‘Shrewsbury roar’ showed the raw power of Sheffield Wednesday – and further turned momentum towards S6

It’s fair to say one or two Sheffield Wednesday players edged towards the away end with a quiet air of trepidation.
Owls fans still in good voice despite missing out on automatic promotion    Pic Steve EllisOwls fans still in good voice despite missing out on automatic promotion    Pic Steve Ellis
Owls fans still in good voice despite missing out on automatic promotion Pic Steve Ellis

They weren’t cowering away from the reaction by any means. But in the moments after a confident 3-0 win away from home – a third win on the spin no less – you’d usually expect a joyous skipping towards the waiting masses; a few volume-altering fist-pumps, some shouts of ‘Gerrin there’ into a club media camera and a sense of joy.

At Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, it was an odd one.

Because the fact is that their 3-0 win was coated in the context of disappointment, of riotous runs from Devon and East Anglia and the end of the Owls’ automatic promotion dream. The feeling – from a vocal corner of social media at least – had been one of anger leading into the trip to New Meadow and the players will have known that.

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You could understand the trepidation of standing in front of thousands of Wednesdayites disappointed with third place. From the press box, a keen eye on what was about to unfold; a sense that ‘Crikey, this could go either way.’

How wrong that sense was. First came applause, then came chants. Players joined the handful who had already made their way to the front; Will Vaulks seemed to be the first soldier over the top with a few lieutenants flanking.

A few seconds in, a roar started and never stopped; it grew and grew, defiant in nature. Play-offs, then? The message was simple, that the Wednesday fanbase will be there in support of its players no matter what.

Any lingering press box notions that it ‘could go either way’? They were made to look foolish.

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Interviewed post-match, both Darren Moore and Michael Smith mentioned the post-match reception received by the players as ‘a big moment’. The body language of the players as they filed into the changing room? Trepidation trashed. Ten-feet tall.

That is the power that Sheffield Wednesday supporters have; and over the next few weeks, collectively-speaking, they’ll play a big a part as anyone.

This all followed a Friday in which Moore implored supporters and media alike to ‘look forward, stop looking back’, a thinly-veiled encouragement for all to embrace the play-offs rather than to somehow see them as the end of the road. Dejphon Chansiri released a statement to similar effect.

But to pretend that these messages turned the feeling of that away end is the stuff of fancy. Staring into those moments it was clear this is and was a fan base as behind its team more than ever regardless of recent disappointments; one that sensed their role in picking up a group of players clearly hurting after hearing the news of Plymouth and Ipswich.

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That news felt a sure thing from Tuesday last week, to be fair, and there is a feeling that it was better to know for sure over the weekend than let it bleed into the last day. After all, would you rather be shot in the head or bleed to death? The Wednesday machine had by Saturday begun to move on through Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief.

Since the EFL started in 1992, across all three divisions from Championship to League Two, Wednesday’s current tally with a match left to go would see them already promoted in all but two seasons. Regardless of that six-week sickener, this is a very, very good football team.

And with the snowballing effect of three wins on the spin, with the travelling Wednesday fans at Shrewsbury having proven – as if proof were needed – that they are going to play their part, momentum is shifting once more.

If the Owls are to achieve promotion at Wembley on May 29, the mind’s eye of many my well think back to New Meadow as the moment it all came together again.

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We could end up talking about the ‘Shrewsbury roar’ for years to come.

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