Sausage and chips, annoying Paddy Kenny, and a ‘piggy’ teacher – The Sheffield Wednesday story of The Sherlocks’ Brandon Crook
For Sheffield Wednesday fans under a certain age, the good times have been few and far between, but The Sherlock’s Brandon Crook was hooked straight in after sausage, chips and curry and an afternoon on the Kop.
In the latest edition of our look into the Wednesday stories of some famous Owls, The Star tracked down Crook, the drummer for the South Yorkshire-formed band, to see where it all began for him in blue and white.
“The first game I ever went to was Wednesday v QPR,” he said. “And we won 3-2. I went with my uncle – it was kids for a quid or something like that, so he said to my dad that he’d take me along. I think I was about 13, and there was a protest outside against David Allen.
“I think it was after they’d just fired Paul Sturrock, and they were singing ‘We want Allen out, say we want Allen out!’ I remember wondering what the hell was going on!
“But yeah, I went to that one, and I’ve been hooked ever since… There’s a chippy outside isn’t there, and I got a battered sausage and chips with curry sauce, and I now do that at every match I go to.”
It wasn’t just his uncle that got him on board though...
He went on to say, “My grandad has supported Wednesday since the 50s, and he gave me all his old programmes. He used to sit in the Kop, and I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of his old programmes – I’ve got one from like the Rumbelows Cup final. We speak about Wednesday all the time.
“I used to buy the Green ‘Un, get onto it with a pair of scissors and make a scrapbook of the Wednesday games every week. I reckon I’ve still got it somewhere!
And long before the ‘new normal’ of behind-closed-doors games and recorded crowd noises, Crook reminisced of the mid-2000s Owls and more specifically Chris Brunt’s left foot.
“I started going to quite a lot of away games as well,” he told The Star. “And I took a liking to Marcus Tudgay and Chris Brunt. Brunt used to hug the touchline, draw people in, then knock it past them and whip it in – what a left foot he had!
“Glenn Whelan was quality, too. And my favourite goal I’ve seen live was when Tudgay scored that one against United at home. I was right behind the net for that one, and it was unbelievable. Everyone went berserk and lost their heads – absolute euphoria. I remember everyone in the ground just bouncing around.”
Another highlight from Hillsborough that day happened in the stands though, when a teenage Crook got a cheer from the crowd and a glare from the Sheffield United goalkeeper.
He laughed as he recalled, “At one point in that game the ball came to me in the Kop, and I picked it up. We were winning 2-0 at that point, and Paddy Kenny was saying like ‘Gimme the ball’, I just looked at him with the ball in my hands, and then threw it as high and far as I could into the Kop behind me.
“The fans loved it, but Paddy Kenny wasn’t too happy, like!”
Like so many his age, Crook’s only memories of success are the celebrations of 2012 when the Owls climbed back up into the Championship, and he says that he sat – gutted – in the back of a van in May 2016 as the Owls missed out on the promised land of the Premier League by a whisker.
He said, “I was on tour for that Play-Off final, so I couldn’t go. I watched it on the back of a Merc Sprinter on a pull-down screen that was about 15 inches wide, and I was proper deflated after it. After such a good season we’d built up to that, and it was just gone… I did think we’d be up there again the next season, but I was also thinking about how the team must’ve felt after that…
“It was worse for me when I was at school though, because there was some real rivalry at that age. Some of my teachers were Unitedites, and I remember one of my mates getting a real telling off because he called our IT teacher a piggy – he got absolutely hammered for it!”
15 years after his first trip to Hillsborough, Crook isn’t making the trip to Hillsborough as regularly as he used to, with his commitments with The Sherlocks meaning that – pre-Coronavirus at least – it’s not so easy to find time to get to S6 on the weekends.
But he’s still looking forward to the day when fans are allowed back in, and he can return to Wednesday’s Kop End.
“I can’t go as much as I’d like now,” he explained. “Because of the band and our schedule, and the last one I went to was a 0-0! A reyt game to pick.
“For me though, there’s literally nothing better than when the ground is absolutely rocking and everyone is singing – because that’s what football is about, innit…
“If I’m free, and I can get there, then I’ll go.”
For Crook, and his fellow Wednesdayites, however, that wait for a return to Hillsborough continues – hopefully the Owls will still be in the Championship when it’s time to get back there.