Meet the Sheffield Wednesday-mad fan who follows the Owls from Down Under
You can take the man out of S6, but you can’t take S6 out of the man.
That certainly is the case for Wednesday-mad supporter Neil Dunne who emigrated to Adelaide in Australia in 2008.
For when police officer Neil and his wife Debra moved their young family to start a new life Down Under, you’d think there would be a number of home comforts they would miss from their favourite TV shows to a night out at their local.
But not for Neil.
No, the only thing he truly misses about the UK is watching the Owls from the Kop – and being 10,000 miles away hasn’t diminished his passion for them.
“Me and my son Harvey talk about football and Sheffield Wednesday all the time in the house,” says the 43-year-old, who works as a prosecutor for South Australia Police.
“His bedroom is fully decked out in Sheffield Wednesday souvenirs and memorabilia.”
In fact, he and 16-year-old Harvey are so loyal to the Wednesday cause they get up in the middle of the night to watch their heroes in action.
“They do have football coverage over there, so when we’re on Sky it will be live over there as well,” says Neil.
“Whatever time of day or night they’re on we’ll just watch them. Obviously when iFollow came out two or three years ago that made a massive difference because we just paid for a season pass and we can watch every game home or away.
“It tends to be a one or two o’clock in the morning. The evening games tend to be five or six o’clock in the morning.
“Social media and things like that have certainly been a massive assistance too. I’m constantly checking my phone, tweeting about Wednesday. It’s great seeing everybody’s opinions.
“It’s definitely a lot easier now to follow them over there than what it was initially. The only thing I miss about not being in the UK is going to the games if I’m being honest!”
He got the chance to see Wednesday in action against Brentford and Derby this week during a short stay back in Britain to see his family and daughter Leoni, 19, who is spending a gap year in this country.
“We went on Saturday and saw all the players coming in and Harvey had his green away shirt signed by Kadeem Harris,” says Neil, who is originally from Halifax.
“He bought the home shirt and got (Massimo) Luongo put on it because obviously he’s Australian and he got him to sign that as well, so I think they’re his favourite two players at the minute.”
Neil, whose love of Wednesday came from his father David, was taken to his first game at Hillsborough when he was ‘five or six’ and grew up watching the likes of Mel Sterland and Gary Shelton from his favourite vantage point on the Kop in the 80s.
And like most Wednesdayites he looks back with great fondness on the Owls sides managed by Ron Atkinson and Trevor Francis in the early 90s.
“The League Cup final in ‘91 when we beat Man United with Sheridan scoring is a fantastic memory – and even in the later stages (before we emigrated) I went to the play off final against Hartlepool in 2005. That was a great day out too,” he says.
Neil bleeds blue and white and even has a sleeve tattoo along his left arm which pays homage to his Wednesday allegiance and is often a conversation starter among locals.
“To be honest some don't know who Wednesday are,” says Neil, who is a football coach Down Under. “Everyone asks why are they called that and we give them the story every time about them being a cricket club who used to play on Wednesdays and all the history about it.”
He even has a blue car which has a SWFC personalised registration plate, while the Christmas tree in the family home back in Angle Vale near Adelaide is decorated in Wednesday colours.
“We’re just Sheffield Wednesday mad,” laughs Neil.