Alex Miller: One small step for man.. there's an opportunity here for Sheffield Wednesday
Summer, 2021. Let’s say late July. The sun bakes down on South Yorkshire as Sheffield Wednesday supporters make their way to Hillsborough for the first time in nearly 18 months.
It’s a pre-season friendly and an emotional occasion. Mothers and fathers hold the hands of their sons and daughters, groups of friends wander from pub beer gardens talking about the Owls’ season ahead, starting with the afternoon’s opposition, whoever they may be.
From Penistone Road, from Middlewood Road, from the city centre and from far, far further afield, Wednesdayites shuffle towards their blue and white place of worship. They have a number of new signings to look forward to and yes, they are still in the Championship.
The charismatic new Wednesday manager, whoever he may be, is approaching his first full season at S6 having steered the club to safety playing open, attractive football in the second half of the season. Dejphon Chansiri and advisors are praised for their smart, diligent recruitment process.
Barry Bannan, Adam Reach and Tom Lees signed new contracts. Liam Shaw, too, and together with a handful of the other Owls youngsters, he’s doing great. A revamped recruitment process has delivered exciting results.
They’re all in the midst of a long, hot summer. A few weeks earlier, England lifted the European Championships and passing over the South Stand bridge, Wednesdayites notice dolphins diving in and out of the glistening River Don.
Too far?! It was the mention of decent summer weather, wasn’t it?
Given the events of the past year, it would be difficult to make any realistic forecast of what the world will look like in July, let alone the world of Sheffield Wednesday. We remain on pause for the meantime, patiently waiting for a post-vaccine world of hugs and somewhere-near-full capacity stadia. We can but hope.
And it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What if among all the hardship and all the tragedy, this societal pause can in some way, somehow lead to something good for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club?
The club’s announcement this week that they were to embark on a new effort to engage with supporters is a hugely positive step forward in repairing the divisions that have existed between some sections of the terraces and the boardroom for too long. An initial meeting will take place this weekend. One small step for man and all that.
In 2021, Wednesday are unbeaten. They have an opportunity to get a fresh and exciting manager in the door, one that can provide a fresh and exciting way of doing things. The opportunity for the squad rebuild that Garry Monk and Tony Pulis spoke of is still open.
Off the field, with Hillsborough effectively closed for business, there’s an opportunity to give the place a lick of paint. Wouldn’t it be nice for supporters to walk back into something new, when that time comes?
Mistakes have been made and there are major issues, not least a relegation battle, that need to be overcome.
Let’s face it, nobody is asking for dolphins in the Don. Progress is all that’s needed. In all the madness of the situation the world, and indeed Sheffield Wednesday find themselves in, there are opportunities to be had. It can start with just a meeting.