A rise in Championship prominance by Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town has brought a smile to the face of one man in particular.
Andy Booth pulled on the different shades of blue and white for both clubs during a 17-year goals-laden career and nothing gives him more pleasure than to see the Owls and the Terriers pushing for promotion.
However, while Booth’s respect for Wednesday is true, he admits there’s only one team he wants to see pick up all three points when the sides meet at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Huddersfield are Booth’s first footballing love but last season as David Wagner’s side entered a period of transition under the German boss - whose first match came against Wednesday at Hillsborough in November - the man who spent ‘five fantastic years’ at Hillsborough says he was delighted to see his old side pushing for promotion to the Premier League. And he admits they were among the top three sides he say last season.
“I loved my time at Wednesday, I had five fantastic years there and really enjoyed it,” he said. “The fans were great with me and I scored a few goals in the Premier League and I was hoping last season they were going to get back up there.
“I watched them against Huddersfield at our place last season and I was so, so impressed by them; by the way they played, the type of football they played and I said after that I thought they were the third best side I had seen, after Burnley and Middlesbrough.
“I honestly thought they were going to go up, but unfortunately they fell just short, but it’s great to see them up there again and challenging.”
Few would have expected this fixture to come around with Huddersfield top of the table and according to Booth, the start to the campaign by his home-town club is down to one man.
“The manager (David Wagner) is superb,” Booth said. “Everything he does is brilliant - it’s hard work for the players but they are really enjoying it and the results are there for all to see.”
On Sunday’s televised game, he added: “It’ll be really tight and I’m really looking forward to it. We have got off to a great start and I suppose Wednesday fans would have expected better from them after last year, but I think they’ll improve.
“In Fernando Forestieri they have a superb player, a real livewire and I think what happened with him at the start of the season may have hampered things a bit but hopefully they’re over that now.
“There’s real quality in the team and they’ll be up there again at the end of the season and hopefully we’ll be joining them.”
WALKING FROM HILLSBOROUGH TO ‘HOME’
Andy Booth will be showing all the grit and determination that made him so popular with Huddersfield and Wednesday fans ahead of Sunday’s match. For the former striker will be taking part in a sponsored walk from ‘Hillsborough to home’ starting off, amazingly, at 3am and back to the John Smith’s Stadium in time for the game. It’s all part of the ‘Keep it up’ Campaign, to raise money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Huddersfield’s Academy. He said: “We’ve got 110 walkers doing it which is incredible, given that we start so early. It’s a great cause and I want to thank everyone for their support.
You can donate by going to justgiving.com/keepitupcampaign