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Welcome to the second edition of Get With the Programme, this time focussing on a previous meeting with our first Championship visitors of the season, Queens Park Rangers.

This time, we’re going back to the 2000/01 season, Saturday 2 December 2000 to be precise, and to a Wednesday team who were still adjusting to life outside the Premiership. Back then the division below the Premiership was still known as the First Division, and it was supposed to be a difficult league to get out of. Wednesday were actually making it look fairly easy, but not quite in the way we were all hoping for.
Having gone through a club record equalling eight consecutive defeats in the autumn, it’s fair to say that expectations had been adjusted rapidly and the ‘Premiership return tickets’ were looking like a serious breach of the Trade Descriptions Act.
Wednesday had found a little bit of form in the few weeks before this game, and were in the heady heights of 20th, with Huddersfield Town propping up the table.

Striker Efan Ekoku graced the cover, chasing the ball alongside a random Crewe defender (soory, no idea). Ekoku was on loan from Grasshoppers Zurich at the time, having made the jump to Hillsborough a few weeks into the season. He of course endeared himself to the Owls faithful by scoring his first two goals for the club in a 2-1 Worthington Cup win against the Blades.
Sorry to bang on about kits, but just look at it. Proper stripes, black shorts, blue socks and, er, a lollipop company sponsor bearing a logo designed by Salvador Dali. Well, you can’t have everything.

Wednesday were led at the time by the cheeky, loveable Scouser Paul Jewell. In his notes, Paul was bemoaning the Owls 1-0 defeat at Crewe on the previous Saturday. The Owls by all accounts made a very slow start to the game and allowed their hosts to dominate proceedings in the first half. In a glimpse of the sort of managerial acumen for which he was known throughout his time at Hillsborough, Paul explained the slow start thus : “..the simple fact that is that I don’t know. I honestly don’t know”

Paul was also keen to reinforce the squad, as the Owls were heavily reliant on young players at the time, and had been priced out of a permanent move for Man City’s Terry Cooke, who had just completed a successful loan spell.

The main interview in the programme was with the legendary Ashley Westwood, who had joined Wednesday in the summer from Bradford City. He had previously played for Crewe, and was bemoaning the state of the Gresty Road pitch. Ashley was keen to analyse the situation, stating “It’s since that new stand’s gone up. I’m not exactly sure why, but for some reason that’s definitely affected the pitch. Whether it’s drainage or that it’s blocking out the sunlight or something I’m not sure, but it was never that heavy when I was there. The other side of the pitch is alright, it’s just down that one side where the new stand’. Rumours that Westwood has embarked on a career as a groundsman since hanging up his boots may be unfounded.
Ashley was also keen to accentuate the positive, and thought the Owls could climb the table having come through a sticky patch, stating “it could be quite an interesting second half of the season”. We finished 17th.

Page 40 of the programme included a half page advert for a local firm of solicitors, featuring a picture of Andy Hinchcliffe clutching his ankle and putting on an ‘ooh that smarts’ expression. Andy obviously took his advertising career seriously as it was a pose he came to perfect during the rest of his playing career.
In opposition

QPR were really struggling at the time, and were to be relegated to the Second Division at the end of the season – a spell which coincided with them having some serious financial troubles. In charge of Rangers, in his second spell at the club, was Gerry Francis, sporting possibly the only proper football mullet to survive into the 21st century.

Some notable names in the QPR squad were:
Ludek Miklosko – goalkeeper affectionately known as ‘Ludo’ by at least a couple of people
Steve Morrow – ex Arsenal player who of course scored the winner against the Owls in the 1993 League Cup final, but was promptly dropped
Gavin Peacock – ex Chelsea striker who is nowadays a Christian minister
Others included Clarke Carlisle, Chris Kiwomya, Tim Breacker and Paul Peschisolido.

The match

It was to be a rare bright spot in an otherwise pretty painful season, with the Owls running out 5-2 winners and the enigmatic Gerald Sibon grabbing a hat-trick.
Sibon gave Wednesday the lead before a young Peter Crouch (signed for £60,000 from Spurs) brought QPR level. Sibon restored the advantage, before Owen Morrison – then a promising youngster before he decided on a career change to become a complete waster – scored a fine solo goal just before the break.
Sibon completed his hat trick just after the interval, with Ekoku adding the fifth, before Crouch got a consolation before the end.
Incidentally, it was the second time Rangers’ keeper Miklosko had conceded five at Hillsborough, having also been the custodian for West Ham in a certain game back in 1993……
Here’s hoping for more of the same on Saturday.  

Unread article 11/08/2017 at 14:47


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