FOREST AWAY: Sheffield Wednesday, Saturday 14th March
“It is a strange paradox that while the grief of football fans (and it is real grief) is private – we each have an individual relationship with our clubs. We are secretly convinced that none of the other fans understands quite why we have been hit harder than anyone else.”
(Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch)
Just like nobody else can possibly comprehend the depths and pain of your own hangover (despite everyone having suffered their own), nobody else can possibly comprehend how much it hurts to wake up on a Saturday morning with no football to attend and only the smoldering wreckage of a Friday night 3-0 home defeat to Millwall to accompany you for the duration of the weekend – right up until Sunday evening when that ‘Sunday evening before work tomorrow’ feeling will kick in. Joy.
The shenanigans that was Millwall were just as bewildering as it was predictable. That’s not to say that a Matt Smith hat trick before half time with no reply was top of the prediction pile but more to say that actually, yeah, going three down at home to Millwall on a Friday night with Matt Smith dumping all three into the Trent End net – just like Jordan Rhodes did a bit back – actually kind of makes perfect sense. It’s really not that surprising. It’s what we do from time to time.
We console ourselves with the universal fact that this team makes amendments after a poor performance, like a toddler smashing a glass of milk on the floor only to look up at us with big, sad, sorry doe-eyes and then doing something brilliant like cleaning the fridge and buying you flowers. Given the oddness of the performance at Middlesbrough, received wisdom dictated that we’d rectify that against Millwall. We really didn’t.
Suddenly the game at Hillsborough seems like a litmus test for how the run-in will play out. Win and everything will be alright: after all, stuff like Millwall happens once in a while. Lose and that valuable thing called momentum will feel like something from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
So, to Sheffield. There are obvious parallels between Wednesday and Cardiff in that both teams have employed magic, witchcraft and sorcery to sustain a long unbeaten run against us. We recently broke the Cardiff spell so anything is possible.
TRAIN: Trains between Nottingham and Sheffield are plentiful and cheap – every 30 minutes and an open return ticket for £12.10. Hillsborough is around three miles away. Your options are to walk, get a taxi, go by bus or use the Supertram.
If bus, the bus station is right opposite – you will need the number 53 to Ecclesfield. For the Supertram, there is a stop right next to the railway station and they run every ten minutes during the day. Leaving the station on a YELLOW tram, going towards Middlewood, you will reach the Leppings Lane stop which best serves the away end.
If drinking up near the main area of bars on West Street use the Cathedral stop (ITEM C on the map below). On previous occasions, the tram has been so packed that nobody has checked tickets but you are a law-abiding and up-standing member of the community.
To walk, your feet are attached to the bottom of your legs. Put one in front of the other and repeat.
If you do go by train, The Brewery Tap at Sheffield train station is well worth a moment of your time. According to the Guardian, ‘its rooms are an Edwardian feast of glazed tiling, ornamental plasterwork and polished wood. Some 23 cask and keg taps and a list of 200 bottles run the gamut of good beer, from brewers Atom to Wild Weather. In particular, expect to find plenty of Thornbridge and the pub’s own Tapped Brew Co beers, some brewed on-site. You will find a gleaming copper brew kit in the lounge.’
ROAD: Leave the M1 at Junction 36 and follow the A61 into Sheffield. Continue along the A61 for approximately eight miles. You will see Hillsborough Stadium on your right. This is not the shortest route to the ground, but this is definitely the easiest and avoids Sheffield City Centre.
Parking (mainly taken from the Football Ground Guide)
There is some street parking to be had if you arrive early, although some roads near to Hillsborough are permit only, so make sure to check for warning signs before you park. Otherwise, there are some unofficial car parks along the A61 that charge in the region of £4. There is a car park directly behind the Kop and the Wednesday Club shop. It is called the Wednesdayite car park and is open to fans of both teams. It costs £7 for visitors and the postcode is S6 1QE.
Alternatively, you may find it easier to park at Meadowhall Railway Station, near to the well known Shopping Centre just by Junction 34 of the M1, where you can park for free and then take a yellow tram to Leppings lane, which costs £3 return and takes about 35 minutes. You can do shopping there too if you really want to experience mind-numbing tedium and watch your soul dissolve slowly out of your body into a pathetic puddle on the floor which will remain there for days until some poor sod comes and mops it up. Your choice.
We are planning a pre-game gathering at The Leadmill nightclub where we congregated before the match at Brammall Lane last season. We would love for you to join us there.
The plan, like always, is simple. Numbers, decent music and the beers flowing. We’ll be taking over the DJ booth again cranking out the Forest songs aswell as taking any requests you may have. With close to 5,000 Forest going to the game we can hopefully get a decent turnout.
Leadmill is really simple to reach from Sheffield station – head left out the main entrance and you’ll be there in a few minutes. The enclosed map shows just how close it is.
As Hillsborough is a bit of a distance from the city centre we’ll probably look to wrap up before 2pm. As explained above you have a few options to reach to the ground. The tram is probably going to be the preferred option for most but the proximity from Leadmill to the train station does mean there should be plenty of cabs available too.
The tram from the station (ITEM A on the map) does not go direct to Leppings Lane. You can stay on to the Hillsborough stop and walk or jump off at the next stop after the station (Fitzalan Square) which will take you to Leppings Lane. Or you could do the ten minute walk straight to Fitzalan Square (ITEM B on the map) from Leadmill – probably the easiest option of the lot. With most getting on the tram further up in town doing this also makes it more likely you’ll beat the crowds to a spot on the tram. They do get absolutely packed.
Leadmill will open at 10am. Please try and join us as early as you can – with this being what is now a rare Saturday 3pm game we intend to make the most of it. And who knows, this could end up the last game of the season if you listen to some!
Finally – please note you will need to be 14 or over to get in Leadmill. Juveniles under this age, even with an adult, will not be allowed in. Sorry to disappoint but as this is a nightclub the management cannot shift on the policy.
Elsewhere you are not going to struggle for drinking holes across the city. Personal favourites are the Sheffield Tap at the station, the Brown Bear next to the Crucible and the Frog & Parrot further up on Devonshire Street.
A popular area is West Street with a few Forest often found in The Cavendish.
Closer to the ground The Railway is the common choice and is probably the main place for away fans albeit it welcomes home fans too.
After the game if you are making your way back via tram to the city centre you will face a battle to get on board. Conductors usually corden off a waiting area at the Leppings Lane stop and will check tickets and prevent anyone getting on who hasn’t paid. In recent years we have set off down the line to the Rawsons Spring Wetherspoons. It’s a bit of a walk but covers some of the journey back to town and lets the crowds die down. Across the road is the Hillsborough Interchange stop where an emptier tram will take us back to Sheffield afterwards.
Wednesday fan Laura Lawrence was kind enough to explain why Sheffield Wednesday keep beating us.
We have managed just one win in the last ten games against the Owls and the less said about our last meeting (a 4-0 defeat at our place) the better. But from your perspective, your season seems to have stalled since then and you find yourselves as one of the very few teams in this league marooned in mid-table with little to play for. What’s gone wrong?
How long have you got? Soft transfer embargoes, FPP points deduction currently in arbitration for selling Hillsborough stadium back to ourselves and the chairman countersuing the EFL for knowingly allowing us to use this loophole, Steven Fletcher getting injured when he was in the form of his life and now the words “donkey’s arse” and “banjo” are very relevant to us, Garry Monk not endearing himself to fans or senior players…oh and the club have started charging £4.80 for a pint and £2.00 for a half.
That’s just for starters…
Blimey. We seem to have some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship with you. Wednesday and Forest fans seem to have a healthy degree of respect for each others’ clubs despite the fact that you lot keep bludgeoning us on the field. Perhaps this is down to us being very similar: fairly big clubs in big cities that have spent an awful long time in the Championship and have even tasted League One. Or maybe it’s simply a shared dislike of Sheffield United. Or perhaps a shared love of Des Walker. How do you see this weird relationship of mutual respect?
I agree there is a shared respect between Forest and Wednesday. I think it’s purely because it’s like having a mirror held up to each other. We’ve had very similar trajectories (mainly downward.)
What’s the latest with the Prohibition Notice placed on two main exits at Leppings Lane that banned access for home fans? Does this affect away fans?
It’s added to Wednesday supporters’ anger surrounding the club this season, especially those who sit on the North Stand. The Prohibition Notice was deemed to be ‘technically incorrect’ in its wording so has been lifted…for now. This means Wednesday and away fans can now enter and exit the stadium via the Leppings Lane end. It has no bearing on Forest fans only you might see some Wednesdayites as you come and go.
Your club is currently on the nighty step awaiting punishment for the sale of Hillsborough to company owned – rather conveniently – by your owner, Dejphon Chansiri for £60m. It all seems rather messy with the charges revolving around (according to Alex Miller in The Star) when the stadium was sold and the fact that it was included in the 2018 accounts despite cash having only been transferred a year later – and only in instalments.
Furthermore, There are also question marks over why the stadium was not correctly registered with the Land Registry until over a year after the apparent sale and how the property could have been purchased by a company that did not formally exist at the time of the sale. The club say the charges will be ‘vigorously defended’. Are the fans losing patience with Chansiri?
Yes and no. There seems to be nowhere to really vent our frustration at the moment. The team are getting a lot of the flack and rightly so they’ve been awful recently but the lack of communication from Chansiri has been very telling. Being a Wednesdayite at the moment feels very much like being a mortgage prisoner; you bought in at the height of the promotion hype but now the value of your club, players and assets have tumbled and you’re trapped with nowhere to go and at the mercy of an organisation waiting swoop in a repossess the lot.
I’m feeling cheery about Wednesday at the moment as you can tell.
Losing heavily at home to Derby more than adequately explains that. Barry Bannan is quite good isn’t he? And according to this, Steven Fletcher is only 32 (this must be wrong, surely, he’s nearer 36?). Is there anything else to fear from you apart from a deep cross from Bannan to the far post where Fletcher will bundle in a far post header?
Bannan is brilliant on his day. He can pinpoint a cross perfectly. Other days he just runs in circles in front of the defensive line, getting in other people’s way. Steven Fletcher is everything I want from a striker, hardworking, scores goals and provides for others. It’s been a long few months without him.
Do you have anything to fear? That depends on what players’ names are picked out of Garry Monk’s lucky dip bag that day. Your guess is as good as ours. Let’s face it, you resurrected Jordan Rhodes last match and we haven’t seen him since.
Obviously there are lots of decent pubs in the city centre (The Brown Bear being a particular favourite – dead cheap). Are there any near the ground that welcome visiting fans?
Not really around the ground. The Railway on Penistone Road North is the only pub closest the ground that serves away fans (as far as I’m aware). As for decent, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Better to have one in town before you make your way to the ground. If you want craft ales, Shalesmoor has now become the Shoreditch of Sheffield. Lots of nice bars in around there; part of the real ale trail.
And can you offer any tips on parking? (In the past, I’ve parked near Wordsworth Avenue off Cookson Park but am wondering whether that area now requires a permit.)
This is a very tricky one now. After the Prohibition Notice, Sheffield City Council announced a lot of road closures before, during and after matches just to make it extra special difficult for Wednesdayites (I’m convinced they’re trying to get us to move).
I’d check the SWFC website before the match under Residents information if there are specific road closures. Wordsworth Avenue (S5 9JL) around Cookson is good, not too far from the ground. No parking restrictions around that estate. Herries Road (S5 7AT) if you get there early enough.
Choose one of the following scenarios:
Wednesday somehow make the play-offs and achieve promotion but spend next season struggling to beat Derby County’s record low points hall in the Premier League
Owing to the Coronavirus, Sheffield United’s season is expunged from the records – it never happened.
It would have to be scenario A. You can’t spend your life concerned with the dark half of the city; if so, you’re not concentrating enough on your own club. It pains me to say it but they’re doing brilliantly this season but I’m more concerned by Wednesday and what we’re doing. Terrible points haul please followed by a boatload of Premier League cash to sort us out for a few years.
Given recent results for both teams, the game is likely to resemble a couple of tribute bands scrapping it out in a pub car park.
They’ll probably swing and miss each other.
Thanks to Laura (@YICETOR) for helping us out with these honest, interesting and enlightening responses.
See you there. Dave.