Trouble for S6

The days of Italian masters Benito Carbone and Paolo Di Canio strutting their stuff on the turf at Hillsborough, sporting the blue and white stripes, seem a distant memory for the desperate fans situated on S6.

The stereotypical soul and passion injected into Italian footballers were illustrated by the pair, as well as their energetic characters, sharp tempers and undoubted talents. The two graced the Premiership in the 1990s with a style and flair that has since become the focal-point of foreign imports in English football.

Ardent Wednesdayites do not require a trip down memory lane, but from an outside point of view, illustrious names such as Carbone and Di Canio are a stark indication of how the mighty have fallen over the past decade.

Hillsborough is a magnificent stadium: the 11th biggest football ground in the country and can facilitate just short of 40000 people. The club is the protracted ‘sleeping giant’, as they languish in League One.

Languishing in League One, though, may well be considered a blessing currently, as the Owls suffered another home defeat at the hands of Brentford last night and slipped further closer to the mire of League One’s relegation zone.

Gary Megson, who took the reins from Alan Irvine in early February, has not won a league game at home during his brief tenure so far, and based on last night’s anaemic showing a win looks a lower league away.  

14000 descended to the ground – including a staggering low turnout of away fans – on a mild evening in South Yorkshire, but as the game got underway you could be forgiven for thinking the game was being played out behind closed doors in arctic conditions.

To see such an iconic stadium as sombre and incapacitated was a miserable experience sitting from the press box. As the game ran its course, the fans began to wake up and song tried to escape from the Kop, but as Brentford restored their lead shortly before half time, the spurring signing diverged into berating booing.

The Wednesday fans made their feelings crystal clear at the referee’s sounding for the interval and muttering of League Two football next season commenced. The half time pie and bovril can’t have gone down well. 

Megson introduced Jamaican international Jermaine Johnson early in the second half, but despite the tricky winger’s blitzing pace and consummate ease of beating his full back, he couldn’t muster a breakthrough.

Brentford’s own super sub, Sammy Saunders, rubbed salt into the wounds for Wednesday as he placed a marvelous free kick into the bottom corner. The nail in the coffin triggered an onrush of Wednesday fans who rose from their seats and set about their respective, dissatisfied journeys home.

As the final whistle blew, more boos rang out from the home fans. As the few remaining fans departed the ground, the sense that this ‘sleeping giant’ could be playing in the Football League’s bottom tier next season is fast becoming a worryingly strong possibility.

Wednesday have two crucial home games in quick succession, beginning with Colchester on Saturday. The club need the fans to be in full voice, the club need its players to bring their boxing gloves, as the fight for survival is now very much on the agenda.


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