Sheffield Wednesday: Long live the derby rivalry

Matty Fryatt celebrates a goal for Wednesday, watched by Connor Wickham
Matty Fryatt celebrates a goal for Wednesday, watched by Connor Wickham
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Watching last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final in a local pub room that happened to be full of Wednesdayites showed that the rivalry between Sheffield’s two clubs remains alive and well, writes Paul Thompson.

I’ve heard tales of of some Owls supporters wishing the Blades well, but I have to say that has not been my experience over the last few weeks,

So the cheers whenever Hull got a goal were exactly what I expected.

It would be just the same if it was Wednesday in a semi-final and Unitedites watching.

Long live this spicy flavour of Sheffield football.

Imagine how dull it would be if there was only one club in the city.

I know that every now and again someone raises the idea of a merger. It is a non-starter, for practical and historical reasons. One factor is the depth of the long-standing divide between the two sets of fans.

Ron Atkinson used to say that if you are one of two city rivals then you want them in the same division but with you beating them and staying above them.

Who knows how long it will be before Wednesday and United are playing each other again?

The Blades’ form under Nigel Clough suggests that they may be capable of reaching the Championship in the not too distant future.

Wednesday’s main focus over the last couple of years has of course been on making sure they did not end up back in League One.

But if the form in the second half of this season season under Stuart Gray was extended over the whole season then the club would be challenging for the top six.

Although the difference between many teams in the Championship is small, Wednesday still have a huge job to do this summer, with 13 players out of contract and five loan men currently in the squad.

Milan Mandaric knows that the squad needs improving - the outcome will depend on how strongly the club can compete with the division’s big guns.

One thing is for sure: they are staying up. I hope that Doncaster do so as well, and that Barnsley pull off a great escape. The more South Yorkshire derbies we have next season, the merrier. And here’s to the next Sheffield derbies, whenever they may be!