Alan Biggs: Sheffield Wednesday can earn glory in United success

Alan Biggs
Alan Biggs
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Well, that was that then. The week a dream died. But another lives on. . . not that you would expect half of Sheffield to go rushing to embrace it.

Wednesdayites’ dread of Unitedites lording it in the semi-finals of the FA Cup – or even beyond – is part of what gives this football town such a keen edge, if you’ll pardon the pun over the Blades drawing blood on this occasion.

But I know for a fact – because I’ve met them – that there are some in blue and white, albeit a few, who wouldn’t altogether mind seeing the other lot galvanise the steel city now that their own hopes have been dashed.

For understandable reasons, they’ll have to keep quiet about that. They know who they are!

As a long-time supporter of a smaller neighbouring team, I’m not qualified to comment on the rights and wrongs of it all beyond expressing the hope that the surviving FA Cup team (and it would be the same in reverse) goes all the way.

You see, we’ve had too much of the other stuff in these parts and you can’t work this area for as long as this column has without developing some affection for ALL the local teams.

But I have got to wondering why Sheffield’s rivalry is so fiercely hostile, certainly in comparison to other cities of similar size.

One of my dad’s best friends was a staunch Evertonian and whenever his team fell by the wayside he would always openly express the hope that Liverpool would go further. You see, he was a Liverpudlian first and a football supporter second.

I saw this in action once after covering a league game at Everton on the same day Liverpool were playing an FA Cup semi-final.

It so happened that Liverpool had an earlier kick-off and won. As I drove away from Goodison, a convoy of cars carrying Liverpool fans were coming the other way back into the city.

Instead of attracting volleys of abuse from the Everton fans they passed, thumbs were raised and car horns tooted in salute to the rival fans. They tell me it’s standard behaviour on Merseyside.

A little of the same hereabouts, where families can be equally interwoven between red and blue, wouldn’t go amiss, much as it is probably a forlorn hope.

But the whole city can get a lift from just one team succeeding; the achievements of one can spur the other. That much is surely undeniable. Just as no-one from Stuart Gray downwards could argue that Wednesday did anything other than blow their big chance with an unaccountably feeble display in losing to Charlton.

That’s where I feel, as a warning to the future, too many loan players (of which there were four in the starting line-up on Monday) can count against a team. Regardless of their quality, there has to be a sense of unity in a side for it it to succeed.

Anyway, no apologies for wishing Nigel Clough’s team well. And Owls, remember this. You are a division higher and have the power to remain that way.