“The usual reaction is, why Wednesday?” – The Sheffield Wednesday story of broadcaster, Sophy Ridge
Don’t let the accent fool you... Sky News presenter, Sophy Ridge, may be from down South, but she’s as blue and white as they come thanks to her dad, and she takes great satisfaction in declaring her love for the Owls of Hillsborough.
In part two of The Star’s look at the Owls list of famous fans, we spoke to Ridge about what makes SWFC special, her favourite goals, and sneaking out of a friend’s wedding to catch them on TV in a pub – only to get caught!
So how did she end up in a Wednesday shirt? Where does her story begin?
“My family is from Sheffield, so being a Wednesdayite runs in the blood,” she explained to The Star. “My dad is a big fan, so supporting Sheffield Wednesday is something I inherited from him when I was a child, I never considered supporting anyone else.
“My earliest memories were when Chris Waddle played for us, but my clearest memories are from when Paolo di Canio and Benito Carbone were at the club… I just remember these two flamboyant Italians playing really exciting football, but being entirely unpredictable. They were great to watch.
“As someone from the South, people are usually surprised when I tell them that I support Sheffield Wednesday – and the usual reaction is, why Wednesday? But once I explain the family connection then everyone understands because family loyalties run deep.
“To be honest, it’s quite satisfying telling people that I’m a Wednesday fan as people can assume that as a woman I won’t be interested in football. But once they find out who my team is, they re-evaluate.”
Being a TV personality, especially one who hosts her own show on a weekend, doesn’t make it easy to get up to Hillsborough, but Ridge has done her fair share of away days with the Owls faithful.
She said, “I would love to be able to watch more live matches but unfortunately, because Sophy Ridge on Sunday airs at the weekend, I am usually working on Saturdays.
“So the easiest games for me to get to tend to be weekday games that aren’t too far from London. Although it would be great to get to Hillsborough more, the positive side of this is that the travelling Wednesday fans are always a great laugh and really friendly – and somehow always seem to make even more noise than the home fans!”
One missed game does stand out though, and even though she tried her best to catch the 2016 Play-Off final, some nuptials – and the happy couple themselves – got in her way. Quite literally.
“I couldn’t make the 2016 Play-Off final because my very good friend’s wedding was on the same day. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I did actually try and sneak out to watch the match in the pub!
“I had just made it out of the venue when, to my horror, I bumped straight into the happy couple having some photographs taken. So I had to pretend that I had got lost and went back inside. After that it was really nerve-wracking waiting for the updates and keeping across it on my phone.”
“I did go down to Brighton to watch the second semi-final leg with my dad, though. It was an absolutely fantastic day out. After we went a goal down one Brighton supporter shouted at us that it just showed why they had finished above us in the league – so when Ross Wallace scored the equaliser and sent us into the final against Hull, it was even sweeter.
“The majority of Brighton fans were great, and of course the travelling Wednesday supporters were on exceptional form. The atmosphere was electric.”
Despite remembering the glory years of Waddle, Di Canio and Carbone, Ridge’s favourite Wednesday goals are a bit more recent, and will still be fresh in the mind of many Wednesdayites around the country.
They were scored by a couple of lads by the name of Michail Antonio and Nile Ranger, and what followed them at Hillsborough has gone down in history…
“If I had to choose my favourite goals, it would probably be for sentimental reasons - when we won promotion to the Championship against Wycombe in 2012,” she explained.
“I was there with my family and even though it ended up being an easy win it was just such a great day that I’ll always remember.”
Whether it’s home or away, Ridge thinks there’s something about Wednesday supporters. How they make you feel when you’re with them.
When asked what she feels makes them extraordinary, she replied, “The thing that makes Sheffield Wednesday such a special club is without a doubt the fans… I don’t think you would meet a friendlier bunch of people.
“I love the feeling walking down towards the stadium on match days and feeling like you are part of something bigger - everyone is there for the same reason.”
Hopefully for Ridge, the next time Wednesday do make a push for the Play-Offs there won’t be a friend with an inconveniently-timed wedding in the way, and she’ll be off to Wembley with the rest of us.
You can catch Sophy Ridge on Sunday every weekend, airing at 8.30am on Sky News.