Apologies to regular readers for finally succumbing to writing about football. In my defence, we had a good year before it got to this. Apologies too for invoking Partridge with the title.
I guess the audience for this blog is a bit niche in that I'll end up writing whilst assuming you know something about football and/or Sheffield Wednesday. (Disclaimer - going to Hillsborough does not automatically qualify you to know something about football as we shall see below).
I contemplated whether I should write this whilst trudging back up the hill to the car after last night's game against Huddersfield which we comfortably managed to lose 3-1. We weren't our best last night and despite making a few chances and missing them) up front, our defence made them look like Barcelona.
As a football fan, I think I'm quite lucky in that my entire existence doesn't revolve around Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. I live and die with each kick during the game, but the result washes over me an hour or so after the match. It's only a game right?
Some people are a lot more fanatical than I am and whilst I respect their choice to be that way, I will make a point of not being tarred with the mad brush to a certain extent. Most of my football related conversations take place on Twitter, where a certain proportion of our fanbase believe that being a Wednesday fan means we're all mates. This is definitely not the case.
After last night's game (our 6th of 46 this season) the same old tired tribe took to their phones to start bashing the team and the manager, floating all manner of hysterical observations. On the surface, it's easy to see why. Football is an emotive thing. There's a tribalism in supporting your team and wanting to beat whoever's in front of you.
It's easy to lambast the manager for "changing a winning team" (Wednesday had lost two on the trot before last night) or to blame the keeper (for conceding one penalty and the rebound from another that he'd saved). It's easy to be critical and suggest that our right back last night looked horribly out of his depth and that our centre midfield looked uneasy every time they might have to pass the ball forward. It's easy to bemoan players for not being able to take a corner without kicking it straight to the opposition (I'll hold my hand up as being guilty of that one).
And in the heat of the moment, you can forgive it to a degree. But an hour or so afterwards it's surely time to be objective and reasonable. Wednesday got promoted last season and are now adapting to a new level of the game where things are done faster and more mistakes are punished than they were last season. Three of the starting XI last night were fairly new to the club and looked a little short of fitness. Given their recent signings, they also haven't had much opportunity to play together as a team.
I realised last night that what makes my blood boil about football is other fans. The people on Twitter who make ridiculous statements based on nothing factual. The same people that can dish out abuse to players with one tweet and then send them a message praising them with the next. The old guy 4 rows behind me who dished out a non-stop expletive tirade at the referee after 80 minutes despite there being kids nearby. The idiot who threw something onto the pitch last night. The bloke at the side of me that got up and left his seat 5 times to smuggle a beer into his seat (North Stand, row 26, seat 31, you know who you are). Those people need to experience the real world. Watch the news or read a book. You're entitled to your opinion the same as me and every one else. But to do it in such an ignorant manner is appalling.
Calling for the manager who presided over (almost all of) our joint longest unbeaten run in history after 6 games is mind numbingly stupid. Blaming the keeper because you personally like the other goalie more is insane. Booing your own players is ridiculous. Maybe I should just stay off Twitter after the match.
I don't believe for a second that Wednesday have any right to go out and win a single game of football - you have to earn your points and accept the defeats when you weren't good enough. Sadly, last night was the latter. Finishing 4th bottom this season will be an achievement. I quietly predicted we'd finish 14th in May and I'll stick to that. Last night's game is over and all anyone can do is look forward to Saturday against Bolton.
I don't to rant. Last night was just a bad day in the office. It's a long time until May and I have no doubt the same lunatics who were ready to explode with rage last night will be eating their words in a few months (and will have conveniently forgotten all their hysterics by then). This is my 27th year visiting Hillsborough and stepping out of the concourse never gets tiring, regardless of how we play.
But I'm glad the club isn't my only reason for being.
Up the Owls.
P.S. Credit due to all 25,000 there last night for impeccably observing a moment's silence (and applause) for the Hillsborough Families and the 2 lads from the Yorkshire Regiment who died in Afghanistan