Ahead of Wednesday night’s eagerly-anticipated Capital One Cup 3rd round clash between Sheffield Wednesday and holders Manchester City at the Etihad, we look at FIVE players who have turned out for both clubs.
Given that he’s played for most of England’s clubs, it’s unsurprising that City and Wednesday are linked by the front man. Varadi began his professional career at Sheffield United having been picked up by Blades boss Harry Haslam from non-league Letchworth in 1979. He didn’t stay long (10 appearances) but would find himself back in Sheffield in 1983 when he began the first of two spells at Hillsborough. It was there that he would have one of his more fruitful goalscoring periods and on finding the net 17 times, helped the Owls win promotion back to the top flight. Another 16 goals in the First Division the following season would see him regarded as one of the top strikers in the country at the time. However he would soon be on the move again and in 1985 made an ill-fated transfer to West Brom who would be relegated. In a bid to maintain his status as a First Division player Varadi moved to Man City where he would become something of a cult hero. The inflatable banana craze at Maine Road in the late 80s was inspired by the striker who had, inexplicably, been christened Imre Banana by the City faithful. City, too, however, went down that year and Varadi was brought back to Hillsborough, where his second stay was nowhere near as successful and in 1990 he moved on to Leeds.
Having begun his career at Plymouth Argyle in 1977 before making an ultimately disappointing switch back up north to Everton, Manchester-born midfielder Megson signed for Wednesday in 1981, the club where his father, Don, rightly holds legendary status. He was part of that memorable 1984 promotion winning team which brought an end to the Owls prolonged top-flight exile. After three seasons and 153 appearances Megson was signed by Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest before being quickly shipped out just a few months later having been publicly criticised by Clough who claimed he ‘couldn;t trap a bag of cememnt’. A spell at Newcastle lasted just a season, too, and he was soon back at Wednesday where he would again make over 100 appearances in the blue and white stripes. In January 1989 Howard Kendall forked out £250,000 to take Megson to Maine Road and there he would spend three years and turn out 95 times before a free transfer to Norwich. Megson would be back at Wednesday for a third time, in 2011, this time as manager, replacing Alan Irvine. However, despite sitting third in League One, Megson was sacked after a little over a year with chairman Milan Mandaric fearing that the team wouldn’t gain promotion back to the Championship under the manager’s stewardship.
Britain’s first £1m player arrived at Maine Road from Nottingham Forest in 1981 under a cloud of controversy with then boss John Bond having issued chairman Peter Swales with an ultimatum that if the club didn’t come up with the £1.2m asking price, he would walk. Eventually the purse strings were relaxed but Francis’ stay in Manchester was dogged by injury, just as it was at Forest and in striking contrast to these days at City, the club were struggling financially and couldn’t justify a large salary to a player who was missing so many games. After 26 appearances and 12 goals Francis then embarked on a somewhat nomadic existence, taking in spells at Sampdoria, Atalanta, Rangers, Queens Park Rangers (where he was player-manager) before hitching up at Hillsborough in 1990. Wednesday were relegated that season but did win the League Cup in 1991, shocking Manchester United in the final, with Francis an unused substitute. In the summer of ‘91, Francis replaced Ron Atkinson as manager, but was a registered player up until 1994 at the age of 39. Having led the team to FA and League Cup finals - losing both to Arsenal - and a third placed finish, Francis was surprisingly sacked as boss in 1994 after ending that campaign 13th.
Popular in both camps, the left back and set-piece specialist made his debut for City in the 1987/88 season and established himself in the side for the next three years. He made 112 appearances for City - the highlight being a goal in that famous 5-1 hammering of rivals United (25 years ago today) - before moving to Everton for £800,000. After eight years on Merseyside, an FA Cup winners medal and earning international recognition with England, Hinchcliffe was sold to Wednesday for £2.6m. Then 29, Hinchcliffe would spend four injury-interrupted years at Hillsborough before being forced to retire after suffering a knee injury in his final match against Crewe Alexandra in January 2002. He made just shy of 100 appearances and won three of his seven England caps while at Hillsborough.
Sheffield lad Weaver signed for City from Mansfield Town as a teenager and earned rave reviews in the early years of his career, picking up England under 21 caps. As City fell down the divisions he was a regular in the team and is remembered fondly for his penalty shoot-out heroics at Wembley when his save from Gillingham’s Guy Butters, having already denied Paul Smith, saw the Citizens promoted in the Second Division (now League One) Play Offs. He was involved in another promotion the following season but as the years went by Weaver would eventually be playing second fiddle to a number of more experienced stoppers. He joined Wednesday on loan in 2004 and made 14 appearances for his boyhood club but two years later was number one again at City for a season, being given a chance when Andreas Isaksson picked up an injury before the season started. After spells at Charlton, Dundee United and Burnley (where he never played), Weaver was back at Hillsborough where he turned out 44 times before losing his place to Chris Kirkland. He is now back at the club again, this time as Academy goalkeeper coach.