Wembley reflections - the dream lives on for Wednesday and their magnificent supporters

His team may have lost football's ultimate winner-takes-all battle but Carlos Carvalhal once again declared the giant had been awoken.

Monday, 30th May 2016, 7:49 am
Updated Monday, 30th May 2016, 9:13 am
41,00 Owls fans at Wembley...Pic Steve Ellis

Sheffield Wednesday will not be playing Premier League football next season. But there is a genuine belief they will be sooner rather than later.

Such belief was on show in an incredible manner on Saturday - plus a great deal of pride.

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And it is this giant that has truly been awoken. It is all well and good filling the team with quality players and delivering results, but backing from supporters who have bought into the movement is essential.

The weight of disappointment from the best part of 16 years could have made some anxious and nervous as they awaited the one-shot Wembley game to return to the promised land.

But it simply was not the case. Optimism abounded but expectations remained well contained.

It allowed for a party atmosphere which began on the streets of central London on Friday night and continued into the early hours of Sunday morning, reaching its crescendo inside Wembley Stadium early on Saturday evening.

Owls fans at Wembley...pic Steve Ellis

On a day when their team failed to turn up, there could have been no doubts about the presence of Wednesday supporters.

Significantly outnumbering those from Hull, they sang from start to finish, generating an incredible amount of noise and causing the national stadium to literally bounce.

They had goosebumps rising on arms and hairs standing on the back of necks in the countdown to kick off. Close to 40,000 Wednesdayites were in unison and it was a wondrous sight to behold.

The noise rarely abated throughout the game and it dragged Wednesday though when they needed it the most. If only the performance on the pitch would have matched the support from the stands.

Owls fans at Wembley...pic Steve Ellis

Hull boss Steve Bruce confessed he thought the ‘absolutely magnificent’ Wednesday support might be the difference between the two sides as the game wore on.

Certainly, for a good period of the second half, it seemed as though Wednesdayites would suck the ball into the goal, such was the overwhelming and unrelenting noise they created.

It all came from belief and confidence in what their side does and has the potential to do.

And it was a belief that refused to die even after Mo Diame’s stunning strike killed the Owls’ Premier League hopes.

Carvalhal was in tears as he led his team on a lap of honour in front of supporters, just as Hull climbed the steps to the royal box.

It would have taken the most stoic of men to not be moved by the reception received after what was ultimately a highly disappointing performance.

Wednesday failed to turn up in the manner which has become expected of them.

But they were showered with applause and song by tens of thousands of supporters keen to show them love despite true celebrations taking place at the opposite end of the ground.

The ovation was not for the performance over the preceding 90 minutes. It came at the culmination of a brilliant, unexpectedly successful campaign.

The ultimate prize ultimately evaded Wednesday. But the pride felt by supporters was no more diminished.

The facts are simple. Wednesday delivered their best season since relegation from the Premier League 16 years ago. And they did so by playing an entertaining brand of attacking and aggressive football, led by some quality individuals but also a great team ethic.

It brought a play-off place and a spot in the final against a Hull side keen to return to the top flight at the first attempt.

What was there to not be proud of?

It will be difficult to shake the pang of disappointment at Wednesday not being at their best. Had they produced something close to that, they would likely have triumphed at Wembley.

But the bigger picture is a much brighter one. After this season, Wednesdayites believe again. Like their head coach, they are dreaming and the dream is not so far away from becoming a reality.

Saturday’s result was not the end. It was simply the end of the beginning.

The touchpaper has been lit and it is now about awaiting the explosion of potential into success at a brilliant football club.

Whether the bomb goes off in the next 12 months remains to be seen.

All we know is Wednesday are on their way.