Sunday, 10 September 2017

I have become a Sheffield Wednesday supporter

This was NOT football as I remember if from my younger days.


During the all of yesterday I scribbled notes for my daily blog then during the game I tried to both take photographs and write a minute by minute account of the game.

I am sitting now, 10am on Sunday 10th September, with my laptop on my knee and those notes to my left. So let me tell you all about the day.

5am - Up and writing today's blog. Bringing everyone up to date with The Wave Of Love.

Have a bath, get dressed, take the dogs for a walk. Suggest to Maureen that we may like to go to Morrissons for breakfast, I need to fill the car with fuel ready for the drive to Sheffield so why not have a bacon, sausage, mushrooms and fried bread as well - yummy - breakfast.

8.30am - Breakfast. Very nice. Saw some tubs of sweets on sale in the supermarket so got one to give to players and staff at Sheffield as a thank you.

The special cake and four bottles of champagne are all ready in the boot of the car.

9.25am - Time to leave. Drive up the A5 to Northampton and pick up Gary.

10.10am - Gary in the car. He looks good in his Sheffield Wednesday attire. I have tried to dress in blue and white. I will buy a scarf before the match. Try to look the part.

I think contractors should be prosecuted under The Trade Descriptions Act. How can you call them roadworks if nobody is doing any work  ?  We crawled up the M1 Motorway, everyone religiously following the fifty mile an hour speed limit and avoiding the sneaky cameras but not a road worker any where in sight !

12.15pm - At Meadowhall in Sheffield. Lunch in Harvester.  That was good.  I had my usual of a gammon steak with pineapple and chips. Just look at my pudding ! Thank you Gary for taking that photograph.

Trying to think how long it has been since I was last at a football game. Probably early 1970's at Villa Park. I am an Aston Villa fan. Not having been anywhere near Villa Park for more than four decades I doubt I will end up in the club's hall of fame.

There's a branch of Sports Direct in Meadowhall so off we go to buy a scarf. AH Mr Ashley, you are on my doings list for next week - I have to write to your PA about Sports Direct joining the OurRebekah Three Peaks Challenge. Cant wait to tell you that in your Sheffield store I can but a Chelsea Scarf, an Arsenal Scarf but NOT a Sheffield Wednesday scarf.

Back to the car and the short drive to the ground.

2.30pm - we are parked just to the left in the picture below right. (Does that make sense ?) Cost £7 to park which I thought was not bad at all. Just a couple of hundred yards from the stadium. Never managed to park that close at Villa Park. Cost more than £7 to go shopping at The Centre MK which is why I avoid he place like the plague !  Parking at Meadowhall was FREE.

Asked a couple of fans in the car park to sign some of the cards I had in my pocket to give to families in Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham when I visit on Tuesday.

Asked the car park attendant to sign one. Sheffield people are very kind and friendly aren't they ?

2.35pm - in the club shop buying a scarf. Chose what Gary called a traditional scarf.  I like it.

Get a programme.

Going to give my scarf, the programme and my ticket to a family in Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Flicking through the programme. When I get home I have to write an article for a future edition. Trying to work out where it is likely to appear.

Don't have a clue !

Walking round to the reception this guy come up to us and shakes Gary's hand.

"Who was that ?" I asked Gary when he was gone.

"Carlos Carvalhal, the manager."


2.50pm - sitting in the club reception. Told them that we are here to meet Club Director Trevor Braithwait.  We were early, he had said to meet him at 3.30pm so I told the lady behind the desk not to worry we would happily sit and wait.

Over the past few weeks I have chatted to Trevor a few times on the phone and exchanged e-mails. I liked the man but wondered what he was going to be like in the flesh. What is a director of a famous football club like ?  Must be some form of god at the very least.

When he walked in, stretched out his hand and said, "Hello David, I am Trevor," he was not like I had imagined. What a super, real person he is. Gary had just met Carlos Carvalhal and now we were shaking hands with is boss.

I handed over the bag, Yes Mike Ashley it was a Sports Direct bag even if you do not sell Sheffield Wednesday Scarfs ! "The champagne is for when you win," I explained.

"Better put it on ice then," Trevor smiled. 

"Ok, let's go pitch-side."

3.40pm - We walked down a corridor, through the players entrance and on to the pitch. There we were at the centre of a famous football club celebrating its centenary year.

The stadium is all but empty but I am clicking my camera like crazy.

I don't have a cheapo camera, cost me a couple of hundred quid, but you should have seen that hanging round the neck of Steve Ellis as we are introduced to the club's official photographer.

"You hold on to the ball," Trevor said to Gary. "I'll going and find a player then we can do the presentation and Steve will take the pictures.

"We'll probably end up with the third reserve goalkeeper," Gary said quietly and smiling to me.

Trevor vanished down the players' tunnel and did not come back.
"Hurry up Barry," Steve said to himself.

"Oh god ! It's going to be Barry Bannan !" Gary exclaimed excitedly.

"Who's he ?"

"Only the best player on the team, that's who."

I turned to a club member of staff. "I will donate,"  I said, "£10 to OurRebekah and Ronald McDonald House Birmingham for every goal you score this afternoon."

"We'd better win ten nil then."

"Do that and I will make it £100 a goal."

4pm - Scottish International and Sheffield Wednesday star player, 27 year old Barry Baannan joins us, stands with Gary and I, Steve arranges the group and the camera clicks.
Thank You Barry, you are a great guy. I mean that you are.

Barry returns to the dressing room and we leave the pitch to find our seats. We went back inside then followed the directions only to find we were sitting just a few feet away from where the picture had just been taken.

4.15pm - I asked some of the stadium stewards to sign cards for families in Ronald McDonald House Birmingham.

There are kids on the pitch being allowed to kick footballs about. That's really nice.

More than an hour to kick off and there are hardly any people in the stadium. I do hope it is a good attendance.

4.30pm - It starts to rain. To rain heavy. The wind blows the rain under the cover of the stadium and we are getting wet.

4.35pm - The PA system starts to play music. PA system is a bit NAF. Gary posts on Facebook where we are.
Tony Ingleman from Secklow 105.5, they could do with you here to DJ the music.

4.45pm - Nottingham Forrest players out to warm up on the pitch.

4.50pm - Sheffield Wednesday players come out to warm up.
5.05pm - I would estimate that the ground is only 20% full. This does not look good.

Where is everyone ?

The teams are announced. I can not understand a word being said over the PA but the video screen says Barry Bannan is playing at number 10. I am going to watch out for him throughout the game, my camera will be pointing in his direction.  You make sure Sheffield wins Barry or I'll take my champagne back !

5.15pm - A photographer friend of Gary's calls him to say she is covering the game as a freelance. Where are we sitting ?

I can see official club photographer Steve Ellis's camera pointing at me. Very nice Steve, I try to smile. Go away Steve !

5.20pm - It has stopped raining, the sun is shining and I estimate the ground is about 70% full. Why have people left it so late to arrive ?

Atmosphere is building in the stadium and I am really enjoying myself as kick off approaches.

This is not football as I remember it from the days at Villa Park. this is more relaxed, it is infinitely more fun and everything is so much closer and real than I remember from my youth. If only the club had a PA system that worked properly !

Mascots Ozzie and Barnie are out. Everything is about to start. I quickly turn my camera to video mode as the crowd explodes in song.

If you are reading this on-line you can click here and watch. If you are reading in paper format that won't work. Don't worry you've not missed much.

Sky Sport did not offer me a job at the end of the game !

My video did, however, capture Gary's photographer friend and she is pointing her lens right at us !

Nothing at all to do with Sheffield Wednesday and the football match but she took this picture of Lucy. Brilliant isn't it ?

We can use that picture to help promote our Doggie Treasure Hunt project.

Back to where we were. Saturday 9th September 2017 and the kick off at Hillsborough.

I forgot, I should have said that Club Director Trevor came round to ask if we were happy and had everything gone well. Happy ? Over the moon Trevor, over the moon ! Has everything gone well ?  Make sure that champagne is
well cold because Sheffield Wednesday is going to win.

From the start Sheffield is the better team. Fans are excited. Forest fans a bit quiet. Lovely atmosphere.

Brilliant shot Sheffield Wednesday. Good save Forest.

5.34pm - Another close miss from Sheffield.

5.36pm - Corner for Sheffield Wednesday. Sheffield is by far the better team. Shot at goal, over the bar. The atmosphere is alive and wonderful. I am looking for Barry Bannan all the time.

5.48pm - Forest looking a bit dangerous. Good save Sheffield. Barry on the far side of the pitch.

Good cross Barry.

Corner. Came to nothing.

Ross Wallace injured by a foul. Trainer on the pitch. He's OK. Play resumed.

5.40pm - Sheffield header over the bar.

5.50pm - GOAL ! A Bannan pass converted by Gary Hooper. Sheffield Wednesday 1
- Nottingham Forest 0. The crowd is alive.

5.59pm - AH ! Forest have equalised. Sheffield Wednesday 1 - Nottingham Forest 1.

6.01pm - Throw in for Sheffield Wednesday. Blatant foul ! Shirt tugging. The referee did not see it !  Come on referee !

6.10pm - Free kick to Sheffield Wednesday. The atmosphere is a bit tense. Useless. Goal kick.

Oh a beautiful cross from Wallace. Save.

The crowd has gone quiet.

A good pass from Barry Bannan but nobody there to receive it.

Sheffield Wednesday throw in. We are playing in stoppage time.

HALF TIME. Sheffield Wednesday 1 - Nottingham Forest 1.

Hang on. What's happening ?  They are watering the pitch. Excuse me but it has been raining !

See the lad in this picture, the steward in the yellow jacket ? He signed one of our cards for me to take to Ronald McDonald House on Tuesday.

I felt sorry for him, he spent the entire game with his back to the play watching the crows. How boring can that have been ?

Second half. The players are back.

6.40pm - Near miss. Forest free kick. Sheffield Wednesday in a wall. Nice save goalkeeper.

6.45pm - Have they changed the off side rule without my realising ? Or does the linesman have his own interpretation of the rule ?

6.46pm - Free kick to Sheffield. A Barry Bannan cross. Came to nothing.

6.47pm - Corner for Sheffield Wednesday. Good header. Save !  Oh !

Perhaps I am being biased in saying so but this Barry Bannan is good. He is playing his heart out.

6.50pm  - Another corner for Sheffield Wednesday. GOAL !  Steven Fletcher.

Sheffield United 2 - Nottingham Forest 1

Barry is limping. Oh no !  He's Ok. I think.

6.52pm - the light is going, taking pictures now may be a bit hard. Looks like the floodlights were installed by the same contractor as the PA system.

6.55pm - Off side Nottingham Forest.

6.56pm - Substitution by Sheffield Wednesday.

GOAL ! Kieran Lee. Sheffield Wednesday 3 - Nottingham Forest 1.

7pm - Hand ball from Forest. The crowd is electric. Could do with a bit of electricity for these damn floodlights.

Substitution - they have taken Kieran Lee off !

7.03pm - Free kick for Sheffield. Barry takes it.

By the way it's a 25,000 attendance.
Hooper off - substitution.

7.06pm - Throw in to Sheffield Wednesday.

Barry in possession, he passes............

7.12pm - Throw in for Sheffield Wednesday.

7.13pm - Throw in for Sheffield Wednesday.

The light is really poor. Yeh we can all see but any picture taking is now impossible.
Off side Nottingham Forest.

Stewards are coming out. People are starting to leave. they think it is all over.

7.14pm - Nottingham Forest corner.

7.15pm - Goal Kick.

7.16pm - Throw in for Sheffield.

7.17pm - Brilliant save Sheffield.

Barry makes a pass. Wasted ! Why is the crowd leaving ?  Part time supporters ?

7.18pm - Corner Nottingham Forest.

7.19pm - Goal kick Sheffield Wednesday.

7.21pm - Referee blows his whistle. Sheffield Wednesday 3 - Nottingham Forest 1

For the first time the PA system works as it blasts SINGING THE BLUES.

I have not been able to get that DAMN TUNE out of my head all day. It is now 3.21pm on Sunday 10th September. I started working on this match report at 10am, true I have had a few breaks but in total I have spent about four hours working on the webpage.

Gary and I had a good journey home, getting away from the ground in the traffic was not easy but certainly far from hard. We stopped on the motorway and sat down at Burger King. (Sorry Ronald !) Gary came round an hour or so ago, we talked about yesterday. I announced to him and now here to the world: I have resigned as a fan of Aston Villa to become a Sheffield Wednesday fan. I've been out and got thank you cards for Trevor, Barry and Steve to tell them of my conversion.

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