I recently ‘watched’ Sheffield Wednesday get promoted back into The Championship from my apartment in Cape Town’s CBD in South Africa.
By ‘watched’ what I actually mean is ‘listened to’, on my laptop due, to the fact that League One is far too low a division to be shown on South African television.
Nonetheless, I felt Wednesday’s promotion as if I had been back home in the Steel City, I followed their whole season vicariously through the internet and experienced the usual rollercoaster ride that The Owls produce, just this time, I was on my own.
Truthfully, we know that League One isn’t a great league in terms of the football being played, it is however, a very physical and very tough division. So, to see Wednesday playing a nice brand of football, for the first time in as long as I can remember, was brilliant.
Not only did the football being played gain promotion, but it seems that the team are reaping the rewards for their style in a place which we need it most. The wallet.
Wednesday fans are under no illusions with Milan Mandaric. We know full well that he saved our club, he is one of the main reasons that we are where we are now and he’s also given us a bit of financial muscle ahead of our next, extremely difficult, Championship challenge.
However, while Milan’s money is helpful; Wednesday need income, proper, earned income. That sort of income comes from promotions, from shirt replicas, from sponsorships but more importantly, from ticket sales.
Any Wednesdayite, self-respecting or not, gloats about our fans. We know we do well in that respect, and we like to let people know about it. So, it would only be right for me to mention that the most recent ticket count saw a sale of 3,000 ‘new’ season tickets for Hillsborough next year. This means that 3,000 fans decided to bite the bullet and buy one, even though they didn’t have one the season before, or maybe even ever.
Yes, I know the critics will be harp on about ‘glory supporters’ and say things like ‘Where were you when times were hard?’, but the fact of the matter is that, by the end of the week, we are expected to have sold 13,000 season tickets for next year’s campaign. 13,000 tickets for a side that, if being realistic, could well get relegated again next season.
Although, being a Wednesdayite, we don’t think about the relegation. Do you know why? Because we’re hopeless optimists… If our current side faced off against Barca tomorrow we’d all say, “No, we don’t stand a chance”, however we’d all be saying in our heads, “Well, you never know.”
But, this year we have reason to be optimistic. Milan’s millions and the increase in interest for Dave Jones’ men has meant that we do have a financial muscle to flex. You add that to the undoubted history of our ‘sleeping giant’ and we have a team that players want to play for. We’ve already snapped up Chris Kirkland and Kieran Lee, Anthony Gardner’s move is all but finalised at the time of writing, and a whole host of others, including some of those on-loan last year, could be added to our ranks.
Just for the record, it’s not just Owls fans who think that it could be a good season to watch the Wednesday. Bookies are giving odds as low as 16/1 for Wednesday to win the league and you can stick your hard-earned cash on a promotion at 6/1. To me they seem like slim odds for a team who has literally just come up, but odds are odds.
Forgive me, like I say, I’m a football romantic. But could our ‘sleeping giant’ be stirring from its slumber? Or at least fidgeting a bit in bed? The Wednesday fans seem to think so at least, and for that reason, the blue and white wizards could be wandering out onto Hillsborough in front of crowds of about 25,000 people.
The last game of the season, in which we got promoted, looked like a sardine packers outing by the end, and the pictures stunned my South African colleagues. They couldn’t seem to to grasp the concept that a third tier club could be so well supported.
Our home game against Wycombe saw 38,082 cram in, that was the tenth highest attendance for a team in the country, and we were in League One. Keep up the good work Wednesday.
Can we kick it? @YesWeCrann… Follow me on Twitter folks!