JAMES SHIELD: Are Donny dreaming the impossible?

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I’LL let you into a little secret.

There’s a long-standing joke in our office, (albeit one of those unlikely to raise a titter elsewhere), which sees expressions of common interest or sympathy between Sheffield’s two Football League clubs greeted with a chorus of four cheery words.

“Hands across the city.”

Neither Wednesday nor United have commented on John Ryan’s recent pronouncement about the state of the game beyond the confines of the Keepmoat Stadium. But I suspect, privately at least, officials at Hillsborough and Bramall Lane are both less than impressed with the Doncaster Rovers chairman’s latest communication.

Even when Kevin McCabe, his counterpart at United, was at his most bullish he shied away from openly discussing Wednesday’s affairs. Contenting himself instead with the odd insinuation.

Not so Ryan who, despite correctly calling the situation, seems happy to chat about the neighbours

An approach unlikely to go down too well in some nearby boardrooms.

“I think Sheffield United will be joining Wednesday in League One,” he told a rival newspaper last week. “I think United, if they go down, will have a heck of a job in League One to sustain things.

“They are in a heck of a mess.

“Maybe Wednesday are in a better position but I don’t think they are going to do anything this year.

“I predicted a year ago the demise of Sheffield football, it does not give me any satisfaction but I predicted it.”

Ryan, who has deservedly spent the past few years basking in the publicity created by Rovers’ rise to relative prominence, is determined to see Sean O’Driscoll’s side usurp their local rivals and become to dominant force in the region.

It is an admirable aim but one which, Talking Sport fears, he will never be able to truly achieve.

Privately, at least, he probably suspects as much himself. Especially having complained about the number of Doncaster residents who make a pilgrimage to watch Leeds every other weekend at Elland Road. Many of whom, will have witnessed their hometown club demolished 5-2 there on Saturday.

The sight of Wednesday and United, for all their present difficulties, still leaving Rovers in the shade when it comes to attendances must also stick in Ryan’s craw.

O’Driscoll may yet establish them as Premier League contenders. Find themselves on top of South Yorkshire’s sporting tree.

But they have long since lost the battle for hearts and minds.