Sheffield Wednesday: Former Owls and Leeds United defender on what it's like to play in a Yorkshire derby
“It’s a massive game”, beams Jon Newsome when recalling clashes between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United, “it’s a grudge match, isn’t it? It’s always a bit niggly.”
Newsome, who started and ended his career at his beloved Wednesday and won the title with Leeds in 1992, has experience of playing in the fixture on both side of the South and West Yorkshire divide.
The defender returned to Hillsborough with Leeds on two occasions and opened the scoring for the Owls in a 2-1 win at Elland Road in 1997.
He said the match has taken on an importance of its own in recent years, though, and with both sides flying high in the Championship table, this weekend’s clash is as vital as any.
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“There’s definitely some added spice that they’re second and third in the league,” he said.
“Wednesday have sneaked up the table a bit and it proves that if you can put one or two good results together you can get somewhere in this league. It’s a massive game.
“It’s a Yorkshire derby, isn’t it? It’s big bragging rights and it’s three points that both sides need and will be desperate to get hold of.”
The fixture’s recent history has been littered with incidents on and off the field, more so than in generations gone by. Fans have clashed in recent years and Sheffield’s tram service won’t run on Saturday after problems on the day of Leeds’ visit last season.
Asked about the rivalry between supporters, Newsome said: “I do think people from Sheffield have a bit of a grudge about Leeds. Having lived in Leeds and been around the club I don’t see why that’s the case.
“There’s a lot of dislike for Leeds and for Leeds United. There’s a bit of a grudge there.”
As for the action at Hillsborough, Newsome predicts a full-throttle encounter, which he believes will play to the strengths of both teams.
He echoed Garry Monk’s sentiment earlier in the week that it is the visitors that will be under the most pressure, with an expectation that they should be dominating the division.
“It’s going to be quick and fast-paced,” he said. “There’s been a bit of rain about and the pitch will be quick and skiddy. Leeds will come and try and be fast and high-tempo, but hopefully that will suit Sheffield Wednesday as well. They’re better with a higher tempo.
“There’s a lot of expectation on Leeds United and that sure weighs heavy at times. If you go and get at them and they don’t put the game to bed, you can get something out of the game.”