age, then invited Carlos Alberto to slam the ball into the far corner.

"We`ll see plenty more of that this afternoon" said the lady next to me. She was joking, of course.

I was at the National Football Museum in Preston, enjoying some glorious moments from football`s past. In a matter of minutes I would be just next door, enduring moments from its present: Sheffield Wednesday`s season-opener with Preston North End. This wouldn`t be just like watching Brazil, not even the clueless collection of corpulent clowns that sullied this summer`s World Cup in Germany. My expectations suitably managed, I made my way to the turnstiles.

The fans in the away end were inexplicably buoyant. Pre-season, Wednesday had been battered 4-0 by Mansfield and had turned injury into something of an art form. This was their first competitive fixture for three months, yet seven players were unavailable. It was quite some achievement and, in honour of England`s World Cup campaign, they arrived at Deepdale with just one fit, adult striker. Still, at least it wasn`t Peter Crouch.

The home crowd was a little more subdued. Preston`s successive play-off appearances had largely been thanks to its rock-solid defenders but, now, three of them were lost: two to the Premiership, the other to long-term injury. The manager had also gone, acrimoniously to Derby, while David Nugent, a talented striker, remains the subject of Premiership interest and may not see out the month. New manager, Paul Simpson, promised a more attacking approach. However, the fans remained sceptical. The atmosphere was a mixture of pessimism and apathy. "Go on then, bloody well entertain us" seemed to be the unspoken message.

The club rewarded them with cheerleaders. Not in any apologetic way but as though it was the newest and freshest thing imaginable, that the very idea had just been conceived, that day, by them. It was a crime compounded by the choice of accompanying music, Eye of the Tiger, which was pumped through at a volume sufficient to grind the speakers to dust. In terms of pre-match entertainment, the contrast with the museum could not have been more stark.

Fortunately, even before the girls managed to arrange themselves into some kind of bizarre pyramid, let alone form a desperately sad guard-of-honour at the tunnel, the players took matters into their own hands by interrupting the performance and insisting on some football. Wednesday started brightly. As the away side, their enforced 4-4-1-1 formation suited them. On a couple of occasions it looked as though keeper, Brad Jones, had been introduced to his defenders just the day before but, seeing as he had, that was probably fair enough. Otherwise they looked solid.

In midfield, Folly was outstanding, repeatedly nicking possession to supply the unlikely, lightweight forward partnership of MacLean and Brunt: one resembling a fey Scottish artist, a member of Travis perhaps, the other a truculent teenager, all head-down and uncommunicative. They combined well but didn`t get much support, Wednesday`s wide men having been selected partly for their ability to walk without the aid of crutches, but mainly for their defensive capabilities. As for the full-backs, well, in the whole history of the world, perhaps only Denis Thatcher can have had less enthusiasm for entering the other half.

All of which meant that Wednesday were restricted to half-chances, none of which went close. The exception came on the stroke of half-time when Brunt`s exquisite lob nestled in the corner of the net. Sensing the opportunity for a therapeutic release of adolescent angst, the referee disallowed it, citing the use of Brunt`s hands, an unlikely offence for someone who spent most of the game with them rammed in his pockets.

Preston were neat and tidy but appeared to lack conviction. Although he put this down to them being "a little bit nervy and rusty", it looked as if they didn`t quite yet believe in new manager`s system. Nevertheless, they created all the clear openings - one in the first-half and three in the second - and had a goal of their own disallowed. McKenna was their key man: a bustler and scurrier, he kept them ticking over and was always involved. Whaley and Nugent provided the threat but Dichio was disappointing, a human pinball machine, the ball bouncing off him at improbable speeds and angles.

All in all, it was a thoughtful, cagey affair. Players rarely resorted to the aimless hoof, there was very little crash or bang, and the only wallop came from Lee Bullen`s studs-up challenge as Wednesday continued their tribute to the national team by having a man sent off early in the second half and setting their sights on a 0-0 draw. To achieve it, they retreated still further. Brunt withdrew, both positionally and mentally, and looked ever more sullen as the game progressed. His stoop became a slouch and his feet began to drag. Eventually he was substituted, if only to prevent him slumping against the corner flag, pulling out his Gameboy and grunting a bit.

Despite a few scares, Wednesday held on. It wasn`t so much a festival of football as a carnival of competence, a Mardi Gras of the mundane, but as they filed away into the late-afternoon sunshine, both sets of supporters could hold on to their dreams of glory, their hopes of an unbeaten season. For a few days at least...

Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.
www.papajohns.co.uk/football


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

Writer:Nick
Date:Wednesday August 16 2006
Time: 11:14AM

Best of Vital Network

Vital Boxing - Haye’s Blast

Comments

0
Thanks Jeff, a rattling good read.
Auckland Owl
16/08/2006 22:20:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Sheffield Wednesday Articles

Wednesday At Wembley - Hopes And Fears (Part 1)

First up Vital Wednesday writer Martin Wood with his hopes, fears and prediction

Carlos Carvalhal - The Conductor Of The #swfc Orchestra

Alex Roberts looks at the impact of one Carlos Carvalhal on us all at S6

Wednesday - FL Dates 2016/17 (23/5/16)

The Football League have released the key dates for the coming 2016/17 season.

Head to Head - Wednesday Vs Hull City

Who has the historical edge ahead of Saturday`s playoff final?

Archived Vital Wednesday Articles

Vital Wednesday articles from

Site Journalists

Ed Jepson
Editor email
Profile
Greg Pursehouse
no email
Profile

Current Poll (see more polls)

Are you going to Wembley?
Suggested By: Vital Wednesday
Yes, come hell or high water!88%
No, don't want to talk about it :-(12%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
C Burnley 46 26 15 5 93 37
P Middlesbrough 46 26 11 9 89 32
3 Brighton 46 24 17 5 89 30
4 Hull City 46 24 11 11 83 34
5 Derby County 46 21 15 10 78 23
6 Sheff Wed 46 19 17 10 74 21
7 Ipswich 46 18 15 13 69 2
8 Cardiff 46 17 17 12 68 5
9 Brentford 46 19 8 19 65 5
10 Birmingham 46 16 15 15 63 4
11 Preston 46 15 17 14 62 0
12 Q.P.R. 46 14 18 14 60 0
13 Leeds Utd 46 14 17 15 59 -8
14 Wolves 46 14 16 16 58 -5
15 Blackburn 46 13 16 17 55 0
16 Forest 46 13 16 17 55 -4
17 Reading 46 13 13 20 52 -7
18 Bristol City 46 13 13 20 52 -17
19 Huddersfield 46 13 12 21 51 -11
20 Fulham 46 12 15 19 51 -13
21 Rotherham 46 13 10 23 49 -18
R Charlton 46 9 13 24 40 -40
R MK Dons 46 9 12 25 39 -30
R Bolton 46 5 15 26 30 -40
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News

Recent Sheffield Wednesday Results (view all)

Sheffield Wednesday Fixtures (view all)

Vital Members League Table

RankNamePoints
1.swfcjambo4
2.dooleys left leg4
3.OurMaurice1
4.brinsworthowl1
5.Snod77611
6.markjr24011
7.John Bingham1