SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: The people’s game

Happy band: Wednesday fans show their delight at Brentford, where a 2-1 win took the fight to the season's final day.         Picture: STEVE ELLIS
Happy band: Wednesday fans show their delight at Brentford, where a 2-1 win took the fight to the season's final day. Picture: STEVE ELLIS
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SATURDAY’S promotion decider will see the biggest gathering of Wednesday fans since the 2005 play-off final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

A following of 40,000 watched the Owls beat Hartlepool 4-2 on the last occasion that the club went up to the Championship.

Home areas of Hillsborough this weekend will be packed with more than 37,000 supporters as Dave Jones’ side seek the win that would seal automatic promotion from League One.

There will be an away contingent of only a few hundred, with little demand from Wycombe after their relegation.

An extra 6,000 tickets were put on sale by the Owls yesterday and they quickly sold out.

The additional places were freed once Wycombe’s situation became known, and after talks with local safety officials.

Wednesday were given permission to seat home fans in the upper and lower tiers of the West Stand, which is normally the away end.

Wycombe have been allocated part of the rarely-inhabited north-west corner of the ground, which holds 1,200 but will not all be used.

The capacity for this game will be around 37,500. The Sheffield derby in February attracted a sell-out 36,364 - the highest League One crowd of the season so far - but for which some seats in the North and South stands were left empty for segregation reasons.

This Saturday’s attendance will

be one the club’s highest in many years in terms of the number of home fans present.

The derby against United in April, 2001, attracted 38,433 but the Blades brought a customary big following. The relegation decider against Crystal Palace in May, 2010, drew 37,121 but around 6,000 of those were Eagles fans.

Wednesday also had bumper crowds in the Premier League - for example 39,640 for the 2000 visit of Manchester United but they brought a large following.

The Owls currently top the League One attendance table with an average of 20,575.

Manager Dave Jones, a former Everton player, has been at Hillsborough when it held more than 50,000 for an FA Cup semi-final.

“If there are nearly 38,000 there it will be exactly the same atmosphere,” he said, believing that the crowd can play their part as the Owls bid to clinch second place ahead of United.