300 and counting - Barry Bannan’s Sheffield Wednesday story in his own words

Barry Bannan has been through the wringer at Sheffield Wednesday…

Sunday, 27th March 2022, 5:52 pm

He’s scored belters, dazzled crowds, helped the Owls to the brink of the Premier League and felt the devastation of relegation – the Wednesday skipper is also determined to add promotion to that list.

As free transfers go, Bannan’s been pretty good value for money.

In 300 games in Owls colours he’s racked up 48 assists, scored 21 goals, and played 35+ matches in all but one of his seasons at Hillsborough. He’s Mr. Dependable.

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It didn’t take long for fans to take to him as he came runner-up in the Player of the Season vote in his debut campaign, and from the start the feeling was mutual.

“I actually didn’t know how big they were until I came,” he told The Star. My first game for the club was against Burnley away, and there was an unbelievable following there.

“So after that I started to ask questions, and I remember saying to Glenn Loovens one day, ‘I didn’t know it was this big’. He told me all about the amazing fans and the club. It's good to find out what a club’s culture and the city’s all about – it’s a hard working city, so the fans want to see that from their players on the pitch… I think our fans like to see people giving their all, and they like to see passion. People who aren’t happy to lose.

Barry Bannan has now played 300 games for Sheffield Wednesday.

“You start to get a feeling about what the club is about when you come here, and for me I remember speaking to people like Glenn and Lee Bullen about it. I had a good feeling about it, and I knew if I gave my all and the other side of my game came out then they’d take to me.

“It’s been the best six or seven years of my career so far, and that comes from playing games. It’s all I care about, I just want to play football - as long as I’m on a pitch I’m happy.”

And it’s safe to say that he’s pretty happy right now.

Bannan’s missed one game in League One all season, has already beaten his best ever goalscoring tally by reaching eight goals, and is three assists away from doing the same in that department after picking up nine so far.

Barry Bannan is having a great season for Sheffield Wednesday in 2021/22.

His daughter, Elsie, is now old enough to recognise his song being sung at Hillsborough – and has even adapted it with her own name – and his wife-to-be, Chloe, gets to see first-hand how much her future husband’s appreciated.

When asked about the chant being belted out by Wednesdayites - home and away - he replied, “It’s amazing… It makes you push that little bit more when you hear them singing your name as well. It gives you that bit extra…

“Chloe didn’t really know too much about football until she started coming to Sheffield Wednesday games, and when she hears people singing her future husband’s name it touches her as well… I’ve got a lot of love for this club, because they’ve shown it to me in abundance.”

But as happy as the Owls skipper may be on the pitch, League One was never part of the plan. On a summer’s afternoon in 2016 he and his Wednesday teammates were a game away from the Premier League – instead it turned into the ‘best worst day of my life’.

“Looking out onto Wembley Way and seeing it full of Wednesday before the game was amazing,” he remembered. “Obviously we couldn’t get the result, but that day will stay long in my memory.

“I tend to focus on the good stuff, with the crowd. But on the day as a team we could have done better – Hull were more experienced. To be that close and not get it is something that burns away in you, but we’re trying to put it right.”

Since then it’s been a rough ride for Wednesdayites, and the players who’ve stuck around as well.

After relegation to League One he could’ve gone. He was out of contract and the subject of plenty of interest, but from the minute the final whistle was blown at Derby County he seemed adamant to put try and put things right.

He clearly felt like he shouldered part of the blame for what happened – and this season he’s doing his very best to make amends for it. Victory over Cheltenham Town over the weekend in his 300th game means they’ll spend the weekend in the top six once again, and another dance with the lottery of the Play-Offs is a very real possibility.

This time, however, they’ll have a 32-year-old Bannan on their side who’s in the form of his life in terms of goal contributions, and his manager still thinks that he’s got more in his locker.

“I’m really pleased for Baz,” Darren Moore said as he hit the 300-game mark. “Reaching that amount of games for a club in this day and age is very, very rare because of the turnaround of players, so I’m delighted that he’s reached that milestone. And we want him to keep going.

“He’s having an exceptional season, and you can see that from his contribution, but we don’t want it to stop there, because he’s got plenty more work ahead of him.”

And Bannan’s never been afraid to work – you can see it by the miles he covers on the pitch and the way his teammates look up to him. He’s not done yet.

“I touched on it at the start of the season,” he told us recently. “I want to get this club back because I felt that I let them down last year by getting the club relegated as captain.

“I’m taking a lot on my shoulders to try and get them back, along with my teammates, and I won’t stop until I do that.”