Alan Biggs: Dejphon Chansiri MUST tap back into what Sheffield Wednesday are famous for
Historically Sheffield Wednesday fans always turn up when it counts. Suggestions that many wouldn’t turn up now, even if they could, are as damaging as the results tipping the Owls towards League One.
So the club’s move for more fan engagement is welcome, if not a solution until a clearer strategy (allowing for Covid difficulties) is in place.
Crowds (lack of) is an excuse any struggling team can offer up this season.
My gut feeling is the worst affected are those who were doing well when fans were cut adrift, in other words not this one.
But there’s always been this about Wednesday. When times are at their toughest, they turn up. In their droves.
This feels different and here’s where the club badly needs to communicate a plan, or change of approach in place of one that hasn’t worked for some time, to reconnect with the people who matter most.
You can hardly blame Owls followers for their disenchantment with a predictable decline
As their team, under a fourth manager of the season, hovers over the drop after six successive defeats, there is a lot to be dissatisfied about on and off the field.
Talk abounds of how supporters in the stadium would have got the message across; of how missing supporters, voting with their feet, would have done the same.
But here’s the thing. Wednesday, in hours of need, have never been deserted. Not in my memory. I hope the owner, whose investment and commitment cannot be overlooked, can find a way to tap back into this.
One of my earliest working games at Hillsborough was in April, 1976 when the Owls needed to beat Southend to be sure of staying in the third tier. They did - witnessed by 25,802.
This was a couple of years after an escape act a division higher as 23,000 celebrated a late Ken Knighton goal against Bolton.
Fast forward to 2008 and 36,208 cheered a 4-1 win over Norwich that secured survival in the Championship. Two years later, there were 37,121 anguished witnesses to relegation to League One, confirmed by a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
Five years on, an astonishing travelling support of more than 40,000 saw the Owls bounce back with promotion in a play-off final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
A recent Sheffield Star survey asked supporters whether, if the pandemic suddenly ended, they would go back for the next home game. Only just over half said yes.
But there is an historic level of dedication and devotion that hasn’t simply gone away. It’s there still, however stretched and pushed into the background.
When supporters claim “ownership” of the club, this is what they mean. It’s not literal but, in heart and soul, it’s absolutely true.
Sadly, it’s likely Hillsborough will remain an echo chamber when Wednesday wind up their home season against Nottingham Forest on May 1st.
It’s potentially a must-win game. To suggest that 30,000 plus wouldn’t be there if crowds were allowed back to that level is quite a stretch.
I’m not entirely sure there wouldn’t be.
Again, it wouldn’t be in support of the way the club has been run in recent times. But, without wishing to go too deep, love conquers everything.