Those two mad weeks in May are the sort of moments at football clubs that are meant to change their trajectory, that are harnessed and built on, that form fresh bonds and create future generations of fans.
Less than four months on from that Josh Windass winner, the hopes of that happening at Hillsborough couldn’t be further from reality. It’s been a waste of Wembley.
It wasn’t all rosy last season, there were still divisions at points in the campaign, but after the final whistle went under that arch there was at least a sense that Wednesday’s return to the Championship would be surrounded by familiarity and continuity and steadiness.
What has played out since then beggars belief.
To look at Wednesday now is to look at a club bereft – bereft of wins, bereft of confidence, bereft of unity. Fans are fighting between themselves, talk of protest is rife, and fan confidence in owner, Dejphon Chansiri, has never been lower.
He’s often said that he’s the head of the family so will take responsibility, so when complaints pour in over decisions on management, on ticket prices and shirt costings, it falls at his door. For all the statements that have been penned, everything that’s been said, there’s no getting away from the fact that Wednesday’s chairman is the man who had the ability to bottle up the positive vibes and use them to build a future – instead he pulled them to pieces.
Looking back over the last few months it’s tough to find any positives for those of a Wednesday persuasion. The man who finally appeared to be getting the club pulling in the same direction departed, so did his whole team, and the string of forums, statements and back and forths have seen fans become more and more distant from the team that they love.
The word ‘apathy’ was used a lot during the relegation season during the Covid-19 pandemic, and now it’s creeping in again. Unjustifiable ticket prices are keeping people away, and with the team floundering at the foot of the table there’s no argument of champagne prices for champagne football.
Apathy is only part of the problem, though, because elsewhere things are becoming more militant. Vandalism has taken place, anti-Chansiri chants are becoming more common, bigger protests are being planned as supporters look to make themselves heard. They’re angry, they’re sad, they’re disillusioned – they’re fed up.
Changes were needed, they were always going to be if Wednesday were going to survive, but Wednesday haven’t just changed over the summer, they’ve become unrecognisable. Xisco’s been given plenty of new players, but has he been given the tools to complete the job that’s being asked of him? Wednesdayites have had to sit by while Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town revel in their new-found second tier status while the Owls build another squad of largely loans and free transfers.
Wednesday were ninth in the Championship when Chansiri took over in 2015 and had finished 16th the season before his arrival, in January it will be nine years since that takeover and it looks as though the Owls will be quite literally in a worse position than where he found them.
Failure to build on the success of last season, a brief moment where Sheffield Wednesday Football Club briefly floated into the international consciousness, would go down as one of the biggest missed opportunities in recent memory. And that’s exactly where we’re headed.