Last Saturday can be seen as something of a rarity in Sheffield football circles – it was the first time that both Wednesday and United have won their opening games in nearly a quarter of a century!
United and Wednesday both chalked up 2-0 wins against Oldham and Rochdale respectively last weekend, much to the joy of supporters who have had to put up with some pretty miserable starts in the past.
But you have to go way back to the 1988/89 season (Paul McCartney was singing ‘Back in the USSR’ and ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ was on at the cinema), to when such a first-day double last occurred.
Then, the Owls were in the old First Division, and overcame Luton Town 1-0 at Hillsborough, whilst the Blades won 3-1 at Reading in the old Third Division on the same day. That win at Reading’s old Elm Park started a memorable first full season in charge for Dave Bassett. In what was also United’s centenary year, Bassett led the team to immediate promotion back to the Second Division, finishing second on 84 points.
United also racked up 93 goals in that year. Only Wolves and Chelsea (96) were more prolific than the Blades in the entire country that season.
As for Wednesday, their campaign was to be a transitional one, with Howard Wilkinson, Peter Eustace and Ron Atkinson all holding fort over the course of the season. After starting off with that narrow win over Luton, the Owls’ form fluctuated and at one point in the season they went on a 12 match winless run, spanning between December ‘88 and March ‘89.
They eventually ended up in 15th place and narrowly avoided relegation by finishing just three points off the drop zone.