Now THAT was a homecoming… - Joe Crann’s Sheffield Wednesday column
When I sat down in my media seat for Queens Park Rangers last season, I was home – but it didn’t feel like it.
Because yeah, I was inside Hillsborough, I was watching Sheffield Wednesday player, but for all intents and purposes I could’ve still been in my apartment back in Johannesburg. There was no feel to it, it just felt so… soulless.
And that was the tale of the season, really. I was back in my home town, covering my club, but I was doing it at empty stadiums and watching a side that was bogged down by negativity and in the long relegation battle that they ultimately couldn’t survive.
But Sunday felt different.
It may have been almost a year after I first got back from South Africa, but Sunday was my Sheffield Wednesday homecoming. That’s when I knew I was really home.
I was surprised to hear that there were only 12,000 people there for the Carabao Cup game against Huddersfield Town, because the ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ before kickoff felt a helluva lot louder than that.
Maybe it was the anticipation of it all, maybe it was the sheer relief of being back after such a long time away, but it felt monstrous. And I just sat there like a Cheshire cat – a daft grin plastered across my face as I waited for the whistle.
And there’s so much that I’d forgotten about. Stuff that you take for granted.
The sarcastic cheer from one set of fans after the other think they’ve scored. The low rumble of anticipation as an attack starts to build up. The smell on burgers and onions in the air as you walk down Penistone Road. It’s all part of the matchday experience that we’ve been robbed of for more than a year.
So yeah, it felt good to be back. Even though we did lose a penalty shootout. For me personally, the joy of the occasion was far greater than the disappointment of the defeat, and I just feel like it’s going to keep getting better.
Darren Moore’s brought a renewed sense of optimism to it all, myself included… I know that the away end at the Valley is going to be bouncing this weekend – and I absolutely cannot wait.