“My framed Regi Blinker poster has been in every flat I’ve owned!” - The Sheffield Wednesday story of Self Esteem’s Rebecca Taylor
Sheffield Wednesday aren’t quite where they were when Rebecca Taylor watched them smash seven goals home in the FA Cup but the Self Esteem singer’s soft spot for the Owls hasn’t dwindled – whether it’s painting her face in Cardiff or sneaking a pair of Wednesday shorts into an upcoming music video.
In the latest edition of our chats with famous Wednesdayites, we tracked down the Sheffield-born singer to see where her SWFC story began – and why she’s still carting around a framed picture of former Owl, Regi Blinker.
“My dad was born and raised in Hillsborough,” Taylor told The Star. “So we were always a Wednesday family. My older brother lived and breathed it, and growing up I just wanted to do what he thought was cool!
“It was in 1997 when I went to my first game, an FA Cup game against Grimsby when we won 7-1. It set a precedent for me, that going to the football was really, really fun and that my team wins – like really win!”
Sadly though, that didn’t last… Before long their time in the Premier League had come to an end, but the singer says that the tough times as a Wednesdayite have made her appreciate the good times more.
“I can’t imagine it any other way, and when the wins happen now it’s all the more sweeter for us, isn’t it? I can’t imagine supporting a team that nails it every year – Sheffield Wednesday is like a microcosm for life for me!
“The club means so much to me, and it’s always nice when I walk out onto a stage in America or wherever, it’s a badge of honour for me to say where I’m from. It’s part of my identity as well – even though we’re not very good!
“I’ve played gigs in Wednesday shirts before quite a few times, and when I was in my old band I had a dress made out of Ozzie the Owl’s offcuts that I sent to a dressmaker.”
The old band that she speaks of, Slow Club, were formed in 2006, but it was the previous year that sticks in the memory of many an Owls fan – and Taylor is no different in that regard.
“We went to Cardiff for the Play-Off final, and it was just incredible,” she recalls, clearly revelling in the memory. “I went there with no expectations, really, and I just remember it all being very exciting.
“I hadn’t travelled to many away games, but we all went as a family – my dad, my mum and my brother – and I’d painted my face.
“It was a beautiful day, and I remember not thinking we were going to win. I went to enjoy it, and the fact that we did win made it genuinely one of the top 10 best moments of my life.
“I think that’s a good attitude to have in life really… If you have no expectations that things are going to go well, when they do - what bloody treat!”
It may well be the last trophy that Wednesday won, but none of that group of players quite captured young Taylor than a couple of Italians and a certain Dutchman in the early 90s…
“It was Carbone and Di Canio for me, and I had an obsession with Regi Blinker!,” she says when asked for her favourite players of all time.
“There was a glamour to those Italians… They were so sexy, and cool, and passionate. They were my first memories, but I really loved Blinker.
“I’ve got a framed poster, and every flat I’ve moved to I’ve taken it with me… When he left Wednesday, I remember caring so deeply at the time that I was actually in tears about it.”
Self Esteem’s new single will be out in April followed by a new album in August, and Taylor says that eagle-eyed fans should keep an eye out in one of her upcoming music videos.
“I just shot my new videos for my new record, and I’m wearing a bit of Wednesday gear in one of them…” she revealed. “Sheffield Wednesday has always been deep-rooted in my family, and I have a real love for it.”
And her love for the club, and her deep family connection, was one of the reasons that she got behind the Owls Against Racists cause - adding her name to a list of famous Wednesdayites who were determined to get all fans standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’.
For Taylor, she says it’s about joining the cause and trying to effect change – regardless of the sort of platform you might have.
She went on to say, “It was Joe Carnall that reached out to me… I try to do a lot on my own social media and in my work with regards to social change, and I don’t know much sway I have amongst Sheffield Wednesday fans, but it’s something definitely wanted to me involved in.
“As hard as the pandemic has been, the massive social justice movements are really exciting and really important. In football it’s been a problem for a long time, so let’s see what happens when football stadiums are full again. With hope in my heart there has been a dent put into it.
“For every five fans, if one of them now calls out somebody for saying something racist or sexist, then I’m excited for that – because I’ve been living in a world where I’m not sure people would’ve said anything.”
For now, we’ll have to wait and see, but hopefully there’s a time in the near future there’s something to celebrate at Hillsborough again – both on and off the field.
Maybe Ozzie’s got some more offcuts, because if there’s a future promotion on the cards then we know somebody with a dress that needs updating.