I made my way into the dining room ahead of the match, wished the happy smiling people at Hillsborough a Happy New Year and looked forward to an exciting game.
There was a gift of a club calendar for 2018 at my place. Sheffield Wednesday FC THANK YOU.
AH ! Look what else had been put on the table to await my arrival.
An invitation from the club;'s community programme to attend a twelve week fitness course ! Was someone trying to tell me something ?
I must confess that for a while I seriously considered signing up but to support my team at Hillsborough involves a three hour drive up the motorway and then a three hour dive home again. To commit myself to every Monday evening for twelve weeks could be, what is the word I am looking for ?
BONKERS ? Perhaps.........
Sheffield Wednesday is the best football club in England. FACT. This fitness project is part of a vast community programme which would put some of the "big" clubs to shame.
I have always liked Sheffield as a city, I have known it for many years. It is a warm, friendly city with a proud history. When the steel industry all but collapsed Sheffield did not fall into depression, it reinvented itself to become what it is today.
That warm city welcome is what everyone finds when they walk into Hillsborough. The kind lady who manages the reception desk smiled yesterday, wished us Happy New Year then without asking our names, she knew who we were, handed over the envelope containing our tickets.
The backroom staff, the stadium management team, the car park staff, the stewards, the media team - they make Sheffield Wednesday Football Club the best in the country.
25,506 PEOPLE attended yesterday's game. I am careful to use the word PEOPLE and not supporters. Let's say there were one and a half thousand Burton Albion SUPPORTERS there yesterday leaving twenty-four thousand to cheer on Wednesday.
Not the club, no not the club - the TEAM at Sheffield Wednesday is going through a bad time. Sixteenth in the table the finger of relegation is starting to point our way.
I was still in my seat when the final whistle blew to confirm a humiliating 3-0 defeat. The Burton Albion fans were there. Burton Albion is in twenty-second place in the league with the hand of relegation reaching out with certainty. How many of the Wednesday fans remained ? Five thousand perhaps. Not a lot more.
I watched temporary coach Lee Bullen give his post match assessment on the club website, the word he kept using was EMBARRASSED. He is a man of passion who was bitterly let down by his players yesterday. I am sure he told them what he though after the game. I know nothing at all about football tactics but I know a lot about passion and even more about support. Had I been in that dressing room with Lee I can assure you some backside would have been kicked.
Without a twelve week training course for overweight, aging fans such as I my performance on the pitch yesterday would have showed more passion than that of the highly paid team members.
The backside kicking I would have delivered to some players - not all, however, would have been a gentle tickle to what I would like to give to the fifteen thousand or so supporters who deserted their club ahead of the final whistle. When anyone in any area of life goes through a tough time that is when support is needed. YOU DO NOT WALK AWAY.
It is times like these when the club is working with a failing team of players that the cheering of the fans needs to be at its loudest. Loudest does not mean 75% of the fans walking out of the stadium ahead of the final whistle. If I were a player in a failing team who had just put out a rubbish performance fans deserting their seats would hardly inspire me to put passion into my game.
Passion ! Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is a club of passion. Win or lose I love my trips to Hillsborough and hope I bring some passion with me. Fans yesterday lacked the passion to inspire the team to do any better than it did.
How did they feel when seventy-five percent of the fans walked out ahead of the final whistle ?
If Sheffield Wednesday had a squad of players like these two people clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United could shut up shop and play cricket instead of football.
Next time the fans start chanting COME ON WEDNESDAY - COME ON WEDNESDAY someone needs to walk round and hand out mirrors so the fans can chant it to themselves.
Sheffield Wednesday IS the best football club in England. It has the best chairman, it has a fantastic stadium in a fantastic city, it has a superb backroom staff. The team is playing rubbish right new - SO WHAT ! The chairman could bring in any manager he wished but the best way to inspire the team is for the fans to get behind them 101% and SING THE BLUES.