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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Derby day nerves quickly gather pace

Vital writer Chris Mace continues the build-up to Sunday's big Steel City derby clash at Hillsborough by offering his memories, and hopes, of the big day.

Derby day evokes so many memories for so many people.

Being such a sprightly age, I am unable to recall the festive period of 1979, so many of my memories are relatively recent. We all tend to remember the good times. Sodje opening the scoring in the 2-0 cake walk at Hillsborough, Tudgay letting fly from 35-yards to win at the Lane for the first time in decades and, the peak of these memories for me, the Waddle free-kick and Brighty's header in extra time to seal the semi final at Wembley.

Growing up on the south side of Sheffield meant that Owls at school were slightly outnumbered. This meant, of course, that the wrong result in a derby would be disastrous for the coming weeks, and life could become quite miserable. This has left me with an underlying nervousness come the week of the game. When the fixtures are released, it's the first date I look for, and for the months leading up to it.

I excitedly think about it, but something changes once our preceding match is over. As soon as I know that our next game is the big one, something comes over me and I spend the week having sleepless nights, cold sweats, daydreams at work, arguments with the wife and uncontrollable vomiting (some of this may be actually true). I spend the week playing out the possibilities in my mind: what the team selection will be, where our major threats are, how we deal with their key players, so that by the time the game actually kicks off, my mind has played the full 90 minute fixture out several times.

One of the feelings that often sweeps over me is 'as long as we don't lose'. I guess this goes back to these days at school where a draw would mean relative peace and harmony in the playground with neither group having absolute bragging rights. A draw isn't the result I spend the week dreaming about. Being a football supporter is all about hopes and dreams, most of which never come to fruition, but the slightest of possibilities keeps us going week in, week out.

For a moment, let's think about the best possible scenario on Sunday for the Owls:

Despite poor form running into the game, Wednesday emerge as convincing winners and spirits are subsequently high at S6 leading to a complete turnaround in fortunes. Wednesday embark on a great run to the end of the season, sealing automatic promotion, whilst our rivals go on to struggle for the remainder of the season and their previous good form capitulates into disappointment come May. Wednesday march on, quickly gaining promotion again and return to the Premier League whilst our rivals languish in the lower divisions for almost a decade.

As ridiculous as this sounds, and as small as this possibility is, it sounds a lot like what happened following the match of Boxing Day 1979.

It's very unlikely that the result this Sunday will have such a dramatic effect on the fortunes of either club, but maybe, just maybe lightning could strike twice.

Our players have an amazing opportunity, and I hope some of them realise this, and play on Sunday like their entire career depends on it. Because it does! If the ultimate dream comes to pass then the names of these players will live long in the memory. Some of them (no disrespect) will never play above League One and this could seriously be the pinnacle of their career - they could achieve legend status at one of the biggest clubs in England, and a 90 minute football match could decide it.

But ultimately...I'm still nervous!


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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 23 2012

Time: 1:01PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
think this sums up the feelings of all of us just now. wish it would hurry up!
Report Abuse
23/02/2012 13:50:00

Imagine having these thoughts and feelings as a supporter and also being responsible for the result as you're the manager! How many sleepless nights that must cause. Good luck to Gary Megson and his men on Sunday, I'll be behind them for the full 90 minutes whatever happens on Sunday. Stay loud and stay patient Wednesdayites!!!!!
Report Abuse
23/02/2012 14:14:00

Ow come still no sign of Megson on Wednesday world?
Report Abuse
23/02/2012 16:56:00

This is not right at all there's something seriously wrong as to why Megson is keeping a low profile I can't help but think there is a element of truth about his fall out at the weekend with MM. this is the week which Megson should relish rallying the troops of his beloved against the Clampits any update would be welcome
Report Abuse
23/02/2012 19:32:00

This is my concern andymac,its ok MM coming out and saying theres no truth in the Megsons quit rumour,we need to hear it from the man himself.Hes normally always on saying something or other but nothing not a sausage.:-(
Report Abuse
23/02/2012 21:29:00

Personally i would rather Gary do his talking on the pitch rather than off it, don't know why some people try to make such a big thing of it, i'm sure that he'll do plenty of talking if he beats the pigs.According to a exkeeper of ours, if we get beat on sunday it will be his last.
ecco owl
Report Abuse
23/02/2012 22:39:00

i think this is the perfect game to address our slide in form, I think we'll win and kick start a run of results which will get us back in the automatic places. If the players can't get up for a game like this in front of a huge crowd at Hillsborough, which will be rocking, then they may as well pack up and go and do something else for a living. I'm not even contemplating defeat Sunday, no way, I'm not entertaining even the slightest thought we'll lose.
Report Abuse
24/02/2012 11:36:00

Well said, sussexowl. I expect every Wednesday player who takes to the field on Sunday to regard this one as THE game of the season. In some cases it could well be the game of their CAREER. One thing's for sure, Meggo won't need to motivate them. He'll let a packed, noisy and partisan Hillsborough do his talking. It's like the above article says: They have ninety minutes to become heroes. The '79 side are regarded as legends. So come on, lads. How badly do you want this?
Report Abuse
24/02/2012 12:12:00

YAY Megsons finally showed up.Come On You Owls
Report Abuse
24/02/2012 17:00:00


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