There Are Still Dreams and Bridges to Burn
So we`ve already done Sheffield once this season. The Blades came and they were conquered. A deft swish of Stuart Beavon`s right-boot and the ball was in the net. It was the first ever league meeting with United and we were victorious. If that doesn`t provide belief in the triumph of hope then nothing will.
You know all about the City of Sheffield from last time. Brigantes, Romans, cutlery, weapons, railways and music. I`ve been told it`s a Mecca for real ale too. Its music scene even includes the likes of the melodic Richard Hawley. There was even a story that the Thompson Twins joined the Sheffield Wednesday squad to sing 'We Are The Owls` but this seems to be an urban myth.
The Wednesday Cricket Club was formed in 1820, named after the day of the week they played matches and the sport they played. Sheffield folk are world renowned for their sensible naming conventions. They decided to establish a football team in 1867 to help keep players fit and together during the off-season. They played their first ever game against The Mechanics. No-one knows whether Mike was involved though.
The football and cricket clubs parted company in 1882 with the cricket club folding in 1925. The Wednesday turned professional due to the fear that their players would leave to join other clubs. Having played at Bramall Lane in the early days, they moved to the new Olive Grove and became founder members of the Football Alliance and became champions in the inaugural 1889 season.
They joined the newly formed Football League Second Division in 1892 and won the FA Cup for the first time in 1896. They moved to Hillsborough in 1899 and were Second Division Champions in their first season. They have won the First Division title four times. They have also won the FA Cup three times, the last of which came in 1935. In 1929 they changed their name from The Wednesday Football Club to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
Their most recent success was in 1991 when they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the League Cup final at Wembley with current Chesterfield boss John Sheridan bagging the winner. It's been a bit barren in the last twenty years or so with the Owls relegated from the Premier League in 2000 and twice relegated to the third tier in 2003 and 2010.
Lots of celebrities support the Owls. Ashes hero Michael Vaughan, Monty Python's Michael Palin, boxer Johnny Nelson, Pulp`s Jarvis Corker, Weezer`s Rivers Cuomo and the Arctic Monkeys all follow the Wednesday. Not many players have worn the stripes and the quarters though. The privileged few are: Alex Weaver, Tony Cunningham, Guy Whittingham, Guy Branston, Leon Knight, Stephen Bywater and Iain Turner.
The current depressing struggle of the Blues (ooh, how about that) is nothing knew. The third tier of English football was proving to be extremely tough back in September 2003 when we hosted Sheffield Wednesday at Adams Park for the first and only time, until we meet again this weekend.
Thanks to the influence of Sky and their filthy lucre the game was switched to a Monday evening so the footballing world at large could witness the Wanderers` humiliation in their own living rooms. We were only to lose 2-1 but it was how we lost that left us red faced and condemned to stand in the corner with a dunces cap on.
Lawrie Sanchez took on the role of Chief Clown and made three changes to his starting line. Richard Harris replaced the late Simon Patterson and partnered Iffy Onuora in an attack sure to put the fear of God into any defence. At right-back Steve Dell was preferred to Danny Senda. In midfield Charlie Mapes was chosen ahead of Dannie Bulman.
It didn`t take long for the full horror to appear like the knife slicing through the shower curtain. Midfielder Richard Evans curled in a right-wing corner and the Blues defence left the bumbling Lloyd Owusu unmarked to head past goalkeeper Frank Talia from four yards. It`s enough to make you throw-up.
That was about the usual range for the ex-Slough Town donkey, but even so, if the Wanderers had any sense of decency they would have immediately walked off the pitch in shame and embarrassment at allowing him to score, and spent the rest of lives paying penance in a remote monastery in the Outer Hebrides.
Owusu then turned provider, crossing from the right for midfielder Alan Quinn to slot past Talia who was so exposed several kind Valley Enders offered fig leaves to cover his modesty. At least midfielder Michael Simpson showed some fight by booting Owusu up in the air and earning the best booking of his Wanderers career.
Talia had to make a brave block to deny striker Grant Holt soon afterwards as the visitors tore into a bedraggled home side and Roger Johnson almost deflected Quinn`s shot into his own net but the ball clipped the outside of the post. The 1,478 Owls fans in a crowd of 6,444 were certainly enjoying their evening.
Four minutes before half-time the Chairboys pulled a goal back against the run of play. Chris Vinnicombe pegged it down the left and crossed for Jermaine McSporran to spank home at the near post. Incredibly the hosts could have been level before the break when Darren Currie`s right-wing cross found Onuora free on the edge of the six-yard but by the time he had woken up a defender had dived in to make the block.
The second half saw the Blues huff and puff but they never looked like getting back on level terms. A series of long throws from Harris were easily dealt with whilst Currie whipped a free-kick off-target. Wednesday goalkeeper Ola Tidman (remember him? No, me neither) deflected McSporran`s effort over the bar and then got down well to save substitute Jonny Dixon`s shot.
The Owls finished the game with ten men after midfielder Derek Geary was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Vinnicombe but it came too late to make any difference and the game finished 2-1 to the visitors. By the end of the month Sanchez had been sacked and the season ended in relegation. Makes the current situation seem not quite so bad doesn`t it?
"All that`s left are memories"