More than 100,000 Wednesdayites lined the streets of Sheffield on Sunday, May 15, 1966 to welcome home the players and staff after their hard-fought attempt to bring back the FA Cup.
This was the culmination of two weeks of ‘Cup Final fever’ that had seized the blue half of Sheffield. The rush for a small number of tickets had started this off at the beginning of the month.
On May 3, the club announced applications would be required for the 9,000 tickets that were being placed on general sale. The following day around 80,000 applications flooded in to the club and a further 20,000 arrived before the deadline on Friday, May 6. Of this outpouring of support, the Owls’ general manager and secretary Eric Taylor said: “It’s fantastic, just fantastic.”
Sheffield post office and those in the surrounding area were also swamped by Wednesday fans wanting 10 shilling postal orders for the cost of a coveted ticket. Approximately 7,000 were sold in a hectic six-hour spell after the plan was released from Hillsborough.
The demand for a place at the final led to ‘ticket spivs’ commanding a high price for tickets that found their way on to the black market. Those costing 10s could be bought for £10, while a ticket for a seat had been quoted at £17 10s against the 32s 6d face value.
However, some generosity was shown to people who missed out through the official channel. White Star Football Club of the Harringay, Tottenham and District League sent their ticket to the Wednesday’s Supporters’ Club so a fan could go to the match.
Supporters’ club secretary Reg Crapper said: “It’s a magnificent gesture. What a marvellous sporting attitude. We are very grateful to White Star.
“Someone in our supporters’ club is going to be absolutely delighted.”
Also making his way to the final was 13-year-old Stephen Wraith, who had seen the Owls progress through every round, which had all taken place away from home.
The young fan was delighted when a United supporter answered an advertisement he had placed in The Star for two tickets and agreed to sell them to him for their normal price.
Those who made the journey to the capital were no doubt left disappointed with the result. After being 2-0 up, Sheffield Wednesday were stunned as Everton scored three second-half goals to clinch the famous trophy.
Nevertheless, fans turned out in force to demonstrate their appreciation for the effort expended by all concerned. The scenes were described in The Star as being the liveliest the city had seen since the end of the Second World War.
The official party, consisting of 180 staff members from the charwomen and backroom boys to players, their wives and board members, returned to Midland station on a normal service train on Sunday and were greeted by a large throng.
The group then boarded several coaches for the procession to the Town Hall where all were welcomed by Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress Ald and Mrs Jack Worrall.
Members of the council and sports personalities from the city also attended the function.
As the Owls’ normal team coach had been in London for the final and could not be returned on time, a brand new coach was prepared, with a platform for the players on the roof, at Sheffield United Tours of Charlotte Road.
The firm’s coach painters worked hard to change the colour from red and grey to the blue and white of Wednesday.
As a reward for the service performed on reception day, the new coach was to stay in the Owls colours while undertaking duties during the summer months before returning to its standard livery.
From thye railway station, the procession headed along Leadmill Road to Suffolk Road, then taking St Mary’s Road and St Mary’s Gate to the Moor.
The party was then led through Charles Street and Norfolk Street to the Town Hall. After the reception the procession continued to Hillsborough.
The first roar from the crowd occurred when driver Bert Oxley took the bus out of the station car park. There were chants of “the best team lost” from the crowd.
Then a section chanted “Mobley, Mobley, Mobley” for defender Vic Mobley, who unfortunately missed out on the final after being injured during the semi-final against Chelsea.
The welcome from the supporters left many of the Wednesday players very emotional and quite visibly moved. The team did their best to return every smile cheer and wave from their admirers.
Along the route fans were perched on roofs, clinging to the top of lamp posts or hanging from windows.
Around 30,000 massed outside the Town Hall to see their heroes. However, much of the speeches given by the Lord Mayor, captain Don Megson and manager Alan Brown were drowned out by the crowd.
But the latter was able to say to them: “We will try to go one better next year.”
On the club’s part, there was some trepidation as to what reception they would receive from the fans, having not won the final.
Yet the reception was said to have been one of the most heartwarming gestures many had experienced and nearly made up for the disappointment of not bringing the cup back to the city.