SHEFFIELD Wednesday are bidding to stop the rot Saturday tea-time at a familiar ground for two of Dave Jones’ backroom staff.
Fifthteen years ago, Owls assistant manager Paul Wilkinson and first-team coach Neil Thompson played big roles in Danny Wilson’s Barnsley side gaining promotion to the Premier League.
Now the duo will be aiming to put one over their former employers as 23rd-placed Wednesday, who have lost seven successive Championship matches, prepare for a crucial trip to Oakwell.
In his playing days, Wilkinson was a vastly experienced and much travelled centre forward. Having started his career at Grimsby before switching to Everton in March 1985, Wilkinson also plied his trade for Nottingham Forest, Watford, Middlesbrough and Barnsley.
When the Reds went up, he scored in a 2-0 win over Bradford City at Oakwell in the penultimate match of the season which sealed their promotion.
“That was a great season when Barnsley went up,” recalled Wilkinson. “Barnsley had not been expected to get anywhere near the Premier League. But it was a special time, a special moment, and it was Danny’s first job, so it was special for him as well. We had a really good time, a good squad, and the atmosphere in the club was fantastic.”
After turning his attention to coaching, Wilkinson began his association with Jones at Cardiff City, having previously coached at Leeds United and Grimsby Town.
He became Jones’ right-hand man at Hillsborough last summer after Terry Burton opted to re-join top flight heavyweights Arsenal. Wilkinson said promotion with Wednesday last season felt “just as good” as what he achieved at Barnsley.
He said: “We (the staff) were lucky (at Wednesday) because we came in at the back end of it. But promotion still had to be achieved. The players responded in the way we asked.”
When Jones replaced Gary Megson at the helm, he brought in Burton, Wilkinson and fitness expert Alex Armstrong.
Jones decided to retain Thompson’s services. The former defender, who joined the South Yorkshire club in February 2011, represented teams such as Hull City, Scarborough and Ipswich Town. Then, after hanging up his boots, the 48-year-old managed York City, Boston United and Scarborough before becoming academy manager at Leeds United.