Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri can be open AND stay in the background ... like the old days: Alan Biggs

Reading Alex Miller’s excellent Sheffield Wednesday book, “91”, one thing stood out for not standing out.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 1:12 pm

There were very few references to the chairman of the club or the board of directors.

No reference to the club’s “owner” either. For the simple reason that there wasn’t one.

Just a group of custodians and, in fact, two chairmen during Ron Atkinson’s successful time, “the great Bert McGee,” as Big Ron referred to him, and Dave (later Sir Dave) Richards, with whom the manager also “got on well” despite the sudden truncation of their second spell together.

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri..........Pic Steve Ellis

In the main, both chairmen stayed in the background, which I feel is the way it should be, although there was a later time when Richards was rightly pressured into fronting up for the club’s decline.

This isn’t intended as a dig at the current chairman - and owner - whose name is plastered all over Hillsborough, as these are different times right across football. Indeed, there are hopeful signs of lessons having been learned and these deserve encouragement rather than continued sniping.

While I totally agree that Dejphon Chansiri should be much more open with Owls fans, particularly in these critical times, his general desire to stay out of the picture is essentially right. Much as that is a contradiction with his hands-on style and his name on everything.

But it is a reminder that what happens on the field is near enough the entire business and focus of a football club.

When Wednesday were surprisingly relegated under Atkinson in 1990 nobody pointed at the boardroom. Same a year later when praise and champagne were showered but little reserved for the hierarchy.

Somehow eyes have to be redirected, for better or worse, to that rectangle of green.

Get that part right and no-one gripes too much about prices, season tickets, hospitality packages and catering in the concourse.

Get it wrong and we need to be looking again at the manager and players. Not at a remote individual behind the scenes.

But to get it right, I hope that the noises being heard - of a restructuring operation in which the key agent/advisor takes a step back with the manager and recruitment chief taking a step forward - become reality.

If so, a fundamental first step to the sort of conditions that applied when the club was last successful, albeit that the game has changed (maybe for the worse in this respect) since then.

I wouldn’t look over my accountant’s shoulder and tell him he’d got his sums wrong because the extent of my knowledge of his job is using a calculator.

And I wouldn’t expect him to start rewriting my columns. More’s the pity maybe!

But I do have the power over his employment and if I like what I see I stay out of it.

Which brings me back to those happy days merrily chronicled by Miller of the Sheffield Star.

Events have been so extreme 30 years on that I haven’t had space to do “91” justice, maybe not enough here either.

Many will have read it already but those who haven’t are missing both a treat and some welcome stress therapy.

Beautifully told through the people who mattered the most - and including revelations that escaped those of us who were there at the time - it is a reminder of what Sheffield Wednesday can be like again in the future.

* “91” by Alex Miller is published by Vertical Editions.