Bandaged and bloodied – Sam Hutchinson’s last act a strangely fitting send-off at Sheffield Wednesday
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It is quite probably the biggest surprise of the three names settled in the ‘released’ column of Sheffield Wednesday’s retained list statement, released on Saturday morning.
Hutchinson, he of 207 Sheffield Wednesday appearances across two very finely split spells at the club, has had a line drawn under a love affair that had soaring highs and sinking lows.
Polarising? Perhaps, but few would argue he is one of the true fan favourites in the modern history of a club that, in truth, has had few.
The surprise comes in that all indications suggested he would hold talks with the club as to his future. Whether or not those talks took place and what occurred if they did is behind closed doors for now.
Including a half-season courtesy of his initial loan from Chelsea, the campaign just gone was Hutchinson’s ninth for Wednesday and the first he spent the majority of in central defence – the position he always maintained was his best.
As a midfielder in Carlos Carvalhal’s play-off sides he was a pugilist; crashing about, dictating play and racking up points at the bingo. His wholehearted tackling was everything every football fan wants to see from their midfielder.
As a defender he was more circumspect, his timing seemed better and with the game in front of him he seemed more in control despite the fact he was slapped with 10 yellow cards in 28 League One matches.
But at 32 and not quite able to shake the injury issues that almost had him retire a decade earlier, in terms of semantics his release is perhaps more of a surprise than a shock as Darren Moore looks to build a new future at the club.
What’s clear, unless things changed dramatically, is that the man who wore the captain’s armband in Barry Bannan’s occasional absence wanted the love affair to continue.
“I want to stay at the club and it is what it is,” he said back in January. “I’m not going to lie about it, I’m too old to lie. I’m happy here, I love the city, and me and my family bought into it as soon as we came here.
“I’ve always wanted to stay here. If they want me, I’ll stay, if it’s right for me and my family. And if not, at least I’ll be able to say a proper goodbye this time.”
It appeared in the early stages of that partnership at least that it would rise into the Premier League rather than League One, but here we are. And it ends with the final memory of him being helped off the field by a member of Wednesday’s medical team, Hillsborough on its feet to the chant of ‘Oh Sammy, Sammy’.
You suspect there’s a part of him that might rather enjoy that.