BLOG | Derby Day Memories

BLOG | Derby Day Memories

Here we are then: the Steel City Derby.

After five and a half years waiting, it’s back.

Many cannot wait to be rid of it again.

For others, these games can define a season. They are everything.

It’s great to have them back.

We’re kicking off our own build-up with a few derby retrospectives. For most fans, football is our game because of the memories it creates.

The atmospheres, the long journeys, the goals, the time spent with family.

Derby matches, because of the added meaning, often thrust these moments to the forefront of our mind.

Our particular rivalry enjoyed a resurgence in the last ten years, as Wednesday and United sat on an even keel in the Championship.

After both clubs were relegated, a joint promotion race added yet another layer of feeling.

And now, of course, after a five season hiatus, the derby has become cherished in its absence.

Let us whet the appetite ahead of Sunday by turning to our contributors.






Favourite derby – The more obvious ones are 2012 and 1993 but when we were regular Championship strugglers in the 2000s, we more often than not had their number.

The double of 2008/09 holds a special place in my heart, Watson’s seemingly effortless flick over Paddy Kenny at Hillsborough followed by Tommy Spurr and Marcus Tudgay’s thunderbastard at Bramall Lane were awesome moments.

Some strike

For Tudgay’s strike, who can forget that chap in the home end who thought it was going wide?

September 2002 was a good one too, a heroic performance from Kevin Pressman and Lloyd Owusu scoring on his first touch in a SWFC shirt was magic.

Derby Day redemption – Lewis Buxton in 2012 for sure, in 2009 he had a torrid time and scored an own goal giving them lot a 3-0 half time lead at Bramall Lane and it took years to earn back the love of the Owls fans, his performance and assist in the 2012 derby win completed his evolution from Beswetherick to White Cafu.

Blade I couldn’t stand – Chris Morgan, Ched Evans, Paddy Kenny – do I need to give reasons why?

What about the promotion race? – How that last minute winner by Antonio against Carlisle swung the tables in our favour. How pretty much every Owl I know wherever they were cheered for Stevenage after we had somehow beaten Brentford? How we realised in the last minutes of the Wycombe game that the city was ours?






Spurr makes it 1-0 at the Lane

I’ve had some great moments at football and I can’t remember most of them but the Steve Watson goal – watching the walrus flounder – and the Tudgay goal at the Lane are right up there…

The Tommy Spurr goal too same game when we did the double… I always loved Tommy… a smashing lad on and off the pitch and a real credit to his parents… when Mickey Gray pulled that ball back for him – blimey!

But I think the Tudders goal surpasses even the play off final stuff and I love that like breathing..!

The venom from their fans at that game… where we were stood… the whole lot was a big melting pot and I spent most of the game shielding Hollie and worrying about her but when he lobbed that chuffer in I thought my heart was going to explode.

Considering the amount of Wednesday fans that have lived and died without ever having that in their lives let alone experiencing it up close and personal like we did was just about as good as football gets in my opinion.

An emotional moment indeed, with some Owls Alivers there too to help make it even more special.






I spent most of my school years outnumbered by United fans at a time when they were a superior side and mostly had the beating of us in derbies.

Twice they completed the double over us in the space of 10 years.

Even Wednesday’s one success during those years – the 2005 promotion – was tempered by United going one better the following campaign.

I never said it, but United had everything I wanted in a Wednesday side: hard as nails defenders, a smattering of quality, an identity. Sure, it was the wrong identity, but I wanted one.

They had some grade-A arseholes as well, yet I almost respected them.

The 2011-12 season was my payback. The lads who had given me stick for years now got it back across the pubs and clubs of Chesterfield. Halcyon days.

Iconic (The Star)

Suddenly in that season, in the image of Gary Megson and with the late spark of Dave Jones, Wednesday had everything a third tier side could dream of: the defence, a blend of youth and experience; the midfield, with emerging heroes and precocious talents; the forwards, personalities and goal scorers all.

We’ll never be able to quantify the importance of that Chris O’Grady goal in 2012, but would the season have played out so dramatically if a goalless draw had prevailed? I think not.

Do United come to Hillsborough seeking revenge? No. Will that temper fans’ expectations of getting some? No.

Sunday will be everything we cherish in our footballing lives: dramatic moments, charged atmospheres, unbearable tension and, hopefully, a couple of special goals.

Of course, it’s just another three points.






Like all Wednesday fans I’ve been raised on the idea that our proximity to our red neighbours means we need to despise them. This logic in football has always baffled me, but like all Wednesdayites, I’ve hated Sheffield United as long as I can remember.

These games are special to everyone, you’d give anything to be there (until you lose!).

My dad was once famously offered tickets to any game in the country by his boss as a gift. The boss in question wasn’t that into football, but clearly expected to be at Manchester United vs Chelsea that weekend, little did the poor man know my dad was dragging him down to Bramall Lane for the derby because it was his best chance of getting there. We probably lost.

One of my earliest memories of football was the famous derby double.

Playing football in the garden with Radio Sheffield blaring (we couldn’t get tickets for the away game) led to one of my all-time favourite bits of football commentary.

I stopped playing as Paul Walker’s voice sped up “Kilgallon wins it but gives it straight to Tudgay”.

This was it. A big moment.

“He now motors forward, Clarke trying to get in position for him”.

You could almost sense something special was coming.

Paul Walker sensed it. We all sensed it.


My football was lost to a hedge as me and my dad went barmy in the garden, barely hearing Walker ranting on breathlessly about Tudgay’s wonder-strike.

Watching that one back after the game was special, it still is now.

The rest of my memories are pretty recent and common (favourite derby: 2012, best performer: O’Grady surely, worst moments: Buxton’s own goal), so I’ve decided to share my Dad’s older memories as well.




Matt’s Dad, Chris

Football is a sport which experiences huge highs and demoralising lows. Derby games are all of this and more. Unbelievable to win, devastating to lose.

Terry Curran on his knee-slide celebration: ‘I was pelted with coins. Hundreds of them. I was on 300 quid a week, and I swear I’d have earned more if I’d picked them all up!”

The game on 26 December 1979 will remain in the memories of all Sheffield football supporters for ever.

The league contained all the local clubs apart from Doncaster but this was the big one. Going into the game United were riding high, while Wednesday were not doing so well.

Then again in the mercurial Terry Curran we had the potential match winner. A player of First Division quality who had somehow ended up at Hillsborough.

A midday kick off on Boxing Day, just what we all needed. At least that is what 49300 people thought who turned up to create a record attendance for the division that will surely never be beaten.

I, along with many others, shuffled onto the then colossal kop with my brother-in-law.

It started well with a great long shot from Ian Mellor (Spider) into the top corner.

We were all set but it was in the second half with the predictable goal in front of the United supporters from Curran that set us up.

Two more followed from Jeff King and the always dependable Mark Smith with a late penalty. United’s star, Alex Sabella, never got into the game. A Jack Charlton master class and the legend that is the Boxing Day Massacre was born.



Thanks to all our regular contributors for their memories, and especially to Chris for his perspective on the Boxing Day Massacre.

Stick with Owls Alive over the coming days as we continue with our build up to Sunday.



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