The Thursday Preview: Sheffield Wednesday Vs Crystal Palace

Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 in The Thursday Preview | 3 Comments

From my experience, football fans tend to enjoy hypothetical conversations. Whether it’s conjecturing which lower league strikers would look good a level up, compiling themed-XIs, or arguing the toss over club versus country scenarios (for the record, The Two Unfortunates advocates the “I’d rather see my team win a corner kick in the 90th minute when they’re 3-0 down than England win the World Cup” stance), us supporters are more than partial to a bit of football fancy.

Another such whimsy is whether you’d prefer your team to sort its status out with time to spare, or whether you’d opt in to keeping your nails short right through to the final day of the season. The safe option means a stale and potentially disappointing conclusion to 9 months of putting your mental well being on the line, whereas the alternative keeps things tasty to the very end. With this in mind, I wonder how many onlookers would trade places with those in attendance at Hillsborough on Sunday?

Unless you follow Plymouth or Peterborough, then the answer is likely to be ‘not many’, but on Sunday one set of supporters will take an experience from Owlerton that will stay with them for the rest of their days. Bloomfield Road and the Liberty aside, you’ll be lucky to see a Mexican wave across most Championship grounds on Sunday as fans put their feet up for the summer, but the atmosphere at Hillsborough will be something to savour. Since Monday, demand for tickets has surged to the extent that the game has sold out, leaving some fans ticketless.

The game’s appeal might have a bearing on attendances in the rest of the division, since the match is being shown live on the beeb. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who sighed at the sight of Jake Humphrey’s inoffensive air-filler on MOTD2 last Sunday but even his presence won’t dampen the mood as, in what must be some kind of first for the century, a genuinely intriguing English football match is beamed live to the nation on terrestrial.

Tension is high, and most readers will have read or heard about Wednesday Chairman Lee Strafford’s rant by now. Mud has been slung from all directions in the aftermath but, as another preview of the match writes, Strafford’s words will only serve to shoot Palace in the arm.

Such a boost is more than timely for the Eagles. Our eye-witness at Selhurst Park on Monday spoke of demoralised home ends upon the final whistle, and one of the few players to have really caught the eye for them this season, Neil Danns, will be suspended after butting the increasingly sure-of-himself Graham Dorrans.

Palace were maybe a little lucky to come away with a point on Monday after West Brom peppered their goal, but with only five away defeats to their name all season the Eagles, who have previous experience of final-day survival shenanigans, are a tough proposition for a Owls side short on confidence. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the South Norwood club, and they are my favourites for survival.

On the other hand, my fellow blogger Lanterne Rouge can’t see past a home win, and it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. The Owls’ last five wins have all come at Hillsborough, and they pushed aside Watford in a similarly meaningful match a month ago. There’s also a kind of devil-may-care attitude about the club at the moment, which could be dangerous. This season has been so poor that the fans have fallen out of love with the players, and this unease has only been compounded by the lingering question mark over the proposed investment in the club. A read of this offbeat report of the trip to South Wales last week will capture the mood.

The BBC blogger Paul Fletcher alludes to how the match will rival that at Anfield on Sunday, echoing Mike Holden’s argument in his When Saturday Comes article this month that the Championship is knocking on the Premiership’s door in terms of its competitiveness and appeal. I wonder whether the viewing figures will bear out his words?

Lloyd
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He’s 30, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol.

3 Comments

  1. scarf
    April 30, 2010

    'for the record, The Two Unfortunates advocates the “I’d rather see my team win a corner kick in the 90th minute when they’re 3-0 down than England win the World Cup” stance.'

    This particular columnist doesn't, certainly. I don't have any great footballing ambitions for my club – to continue to exist as a Football League club is enough for me. I guess it would be nice for us to get in the Championship again one day, but we've already been there and was all-seater and expensive, so I'm not too fussed about that. I never want us to get in the Premiership because I – like many of the characters who make County such a great experience – wouldn't be able to afford to go, particularly to away games. I also love the fact that when I go to away games I turn up and know 20/30 other people at least. I don't want that to be dilluted by glory fans later on. Aside from that, I'd like us to play Man U and to take the lead. That's the limit of my ambitions as far as County are concerned – I'm more interested in us being a leader in terms of a community club than I am about having loads of success on the field (though obviously it's always great when we win).

    On the other hand, the one thing I'd love to see more than anything else football wise in my lifetime is for England to win the World Cup. It would be so amazing – just the whole country celebrating together. In a straight choice between County winning promotion and England winning the World Cup, England wins every time, simply because the implications of the latter are greater as far as history is concerned.

    On to tomorrow's match….two highly objectionable sets of fans, both of whom I would quite like to be relegated. Each time we've played Wendy over the last few years a good number of the seats from the away end have ended up on the pitch, whilst the nasty atmosphere of Palace's last-day escape in 2001, which Lloyd refers to, hasn't been forgotten by County fans. Both clubs are symptomatic of everything that is wrong with football – arrogant fans who consider themselves to be important despite having done absolutely nothing for a generation or more except embarrass English football with the levels of debt they've got themselves into. If our own relegation has any silver lining, it's that we won't have to play either of these two next season. Give me Barnet away any time.

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  2. Lanterne Rouge
    April 30, 2010

    Some sweeping generalizations on Palace and Owls fans Scarfy although I can understand how first hand experience can colour one's views. My own feelings are way more positive towards both: Wednesday have a magnificent ground and genuine grassroots support and I have always been surprised at how good the atmosphere is at the Palace. As for the debt, well yes…but few are innocent on that count in this day and age.

    The England thing is double edged for me. I want them to win and do well but am also shockingly embarrassed by them too – and often enjoy revelling in the doom and gloom when they do badly. Like Lloyd though – it's club over country every time for me – patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel etc. That's why I increasingly prefer to watch England on my own in a darkened room.

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  3. scarf
    April 30, 2010

    Firstly in terms of Wendy and Palace….yes, of course every club has decent fans and has idiots – goodness knows we have more than our fair share of the latter category ourselves. But you can only take people as you find them, and I've found both sets of fans to be massively condescending, particularly when we were in the same division as them. As a fan of a genuinely small club, there is nothing worse than misplaced arrogance – I've got less of a problem with fans of clubs like Man U in that regard, actually, because at least they have something to be arrogant about. Celebrate your own club for what it is, not what you wish it was. As for Hillsbrough…it depends what you want in a ground. An all-seater stadium will never be a 'magnificent' one as far as I'm concerned. If I wanted to sit for an hoour and a half and be entertained, I'd go to the theatre. I don't – I want to stand – and that's why I go to football.

    In terms of the England thing…I suspect part of our difference is that you & Lloyd support clubs that have realistic ambitions to be in the top flight. Both Reading and Plymouth are comfortably bigger than Stockport. Particularly living where I do – a long way from my home-town team (and coming from a town where hardly anyone supports that team, anyway) – watching England is the only chance I get to watch a game in the pub with my friends, genuinely supporting the same team. I love all the drama of the World Cup and I would love it if we won it…though ultimately I do care more about County than England – not only because supporting County is more 'difficult' (both in terms of effort and emotion), but because you do it for 9 months of the year. I'd rather England win the World Cup than County get promoted…but I suffer more when County lose a routine league game than when England inevitably get knocked out on penalties yet again….

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