After-match ramblings of London Owls chairman, Colin Grant …
The last few weeks of the season have been both dramatic and traumatic in equal measures – even by Wednesday standards. Part of you wanted us to be 12 points clear with only three games to go, forget the possibility of the play-offs and get the brochures out … while the other half was saying wouldn’t it be great if we could leave it until the last match of the season and then pip Sheff U to automatic promotion.
And the latter is just what happened this time around.
We know we are the masters of under-achieving and flattering to deceive – beating European Cup holders Man U 5-4 at Hillsborough in 1968 and then losing 3-1 at Exeter four days later in the League Cup … defeating the then mighty Leeds 3-1 at Elland Road in the FA Cup, only to go out to second division Birmingham in the next round … life following Wednesday is full of such examples.
Is that part of the joy of being a Wednesdayite or a source of constant irritation? Probably a bit of both.
But one thing is certain, days like Saturday and clinching promotion in front of 38,000 Wednesday fans are very special.
They make up for that rain-drenched night against Man City on the Kop way back in 1970 when we lost top flight status and got the midnight train home to London, final day relegation defeats against Forest and Palace and the last minute of extra time FA Cup final replay loss to Arsenal.
Yes, we know they are all part of the mixed diet of any football fan, but Sheffield Wednesday are recognised throughout the land as being a real football club.
What does that mean? Easy to say but a difficult one to describe. Above all else, it’s a club with a tremendous fan base, a ground with a fantastic feel of tradition and an attachment and attraction that once you get hooked on, you can’t – and don’t want to – shake off.
Like you all, many’s the time I have been on the way back from a drubbing 100-plus miles from home and have cursed or questioned my decision to go to a Wednesday game.
If you went for the match alone then you probably would have packed up by now, but it’s about a lot more than that … the fellow fans, the friendships and the club itself.
The way the results all came together in the last few weeks of the season was fantastic and made for a memorable finale at S6 on Saturday.
And let’s not forget one particular fellow Wednesdayite this weekend. Amidst all the celebrations, we should remember Gary Megson and the great work he did to begin to change fortunes on the pitch after inheriting a side which had totally lost its way under Alan Irvine.
The vast majority of Saturday’s squad were Megson’s men and we’ll never know if he would have taken us up as Dave Jones has done.
What we do know is that, just like Jack Charlton did in the seventies, Megson started to turn around the fortunes of the club. He laid some excellent foundations, brought in key signings like Jose Semedo and, most importantly, instilled the pride back into playing for Sheffield Wednesday.
Thanks, Gary, we won’t forget your input.
Now the attention turns to the Championship and people are already talking about us doing a Norwich or Southampton and gaining a second successive promotion back to the Premiership.
If we can take the momentum of the last quarter of the season into the Championship, if Milan Mandaric is willing to ‘splash the cash’, then who knows.
That might be the promotion party Stones or Stella doing the talking and, of course, we could flatter only to deceive once again. But then that’s what following Wednesday is all about …