Relegation from the premier league, two drops from the second tier, almost going bust, performances of such staggering ineptitude as to take your breath away, John Beswetherick, it’s not been much fun. And for the younger fan, it’s all they’ve ever known – the glory days of Hirst, Waddle, Wembley trips and European football happening in the far distant past for these tender young owlings.
That’s why this season has captured the imagination of all Wednesdayites – for probably the first time since the mid 90s, we are in the mix, a force to be reckoned with, one of the better teams in the league. (Granted, we did manage to get promoted in 2005, but we didn’t exactly dominate anything that season apart from a couple of heady, Kenwyne filled months). And this Saturday, away at Huddersfield, could be the most massive game in a season chock full of massive games.
We currently lie in third – two points behind our bitter, and significantly less successful, city rivals Sheffield United and three points above the Terriers. A win at the Galpharm and we all but bury our West Yorkshire cousins – leaving a straight shoot out between us and the Blades. A loss, or a draw, and things look pretty rosy for United as they bid to avoid the buttock-clenching uncertainty of the play-offs. But form is with us – since Dave Jones took the reins at Hillsborough, following the controversial departure of life-long fan and ex-player Gary Megson, we have not lost a single game.
Five wins and a draw have seen us take 16 points from a possible 18 – promotion form in any division. However, without wishing to be disrespectful to Bury (if such a thing is possible), the upcoming all Yorkshire tie will be the first real test since the super scouser arrived at the helm.
Few will forget the enthralling (and unjust) 4-4 draw in December when Jordan Rhodes set Hillsborough alight with a four goal haul and, as a side who have only lost four times all season, no one doubts that three points is a tough ask.
But there are reasons to be optimistic, Mikael Antonio, on loan from Reading has hugely impressed with his cheetah-like pace on the wings, Jose Semedo has been quite literally magical all season, and target man and part time horse boxer Gary Madine has found his scoring boots again.
Four thousand Wednesdayites are expected to make the short hop to the wrong side of Yorkshire and will no doubt be in fine voice throughout, but the pressure may finally tell on a Wednesday side as they near the final hurdle.
The battle between League 1’s most ruthless chairmen is likely to be a tight affair (4th placed Huddersfield jettisoned their manager two weeks before Mandric canned Megson) In a game where it is do or die, 15 years of broken dreams and flambéed hopes tell us to expect the worst: our expert prediction: Huddersfield 2 – 1 – Sheffield Wednesday.