Tears, big money, Röhlvolution - Barry Bannan's spectacular night could aid Sheffield Wednesday's great escape

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Every now and again something happens with Sheffield Wednesday that reaffirms why they are so loved by their fanbase. Something that reaffirms their devotion.

On Sunday, in a packed-out room underneath the reception at the Mercure hotel in Sheffield centre, there was another one of those moments. ‘An Evening With Barry Bannan and Friends’ felt like something that couldn’t fail, but what played out was the sort of night that transcended its original purpose.

Everyone was there to support the incredible The Children’s Hospital Charity, to raise money for one of this city’s greatest institutions, put together by one of the Owls’ most loyal servants of the modern age. Bannan, who has long since owned honourary Yorkshireman status, beamed with pride as they announced that over £40k had been made on the night, and spoke emotionally about how – as the dad of two – it was a cause close to his heart.

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These nights have a knack for bringing people together, for bringing out the very best that the people of our fine city have to offer, and under the warm blanket of the current Röhlvolution this was no different. It’s not been a great season for Sheffield Wednesday, relegation is a very real possibility, but any fly on the wall at the Mercure wouldn’t have guessed it.

Esteemed Sunday league manager and Royal Oak legend, Steve Bracknall, was on hand as compère – complete with his jeans tucked into a pair of football socks – and he perfectly set the tone for an evening that, despite being for a very serious reason, was meant to be a bit of fun.

Bannan was the headline act, of course, but cheers and chants rose up from the crowd as his teammates entered the room from the back to take their place alongside fans who’d given that bit extra to the cause. Josh Windass, Liam Palmer, Dom Iorfa, Will Vaulks, Cameron Dawson, Callum Paterson and Michael Smith all taking time out to support their captain and raise money for an incredibly worthy cause.

There was a surprise attendee, though, because there was another familiar face that people hadn’t seen in the build-up, who hadn’t been spotted in the foyer beforehand, and as Boney M’s Daddy Cool blared from the speakers Danny Röhl made his way to the front table before sheepishly tapping his foot to the beat as his name rang out from his adoring public.

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Rarely does a manager become so liked so quickly at a football club, and if the marked improvement on the pitch wasn’t enough, his likability off it has done just as much good. While everyone else sat for their first course, Röhl stood patiently at the front posing with what felt like everybody in the room for a photo to take home with them.

Bracknall was in great form, Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers took the stage for a sing song, and elsewhere in the room Vaulks had members of the Women’s Supporters Group crying happy tears after his show of support for the work that they’re doing. Paterson was asked about his biggest catch – it was a massive Wahoo in the Maldives for those wondering – and a few chants of ‘Super Joshy Windass’ did the rounds before it came time for the auction.

Up for grabs was a house gig from Reverend and the Makers which was secured by Bannan’s wife, Chloe, and it was hard to tell who was more excited – her about the gig, or the band’s lead singer about getting to visit Château Bannan. A new Pete McKee of Röhl, signed by both, gained even further value when the Owls boss promised to go for dinner with whoever bid highest, and he also proceeded to enter a bidding war for a golf day with his own captain. He won, but Bannan thinks it might have been on behalf of coach, Sascha Lense, who is fond of a day on the course. There was even a video message from Tyson Fury, who had signed a glove and donated that as well.

The night ended with Chris McClure, who suddenly appeared when Bracknall took off his trackie top, with a final message. Football is big, but community is bigger – and more important. Bannan completely agrees.

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“It was an amazing night,” he told The Star afterwards. “I’m shocked at the turnout to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect - it’s my first time doing something like this. I’m very privileged that I’m loved in this city with the blue half of Sheffield, and I was thinking of ways to use that as advantage to help these poorly children and the Children’s Hospital…

“We’ve visited the hospital as a team, and individually, and some of the things you see in there are a real shame - it’s hard place to go. But I’m lucky that I’ve got a reputation in this city and I can use that to help these children that I see… It’s three or four hours out of my life to come and raise money, but we can help save lives.

“It was massive for me to have my teammates here, I know they’ve giving up valuable family time to be here, and that they’re coming without knowing who they’re going to be sat with - it shows that they’re behind what I’m doing and me as a person. I think you can see on the pitch that we’ve got that togetherness as a squad, and the manager coming as well shows the type of person that he is."

Now it’s back to the football, but like the Player awards last season that galvanised the side to pull off greatest play-off campaign of all time, maybe Sunday night’s event at the Mercure can inspire greatness of another kind – a great escape, maybe?

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