Brian Barry-Murphy and Jon Beswetherick have the distinction of joining Ola Tidman in the worst of the worst of our post-2000 odyssey.

Now we fill out the back four as OwlsAlive looks at the centre of the defence.

One rule for admission, the player must have made at least ten appearances for the club so unfortunately Chris Carr won’t be making the cut.




In 2008/09 Wednesday finished in the relatively comfortable position of 12th (until last season, our second best post-Premier League finish), the Owls had made Hillsborough a tough place to come conceding just 14 goals with a core back five of Lee Grant, Lewis Buxton, Richard Wood, Mark Beevers and Tommy Spurr.

Brian Laws had decided that the relatively youthful back four needed an injection of experience and opted for Darren Purse who had experience with Leyton Orient, Oxford, Birmingham, WBA and Cardiff prior to his arrival.

He was immediately named team captain much to the displeasure of Richard Wood who was out of Hillsborough before the January transfer window.

Purse and another former Owl

Needless to say, he hardly led by example, often being the worst defender on the pitch, his hapless play making those around him worse instead of better as the Owls plummeted toward relegation.

Things weren’t much better in League One as the Owls still looked shaky at the back on a regular basis and with the club taken over and Alan Irvine bringing in Michael Morrison and Reda Johnson, Purse was released and immediately joined Millwall, his debut saw his team ship four goals.

He’s been around since and last I heard was plying his trade at Bishop’s Stortford.




In a Championship relegation struggle, some say experience is needed, and when Chris Turner signed Dean Smith few could argue against his experience but he had never played a game in the Championship having spent his career in the lower divisions playing for Walsall, Hereford United and Leyton Orient.

Wednesday were pretty much doomed on his arrival in February 2003 and although the Owls made a decent fist of attempting to escape, it wasn’t enough.

The second former captain in this list

He was named captain in the summer of 2003 but after a good start, the Owls faltered and ended up finishing just three points clear of the relegation places with the captain turning in quite a number of hapless displays.

Smith was released at the end of 2003/04 season retiring after a brief stint of Port Vale but has had quite a successful managerial career to date, his good work at Walsall leading to Brentford appointing him.




Sometimes in football, players come to a club with a glowing reputation but for whatever reason it just doesn’t work out.

Morrison in action for Charlton

Michael Morrison is one of those examples, when Alan Irvine decided to retool the defence from scratch, Morrison was brought in from Leicester City along with Reda Johnson from Plymouth and Mark Reynolds from Motherwell.

The centre back pairing of Reda Johnson and Michael Morrison didn’t gel at all and one or both often made errors that led to sloppy goals, Irvine was sacked shortly after a 4-0 loss at Orient followed by a 5-3 defeat at Peterborough and things didn’t get much better under new gaffer Gary Megson.

In fact things got so bad that Megson resorted to bringing in Rob Jones and Danny Batth.

The pair would form a core central defensive partnership for the bulk of the 2011/12 season, with Reda Johnson discovering a new niche at left back.

There was no room for Morrison who was sold to Charlton where he was a key part of their promotion winning side but his short stint at Wednesday was filled with defending that Jon Beswetherick would be proud of.

Extra points go to Morrison for his thoroughly twattish behaviour since leaving Wednesday: playing the big-I-am after the FA Cup fifth round game against Charlton that denied the city a knockout derby where Wembley was the prize.




The summer of 2004 was one of upheaval at Wednesday with Chris Turner releasing 13 players and bringing in 10, the infamous Turner’s Ten had a couple of gems but Branston wasn’t one of them.

He signed for SWFC from neighbours Rotherham United after a fine stint at Millmoor, but ill-discipline and poor play, often getting Wednesday into a pickle led to his downfall.

A sending off at Tranmere didn’t help his cause and after other poor performances, notably in a 4-2 home defeat to Hull City, Paul Sturrock decided to cut Turner’s losses and send Branston out on loan to Peterborough.

Branston retired in 2014 after a 19 club, 16 year career. His biggest regret was not making more of a success of his brief stint at Hillsborough.




A penniless man’s Paul Warhurst, Tony Crane was a physical presence, standing at 6 foot 5, the academy graduate made his debut in September 2000 as a defensive midfielder.

His frame and build led to him being deployed at centre-back and very occasionally at centre-forward. Crane had the physical tools to be a success but one thing held him back: he was crap and inconsistent, the odd flash of good overshadowed by the numerous shadows of crap.

Never a regular at S6, Crane never held down a place in a struggling side and departed Hillsborough for Grimsby in the summer of 2003 where his rapid weight gain led to the unflattering nickname “Fat Tony”.

After suffering another relegation at Grimsby, he would join Worksop and would get relegated there too.

As a utility man I could argue a place for him in a few positions but I’ll stick him here.




Now coach at Malaysian Super League side Penang FA

Paul Jewell was a fan of Westwood, first signing him for Bradford City and later for Wednesday after an initial loan.

Westwood was a regular in a rotten side and although he had his moments – scoring in a League Cup win at West Ham and in a rare moment of fight scoring in a win for the doomed Owls at table topping Portsmouth – he was far from the standard needed at the time.

His Hillsborough career was littered with yellow cards, bad play and although some could argue he was a decent player at a rotten club, his lack of success elsewhere post Hillsborough would negate this point.




To be absolutely honest I could have thought of a fair few names who would easily slot in at centre-back in this XI, Leigh Bromby, Steve Haslam, Danny Maddix, Richard Hinds, Miguel Llera, Kamil Zayatte and Martin Taylor were all seriously considered but didn’t quite make the cut.



As ever, vote on Twitter to make your voice heard and decide who joins Tidman, Barry-Murphy and the main man himself in The Beswetherick XI.




Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @MoseleyOwl

Images: SWFC

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