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Sheffield Wednesday is one of the oldest football clubs in the world having been formed on 4th September 1867. The origins of the club are from a cricket club which played in the summer months. Wishing to keep its players together through the winter months, the football club was set up and its meeting days were on Wednesdays. Soon, the Wednesday Football Club became the dominant sport for its members. The prefix 'Sheffield' was not added until 1929.
The club turned professional in 1887 and began to play its games at the Olive Grove ground. It joined the Football League in 1892 and won its first major honour, the FA Cup in 1896 when they beat Wolves 2-1.
Wednesday's original nickname was the Blades (now Sheffield United's nickname) but they became the Owls following a move to a new ground in the OWLerton district of Sheffield.
They won the first division title in 1903 and 1904 and the FA Cup again in 1907 when they beat Everton 2-1. First divison titles came again in 1929 and 1930 and their last FA Cup win in 1935 when they beat West Bromwich Albion by 4-2.
In the 1950's Wednesday came to be known as the yo-yo team as they were relegated to the second division 3 times and promoted to the first on 4 occasions. The 1950's was certainly an eventful spell for Wednesday, the most notorious incident being the loss to football of Derek Dooley, a prolific goalscorer and Sheffield lad who was the crowd's favourite at the time. He suffered a broken leg in a game at Preston and when gangrene set in, his life was in danger. Surgeons were forced to amputate his leg to save his life. A tragic loss to football and to the club.
Wednesday finally resumed top division status through the 1960's reaching the FA Cup final in 1966 when, despite leading 2-0 at one stage, went on to lose 3-2 to Everton.
Earlier in that decade, the club was rocked by the bribery scandal when the People newspaper revealed that 3 Wednesday players had been bribed to throw a game in December 1962 against Ipswich Town. Wednesday lost the game 2-0 and although the same newspaper awarded Tony Kay man-of-the-match for that game, he was one of a trio of players to be found guilty of the charges. He, David 'Bronco' Layne and England centre half Peter Swan were given prison sentences for their parts in the scandal.
Wednesday were relegated in 1970 after a last match defeat at home to Manchester City. The club then went through several managerial changes involving Danny Williams, Derek Dooley, Steve Burthenshaw and Len Ashurst before finding themselves in division 3. The man to change their fortunes was Jack Charlton who turned the club around and achieved promotion in 1980.
At one stage, neighbours Sheffield United were also in division 3 and the 2 meetings that season drew attendances of 45,156 at Bramall Lane and a record 3rd division crowd at Hillsborough of 49,309. The Hillsborough game was played on Boxing Day and has come into folklore to be known as the Boxing Day Massacre as Wednesday won 4-0.
Charlton stayed with the club for 5 years but could not get Wednesday out of the second division. Howard Wilkinson, a former Wednesday winger, took over and achieved promotion in 1984. Wilkinson achieved moderate success but, upset at the club's lack of ambition, he moved on to Leeds United. Wednesday temporarily installed Peter Eustace but his brief spell was a disaster for the club and Ron Atkinson was brought in to restore the club's fortunes.
Unfortunately, a freak combination of results saw Wednesday relegated in 1990 but the core of players that Atkinson had built up, stuck with the club and 1990/91 was one of the most enjoyable seasons that Wednesday has ever had. They achieved promotion that year and won their first major silverware for over 50 years when they beat first division Manchester United 1-0 in the Wembley final of the Rumbelows League Cup. Scorer that day was John Sheridan.
Atkinson shocked Wednesday soon after their successes that season by joining Aston Villa and Wednesday appointed winger and former England star Trevor Francis to take over as player manager. Francis brought in some excellent players in his time (Chris Waddle and Des Walker included) but he was blamed for ruining Atkinson's team and the club began to decline again.
Francis did get Wednesday to 4 Wembley appearances in 1993. They played an FA Cup semi final there against Sheffield United winning 2-1. The final against Arsenal was a 1-1 draw but Wednesday lost the replay 2-1 in the last minute of extra time. It was Arsenal who also beat Wednesday in the final of the League cup that same season.
Wednesday's most famous fan "Tango", who became well known in the 90's, is pictured on the right.
Francis was sacked and replaced by David Pleat but the decline continued and Pleat was also sacked in November 1997 with Wednesday in the relgation mire. Ron Atkinson was brought back for his second spell at the club.
Season 97/98 saw Wednesday escape the relegation threat that looked inevitable at one stage. However, the century ended on a downer for the Owls as they were relegated at the end of 99/2000 from the Premier League to join neighbours United and Barnsley in the First division.
The Owls began the century with financial constraints and some big wage earners on the books who were not contributing to the team, chiefly because of long term injuries. Management changes have seen the departure of Danny Wilson, Paul Jewell, Peter Shreeves and Terry Yorath in quick succession.
2003 - The club was relegated to the Second Division following a long spell of poor results. This follows three years of relegation battles to avoid the drop.
2004-05 saw the sacking of Chris Turner and the introduction of Paul Sturrock as manager. He steered Wednesday to a play off final where, in a thrilling encounter at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium, Wednesday led, fell behind, equalised a few minutes before the 90 minutes were up, and then they went on to clinch victory and promotion 4-2 in extra time. Wednesday began 2005-06 season in the Championship (the old second division) alongside United.
On the left is the famous Wednesday band which plays at home games and at any away grounds that will let them in. They have also been drafted in to play at England international games at Wembley and Cardiff.
Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium has always been one of the best grounds in the country and, following investment in the infrastructure by former General Manager Eric Taylor, the ground was often chosen for Cup semi-finals and for some other top class fixtures.
The club was shocked however to share the blame for a tragic day in 1990 when 95 people lost their lives at the Liverpool-Nottingham Forest semi final. Blame for this disaster has always been a contentious issue and we will not dwell on it here. Save to say that major improvements to Hillsborough and other grounds in the country have followed that disaster and no similar incident should ever occur again.
Wednesday's ground was again chosen for prominence when it became one of the grounds to stage matches in the Euro 96 competition. Denmark played all of their games at Hillsborough, against Croatia, Portugal and Turkey.
With the addition of the Grandstand section in the south stand, the capacity now is around 40,000. Away fans get one of the best views that any away set of supporters can find in the country, occupying the upper tier of the West Stand.
BOOKS & DVD'S
Division 1 Champions 1902/3, 1903/4, 1928/9, 1929/30 Division 1 Runners up 1960/1 Division 2 Champions 1899/00, 1925/6, 1951/2, 1955/6, 1958/9 Division 2 Runners up 1949/50, 1983/4 Promoted from Div 2 1990/1 Promoted from Div 3 1979/80 FA Cup winners 1896, 1907, 1935 FA Cup Runners up 1890, 1966, 1993 League Cup Winners 1991 League Cup Runners up 1993
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