The London Owls send our deepest sympathies to the family of our former manager Jack Charlton after the sad news of his passing, aged 85.
Jack, who died yesterday at his Northumberland home with his family by his side, had been diagnosed with lymphoma last year and had also been suffering with dementia.
The England World Cup winner joined us in October 1977 with the team in the old Third Division and, following on from Len Ashurst’s initial good work, totally turned around the club’s on-the-pitch fortunes during the next six years.
He was the man in charge for the FA Cup marathon third round tie with eventual trophy winners Arsenal in the 1978-79 season, Third Division Wednesday taking them to five matches before the Gunners finally beat us 2-0.
Big Jack also led us to the famous 4-0 Boxing Day Massacre victory over Sheffield United at Hillsborough in 1979, a win that was the catalyst for us gaining promotion back to the old Second Division in the same season, all but clinching that on a brilliant night at Blackburn.
We soon established ourselves as a competitive team in the second tier and narrowly missed out on promotion back to the old Division One in the 1981-82 season, finishing fourth.
The following campaign saw us again pushing for that return to the top flight but we eventually finished sixth, also reaching the FA Cup semi finals for the first time in 17 years, before losing 2-1 to Brighton at Highbury.
At the end of that season, Jack announced he was leaving Hillsborough and he did so … despite the directors trying to persuade him to stay.
Howard Wilkinson then took up the reins and, building on the nucleus of Jack’s squad, steered us back to Division One in the following season while Jack went on to enjoy great success as manager of the Republic of Ireland team.
Thanks, Jack … for steering Sheffield Wednesday on the road to recovery, for leading us from the footballing doldrums back to the edge of the top flight of English football … and for so many great memories.
RIP Big Jack. A true Wednesday legend.