Filed: Monday, 19th September 2005
By: Matthew Coker
So the first cup tie of the season sees us at Wednesday on a Tuesday for the second round of the Carling Cup.
I’ll throw in a bit of a past, present and future element to this review, starting with my favourite memory of a trip home from Hillsborough. It was around 1994, a dire 1-0 top flight defeat when Harry Redknapp's boys had created nothing during the full 90 minutes. Five minutes before the end of the game, an announcement comes over the tannoy to inform all of the West Ham fans to leave the ground as soon as possible as we were being let out first and that courtesy buses were waiting to take us all back to the station. Lovely we though, piling on the bus and sat there. And sat there. And sat there until nearly every single Wednesday supporter had gone past.
By now everyone is starting to get irate and the top deck are shouting at the driver to get moving but to no avail. One wag stands up, tells everyone to leave it to him as he speaks a bit of Yorkshire. He pops his head down the stairs and calls down,
“T’driver, can thee move thy boose?”
To which engine starts up and West Ham trundle off to Sheffield station.
The current Owls team ply their trade in the Championship, promoted like us via the play offs last season. So far this season, they have been finding their feet in the new division, their opening games yielded three draws (vs Stoke, Hull, and QPR) and three defeats (vs Southampton, Ipswich and Leicester City).
The Carling Cup first round gave them a much needed victory, albeit in extra time away to Stockport and the league breakthrough finally came last week against Yorkshire rivals, Leeds United. They were unable to build on this on Saturday losing 2-1 to our hated rivals and currently sit bottom of the league.
The manager is Paul Sturrock, not a fan of the weekly pools coupon. He was a one club man as a player amassing 600 appearances for Dundee United and weighing in with 200 goals. His management career started briefly north of the border before moving nearly as far down south as you can go to manage Plymouth. Promotion from the Third Division with 102 points was enough to catch the eye of Southampton and he was appointed successor to Gordon Strachen in 2004.
It may have been a jump too far and he did not appear quite ready for the pressures of the Premiership and poor results and dressing room unrest led to his departure after five months in charge. He was appointed manager at Wednesday in September 2004 and led them to promotion in his first season in charge.
In goal is David Lucas, a man who looked to have peaked in pre season when he saved three penalties and scored the winner in a penalty shootout with Wolves, winning the game almost single handedly. In front of him line up John Hills, Richard Wood, American Frankie Simek, who made a single appearance for the Arsenal and summer signing Graham Coughlan who joined from Plymouth in the summer and opened his scoring account against the pikies.
The midfield should feature Irishmen Glenn Whelan & Chris Brunt (who weighed in with 5 goals last season), South African Burton O’Brien, signed from Livingstone in the summer and Chris Eagles, the goalscorer against Leeds who is on loan at the club from Manchester United. The 19 year old England youth international is a creative midfielder who takes a decent free kick. The Owls have also had Craig Rocastle also featuring in recent games.
The strike force is made up of two Scots, Lee Peacock, who has managed eight goals in thirty games for Wednesday including two this season already and David Graham, who joined from Wigan in the summer and is still awaiting his first goal for the Owls. Adam Proudlock has been on the subs bench for all games so far this season and they were unfortunate to lose 18 year old Leon Best to injury after he had scored against Hull City early in the season, the youngster on loan from Southampton had looked a decent prospect.
Having covered the past and present, I’ll spend the rest of the piece speculating the future. In the short term, this is one that we should win. I am sure that Pards will not be complacent regarding the opposition or the competition but I expect we will be looking to field players of the calibre of Elliot Ward, James Collins, Mark Noble, Shaun Newton and Jeremy Aliadiere in this game. Nevertheless, I still think that the gulf in divisions and difference in form should shine through for a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Long term, I hope that this will be the start of a decent Carling Cup campaign. It may be far fetched but with a bit of luck with the draws and a few good performances, a third trip to the Stade de Taff in three years is not totally out of the question. It would be fantastic to be sitting in the Centenary stand on 7th May 2006, having avoided relegation the week before and being able to sing “We’re all going on a European tour” to the deluded North London muppets as they do their usual trick of just missing out on a UEFA cup spot to Middlesbrough or someone. A bit of a dream, I know, but which bit of this season so far hasn’t been?
For those making the trip up, have a safe journey and enjoy the game.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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