Alex Miller: Whatever happens to Sylla Sow, it’s time to all hail the true cult heroes of Sheffield Wednesday

Cult hero (noun); a writer, musician, artist, or other public figure who is greatly admired by a relatively small audience or is influential despite limited commercial success.

Thursday, 4th August 2022, 6:00 pm

In other words; the one-man Sheffield Wednesday phenomenon that is Sylla Sow.

Is he gone, is he staying? Shake it up, baby.. it could go either way.

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If Sylla Sow should leave Sheffield Wednesday, he does so with a fond cult hero reputation among fans.

But if he does leave S6 – it feels a bit like it might well happen – he leaves a legacy of enthusiastic runs, a killer outing against Newcastle United’s youth team and one of the catchiest Wednesday chants in a little while.

He won’t be thought of in the same breath as David Hirst or Chris Waddle; in fact their names probably shouldn’t be whispered in the same hallway.

But such is the quirks of British football that somehow the Dutch Senegalese attacker of limited ability is loved by a bunch of football supporters in Sheffield partly – if we’re really, brutally honest – of what he couldn’t do rather than what he could.

Celebrating greatness isn’t what cult heroism is about. Sow and Nuhiu and Blinker and Rudi are all hugely talented footballers and this column is written with no disrespect whatsoever.

But you’ve got to suspect they’ll each admit themselves their contribution to Sheffield Wednesday’s history fell some way short of those of Hirst and Waddle.

Atdhe Nuhiu might be the biggest Wednesday cult hero of modern times if indeed that is how he should be categorised – having made 277 appearances, perhaps ‘modern icon’ is more fitting.

The thing is he didn’t look like a footballer, he wasn’t exactly prolific, but there were moments in which he was a little bit world class. Above all, he loved Sheffield Wednesday and you could see that in the way he played. For his limitations, for all the debate over exactly how much supporters should love him, supporters loved him.

In conversation with Michele Di Piedi a little while back, the definition of cult heroism had to be explained to him. At first it was a notion that seemed to offend him, but he soon came around it it when he realised it was a compliment.

“Ahh, English,” he said with the sort of handsome shrug and smile combination you’d expect. It seems to be a very British concept.

There’s Reda Johnson, Lawrie Madden, Emerson Thome, Andy Pearce, Kim Olsen.

What about Paul Williams, Jermaine Johnson, Lee Peacock, Phil King?

If Sow does up and leave, what about a fellow one-season striker who would surely count Sheffield Wednesday as the biggest and brightest opportunity of his career?

“What they'd seen was a 32-year-old striker who left everything on the pitch,” Ryan Lowe told us on his undoubted cult hero status – brought about in his mind by a working man’s touch. “I fought for them and knew what those fans were about.”

The constants threading all these names together? Effort, honesty and a visible joy for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.

Hirst and Waddle have their places in the Wednesday hall of fame. But for mere mortals, there’s a corridor on the way that carries the names of a few likely lads.

Shake it up, baby.