Why Sheffield Wednesday association nearly ended in a fight for Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom has revealed he nearly got in to a fight back home in Barnsley when he signed for arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
Born and bred in Barnsley, the Reds’ gaffer joined the Owls back in 2004 before going on the represent his boyhood club.
And the 40-year-old understands fully what the derby means to the both sets of fans.
He said: “I nearly got into a fight in town in my first week at Wednesday with someone I knew as well.
“There were some fools knocking about, but the rivalry’s what it is.
“For most Barnsley fans this is the biggest one. We know it’s a big game, people enjoy it.
“We know a lot of Wednesday fans and Barnsley fans work together. I walked in to two fans arguing about it on Wednesday in Buildbase.
“They saw me walk in and they didn’t say owt for a while and then they started talking about it again.
“It’s a really good game, which everyone looks forward to.
“Both games were really good last season, jam packed with incidents, stuff off the club between clubs which made things even better.”
The Reds will head to Hillsborough for the big derby tomorrow at possibly the best time to face the Owls, with Carlos Carvalhal’s side having lost four of their last five.
But Heckingbottom insists the ‘wounded animal’ could well come out fighting, just like they did at Leeds United.
Heckingbottom added: “I think Wednesday are not in the best of form in terms of results, but again they’re like a wounded animal.
“In the Leeds game they came out fighting and looked a really, really good side.
“It’s not gone well for them again since, but we honestly don’t pay attention to that. It’s about what we do.
“We’ve got enough on our hands to keep trying to improve what we’re doing.
“We’ve got to try to compete with these sides with the money and the big players, the big salaries and we know we can.
“They shouldn’t be higher up the league because they’re not winning.
“It doesn’t matter about stats or anything, they deserve to be where they are and we deserve to be where we are.”
For many of Heckingbottom’s players it will be their first experience of the high-profile derby.
And the manager admits it would be ideal if the players knew how important the game is.
He said: “I would have preferred it if everyone did know what the game was about.
“It would be one less sort of thing to worry about to know they understand about the game, the atmosphere and what the possibilities are.
“If we do well it could be flat, Wednesday get their tails up at some point you’ve got to deal with that noise and that roar.”