Sports Retro: When Milan Mandaric’s huge gamble paid off ... May 5, 2012 - Dave Jones delivers promotion for Sheffield Wednesday

Miguel Llera is held aloft by owls fans aftere their promotion was confirmed
Miguel Llera is held aloft by owls fans aftere their promotion was confirmed
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As league positions begin to be decided and promotions secured by some, we look back on the last time Sheffield Wednesday ‘went up’.

“It’s a fantastic feeling. I’m pleased for the chairman, I really am; I’m not just saying that because he pays my wages. He made a big call and i am just glad I repaid him. He deserves it. I think he’s disappointed I’ve dropped four points!”

That was Dave Jones, speaking on May 5, 2012 just after the Owls had secured promotion on the final day of the season.

And what a season it was.

Just over two months before victory over Wycombe Wanderers at Hillsborough ensured that Championship football was coming back to S6, chairman Milan Mandaric made that ‘big call’ as Jones described it.

Just days after beating city rivals Sheffield United, themselves targeting promotion, Mandaric took the incredible decision to sack manager Gary Megson with the Owls third in the table.

Michail Antonio celebrates the first goal

Michail Antonio celebrates the first goal

“We have 13 games to go of what is a critical season for our club, and this decision has been taken because I believe we have a better chance of achieving our key aim of promotion by making the change,” Mandaric said.

“I fully understand this may not be the most popular decision amongst our supporters but I ask them to trust me, as they have done so whole-heartedly during the time I have been at the club.

“Whilst we won what was a huge game last Sunday (against United), I have looked at results before that to reach the conclusion which I believe is the right one for now and the future of Sheffield Wednesday.”

Mandaric was desperate to get out of League One and was clearly willing to do anything and everything he possibly could to ensure that it happened.

Owls Chairman Milan Mandaric in the dressing room with Gary Madine

Owls Chairman Milan Mandaric in the dressing room with Gary Madine

There would be no messing about with the lottery of the play-offs; automatic promotion was essential.

And so, he turned to Jones who had guided Stockport County and Wolves to promotion as well as taking Cardiff City to the Play-Off Final.

It proved, despite objections from Owls fans who were angry that Megson, regarded as ‘one of their own’ having been a supporter and a player with Wednesday, to be a masterstroke.

Jones would see the season out with Wednesday unbeaten, kicking off with a 4-1 win over Bury and only dropping points against Walsall and Colchester United.

All smiles for Milan Mandaric and Dave Jones

All smiles for Milan Mandaric and Dave Jones

On the final day of the season Wednesday just needed to beat Wycombe to secure promotion, as the red and white half of the city hoped for a slip-up so they could nip into the automatic promotion positions.

Though the Blades themselves dropped points against Exeter, it wouldn’t matter as goals from Michail Antonio and Nile Ranger sparked incredible scenes at Hillsborough with promotion back to the Championship confirmed.

“You see the fan base and the infrastructure ... there won’t be many teams in the Premier League that can fill 38,000 home seats,” Jones told The Star.

“The club itself deserves to be in the Premier League. It’s just whether you get a team that deserves it. That’s the hard part.”

He added: “The chairman has been nothing but supportive. I wasn’t going to come here to say to him I was going to stabilise the club in League One.

“My remit was promotion. He asked me if I could deliver it and I said yes.”

Soaking for Owls Manager Dave Jones

Soaking for Owls Manager Dave Jones

Now, five years on, the hope for Wednesdayites is they can now make the next step up.

Jose Semedo with his brother Vitor

Jose Semedo with his brother Vitor