Alex Miller: Simple acts of kindness show this Sheffield Wednesday are a likeable lot

It’s the simple things, they say.

Thursday, 30th June 2022, 5:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th June 2022, 5:05 pm

And when Barry Bannan went for a coffee after training this week – the Leppings Lane Costa if you’re interested – he performed the sort of simple act of kindness that he has become known for as the poster boy of the Wednesday family.

Gary Doncaster, a 60-year-old retiree who will be recognisable to many having spent 41 years driving buses around Sheffield, was enjoying a hot drink with old colleagues in the same cafe and plucked up the courage to ask the Wee Scottish Man for a photograph. Barry, as he always does, duly obliged.

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Sheffield Wednesday captain Barry Bannan spent a little time with Owls supporter Gary Doncaster.

The only thing saving this from being the polite, routine interaction Bannan and his teammates oblige in every day was the fact that Gary has Parkinson’s disease.

“My hands were shaking,” Gary told The Star. “They can shake normally but it’s worse when I’m a bit nervous and I was; he’s a great player and I like him. He’s my favourite because he’s a left-footer like I was.

“Without thinking he asked me very respectfully if I’d like him to take the photo for me and he did. He was great, he thanked me for my support and went on his way. He was so natural and calm with me and couldn’t do enough for me. You hear so many stories like that about Barry.”

The grumpy so-and-so’s that will no doubt comment on this piece on social media saying ‘I do nice things every day and don’t get an article out of it’ are in almost every way correct, of course. And small-time newspaper adulation is not why someone like Barry does things like that.

Neither Liam Palmer, who on Thursday evening completed a gruelling charity effort to raise cash for the son of a former Owls goalkeeper battling cancer.

Nor Callum Paterson and his various charity efforts, or new boy Will Vaulks who puts in countless hours at Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice. There are no doubt further examples we don’t know about.

The point is that Wednesday changing room appears to be filled with very likeable people; starting from Darren Moore, through his coaching staff – first team coach Wayne Jacobs runs a charity for underprivileged kids in Bradford – and to the players.

They appear to be taking their roles at the aspirational head of the Wednesday community seriously. Or perhaps they’re just a nice set of lads.

That’s not that the occupants of previous Wednesday changing rooms weren’t, of course. But there are half-whispered stories of one or two players past not being, shall we say, the most accommodating around the club or the most polite at certain points.

All players will have their moments, we all do. But as Gary says, this lot seem altogether more grounded somehow. Maybe.

“It was nice to see someone like that be so nice and natural with me,” he said. “He couldn’t do enough.

“Barry comes across as someone who really cares about the fans. It was only for a minute or so but it made my day. He didn’t have to do that.”

The notion that ‘nice guys finish last’ is utter nonsense. Wednesday fans will hope they can finish first – though second will also do – this time out.