Unbeaten run puts Dave among club’s high-fliers

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TAKE your mind back to Saturday tea-time, February 18.

Ok, you may not remember the date but it becomes memorable when you note that Wednesday had just lost at Chesterfield.

It was doom and gloom in the Owls camp.

Those in the know were convinced that Gary Megson’s days were numbered.

The Owls had been beaten three times in succession and the promotion challenge appeared to be faltering.

Who would have thought, when uncertainty and worry shrouded the club, that this would be the last game they would lose for more than six months?

It is the best start to a Wednesday manager’s reign since Howard Wilkinson, the present holder of that record, made his mark in the summer and autumn of 1983.

If you count League games only, then you could say Jones has already done even better than Wilko.

Howard’s side went through the first 18 matches of the 1983-84 season unbeaten. They won 11 and drew four in the League, and won three in the League Cup.

Jones has had 12 wins and three draws in the League - two points better than the 1983 record, and you could say it was down to Miguel Llera’s 90th minute winner against Millwall last Saturday!

The present manager’s run of 17 unbeaten in league and cup puts him one match away from equalling Wilkinson’s 18.

It is a strange quirk that Saturday sees the Owls at Crystal Palace - the very fixture that brought the first defeat in 1983, by a score of 1-0.

The Cup win against Fulham on Tuesday saw Jones overtake Billy Walker, who went 16 games unbeaten in the league and cup after being appointed as Wednesday manager in December, 1933.

When it comes to overall unbeaten records, and not just those at the start of a manager’s reign, Wednesday are just behind another one from that Wilkinson era.

The team won the final game of the previous season, under Jack Charlton, against Crystal Palace, strangely enough. so were undefeated in 19 until they lost at Palace in November, 1983.

The club are some way off the unbeaten record for league games only: 19, achieved during 1960-61, the time when under Harry Catterick they finished runners-up to double-winning Spurs.

Counting cup-ties as well, that run would have been 25 games had it not been for a defeat in an FA Cup sixth-round replay at Burnley.

In a fourth-round replay the Owls had pulled off one of their most famous post-war victories: 7-2 at Manchester United.

What a season that was. It is generally reckoned the side Wednesday had then would have won the title in any normal year, and if Tottenham had not been so exceptional.

The Owls are only in the Championship just now, but for Jones to be mentioned in the company of men such as Wilkinson and Catterick, who indisputably are two of Hillsborough’s all-time great managers, is a reflection of how well he has done, so far.

Gary Madine is right: Jones is becoming a legend. But, as he himself said the other night, there is a long, long way to go yet.