For a long time, just the idea that we’d ever play a ‘big’ team like Sheffield Wednesday on equal terms seemed so out there. When we first began knocking the ball around on the King George V playing fields, who knew that it was the start of an odyssey that’d take us to a ground as famous as Hillsborough? And you can probably argue that Owls fans wouldn’t have their club down as a future league opponent of little old Boro’ when they were in their top flight pomp.
Yet, here we are – about to talk about how our paths crossed with the Owls. And how we turned in one of our all-time great performances; perhaps our best since joining the Football League?
Who are Sheffield Wednesday Football Club?
Now, as we suggested at the top, the Owls probably count as a ‘big’ team in English football. It’s also worth knowing that we’re gonna have to hit the fast forward button a few times. Otherwise, we won’t get to the juicy bits. Fundamentally, their story starts back in 1867 – famously to give a cricket club called The Wednesday something to do during the winter. In Yorkshire, that’s a long time to spend too. To be fair to them, the got into the habit of winning trophies early doors too.
After 1935, the major honours dried up. It was the year that delivered a third FA Cup – and came five years after winning their fourth (and currently final) English league crown. For a little bit of trivia, the Owls were the side who came second to the Double-winning Tottenham Hotspur side of 1961. Anyway, fortunes took a real nosedive during the 1970s as they dropped down as far as Division Three. In the grand scheme of their history, it was blip. But one that’d be repeated.
Why do we know the Owls?
In the 1980s, the club pushed themselves back up the ladder and they were among the glorious 22 clubs to invent football in 1992 with the formation of the FA Carling Premier League Ship. The bigger boys started to swamp them and, by 2000, they were heading out of the top flight. To this day, they’re yet to return. Instead, recent years have seen them spend their time in at lower end of the second tier – if not having to fight back against the tide in the third.
And that’s where we come in.
In 2010, the Owls dropped out of the Championship. Their first season in League One saw them finish a lowly 15th too. We can only guess they found it hard to get used to life back in the third tier. Their continued presence in the division, however, coincided with our first appearance in it; Boro’ promoted at the end of the 2010-1 campaign to take our place among some luminaries of the English game. Well, fallen luminaries. It’d be quite the experience for little old us.
What is our record against them?
It wasn’t an experience that fazed us either. The season wasn’t that old when they visited us for the first time. It was a midweek match in mid-September. And Boro’ weren’t about to be cowed by tradition or anything like that. We stormed out of the blocks; Craig Reid scoring after only six minutes. Barely 10 more minutes had passed before John Mousinho and Michael Bostwick had added two more. Lawrie Wilson made it four as the halftime interval moved into sight.
The second half was almost a disappointment as we only added one more goal (through Darius Charles, before Gary Madine grabbed a consolation for an Owls side who’d finish with 10 men.
Under the leadership of new boss Gary Smith, Boro’ made the journey north to Hillsborough on Valentine’s Day that season. No doubt the Owls would’ve been looking for some major revenge; something to make right the wrongs of earlier that season. A stoic performance from us put paid to that, however. We may have only managed a fraction of the shots they did, but we made one count; Scott Laird grabbing the decisive goal on the stroke of half time.
And, with it, came a famous league double against an iconic name in English football.
Sheffield Wednesday: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 2 — W 2 — D 0 — L 0 — F 6 — A 1 — Pts 6 — WR 100%
Our last tango: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Stevenage, 14 February 2012
What happened to them?
By virtue of our 2-2 draw away to Sheffield United later that season, the Owls secured automatic promotion at the expense of their rivals. We didn’t follow, however; the Blades getting their own back in the playoffs. So, we said goodbye to them; watching on as they got themselves back into the Championship. And they were still there up until the end of last term, despite their fair share of disappointing campaigns in the lower half of the table.
As of the 2021-2 season, however, they’re back in League One. It only now dawns on us that they have only been relegated to the third tier on four occasions in a hundred-and-forever years. And that’s what happened in May 2021. Their fate was all but sealed long before that with a 12-point deduction for breaking EFL spending rules. The combined efforts of three managers meant they went into the final day of the 2020-1 season with a chance. But it didn’t come to pass.
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Sheffield Wednesday club profile