Derby Day Memories - 2002
'Wednesday fans, always harking back to what they call the good old days. No-one remembers 1979. What have they done recently? Nowt.'
Of course, the blue half of Sheffield remembers Boxing Day 1979 all too well.. the red half prefers to forget that particular ignominious episode from their football history. But we here at Vital SWFC are always happy to oblige our friends from across the city, so let's remember a more recent derby match, just for a change. Let's see, which one shall we select..
How about September 1st, 2002?
A match remembered primarily for the contribution of a debut hero (former Brentford striker Lloyd Owusu, seen above in his beloved Bees kit) was full of sparkling football moments on a brilliantly fine late summer's afternoon.
United enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, Michael Tonge in particular delighting the visiting support with a mazy run. Terry Yorath's Owls produced little in the way of attacking football until diminutive striker Leon Knight's 17th minute effort.
Wednesday legend Kevin Pressman was in fine form, denying both Jon Paul McGovern (later to be part of the Owls' League One promotion effort under Paul Sturrock) and Iffy Onuora, then Tonge once more on 33 minutes. Half-chances for Stuart McCall and Shefki Kuqi weren't taken, and a blocked Tonge shot closed out the half.
Once more, the Blades came out of the tunnel the brighter, setting the Owls on the back foot: corners came flying in and the woodwork denied them. McCall prompted Carl Asaba into action, but Pressman was there to cover.
The tide began to turn in Wednesday's favour just past the hour. Paddy Kenny dropped a high ball and Rob Ullathorne was lucky to be on hand to clear a goalbound header from Kuqi. Then it was Paul McLaren's turn, firing wide, then striking the bar with the Blades goalkeeper stranded.
Neil Warnock's team responded: McCall again in the thick of it as he rattled the post. But cometh the hour, cometh the man, as new boy Owusu entered the fray on 71 minutes. A few moments later he was in the right place at the right time to nod in Kuqi's rebound.. the blue and white sides of the ground erupted in acclaim.
Eight minutes later, the workaholic Kuqi got his reward, ramming an Alan Quinn cross past Kenny to send the Owls fans into rapture. Peter Ndlovu and Asaba assaulted the Wednesday goal in the closing minutes but it was not to be.
Owusu's gesture on scoring with his first touch, the 'raise the roof' celebration, descended into Owls folklore, and if he never quite hit those dizzy heights again, Wednesday fans will always consider him a favourite son for that particular delightful derby day memory.
Sheff Wed: Pressman, Hendon (Owusu 71), Bromby, Burrows, Westwood, McLaren, Soltvedt (Quinn 57), Armstrong, Donnelly (Hamshaw 45), Kuqi, Knight. Subs not used: Evans, Maddix
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Kozluk, Ullathorne, Yates (Doane 77), Murphy, McCall, Jagielka (Brown 80), Tonge, McGovern (Ndlovu 79), Asaba, Onuora. Subs not used: Ten Heuvel, Montgomery
Bookings: Burrows, Hendon, McCall
Referee: Anthony Leake