Owls of delight as Sheffield crowds defy the clouds

Owls in the Park...Sheffield wednesday Community Day in Hillsborough Park...Owls Gar Madine signs Yoann Sillery's shirt
Owls in the Park...Sheffield wednesday Community Day in Hillsborough Park...Owls Gar Madine signs Yoann Sillery's shirt
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ANYONE would think their team had won promotion...

Before a competitive ball is even kicked on Leppings Lane the feelgood factor was back for Sheffield Wednesday and a staggering 12,000 of its fans as the club held a family fun day ahead of the new season.

With the blue half of the city promoted to the Championship at the last gasp of last season, there were extra pats on the back and requests for autographs for the Owls’ key players.

Owls In The Park gave many fans their first opportunity to meet some of manager Dave Jones’ summer signings as well as pose for photographs with their favourite players and club chairman Milan Mandaric.

It all followed SWFC’s open day at the ground last summer. That drew 5,000 fans so, in conjunction with Sheffield Council, it was decided to host an even bigger event across the road from the ground at Hillsborough Park.

The initial gathering had to be postponed until this weekend because of appalling weather earlier this month, but for match regulars like Len Green the disappointment was swiftly forgotten.

“Like a lot of people I’m still on a high after seeing the lads go up and out of Division One at last,” said the plumber from Walkley.

“They left it until late in the season but thanks to the influence of our manager and a certain other team fluffing their lines we’re back and heading in the right direction.”

While a few other fans talked of going for Premiership glory in the new season, many were simply happy to get their new home shirts signed by some of the players who got the team a league closer.

While the face painters didn’t seem to be offering a Dave Jones lookalike option, an inflatable pitch supplied by SWFC’s Community Programme meant some amateurs could put their money where their feet were in a game and a penalty shoot-out.

And the only talk of ‘the sack’ was in the middle of the park where young fans took part in a sack race.

Dance displays, live music, a fun fair as well as a petting zoo and some real owls meant not all the talk was of football - for a while, at least.

Occasional sunshine may have been punctuated by showers but the smiles on the faces of Brenda Packer and her two lively nephews were among those lighting up the afternoon.

“How can we not be happy?” said the former canteen worker from Mosborough, in the queue for an autograph.

“The Olympics have given us all a lift and Wednesday are back in the Championship.

“It’s a good time to be British – and from Sheffield.”