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Looking Forward From Afar…

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The close season is a weird time for most football fans, and I think we're all getting to the stage now where the withdrawal symptoms have escalated into some sort of full-blown football deficiency disease. We're like addicts denied their fix for a bit too long - twitchy, frustrated, not much fun to be around, ranting at strangers in the street. OK maybe that last one's just me, but I think it's fair to say the new season can't come round soon enough. But is it different for a long distance Owl?

Firstly, I should probably explain how I ended up supporting the Wednesday from afar. I have never lived in Sheffield, don't really know my way round the city and have only had Hendo's relish about half a dozen times. I'm a fully fledged Southern softie.

Thankfully though, I have Sheffield, and in particular Sheffield Wednesday, running through my veins. My Dad brought me up right, and fair play to him, made me a mad keen Owl from an early age. Once I had my own car, I and a mate (who I converted to Wednesday in his teens) have made the pilgrimage to Hillsborough on a pretty regular basis. Work and family make it a bit more difficult these days, but we still get up there when we can - and now my son is a convert too.

So for me, last season ended at 1.45am on the morning of 18th May after a tortuous trip back down the M1 (shut near Nottingham), the M42 and the M5 (shut near Worcester). Rather than having to face the glum faces of fellow Owls, the gloating of Blunts, or the confusion of Millers who lost count in the penalty shootout, I wandered into the office the day after to just a couple of vaguely commiserative comments. Most of my work colleagues didn't even know the result, or even that I'd been to a game.

You see, Gloucestershire is not exactly a hotbed of football. In May the county doubled its number of Football League ( sorry 'EFL' ) teams, and they struggle to get 5,000 fans between them. So I never feel further away from Sheffield than in the close season. Owlsonline is about the only connection to Wednesday I have. There's not much football conversation in our office at all, so I don't get the general buzz and gossip unless I get online.

When the fixtures come out, of course I look for the derby game first, but after that it's the more accessible away games that interest me : Birmingham, Villa, Cardiff and Bristol City for example. Probably the ones that the rest of you find a right balls ache. Then I'm looking at the Saturday home games and trying to work out which ones I can get to before Sky or SYP start to make life more difficult.

To be honest, pre season friendlies aren't really worth the effort of travelling, same goes for Owls in the Park I'm afraid, so for me it's a real cold turkey experience. No gradual build up of games, just a launch straight into the season itself.

Does this mean, as a long distance Owl, I look forward to the season more than others? I wouldn't say that, but what I do know is I'm massively looking forward to seeing Hillsborough again, or following another way if I can't get to a game. Jeff and his mates, or 'men watching men playing football' as my mate used to call it, is my staple on a Saturday, but maybe that's something for another day.

I was really hoping that we would be at home first game as I go on holiday for a couple of weeks after that. Bloody Preston away, not what I wanted at all. It's looking very much like my first home game of the season will be on Sunday September 24th against someone or other......Now that's getting back in at the deep end.

CheltOwl

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Unread article 03/08/2017 at 22:58

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