Issue 19
Homage to Catalonia
Andy Selman recounts the 1991/92 season

My mate had just got back from a holiday in Barcelona. "Trevor Francis as manager, you'll be lucky not to get relegated" So speaks the informed footballing knowledge of a Stoke City fan.

I suppose it's easy with hindsight but Trev's first two years as a manager were probably the best in Wednesday's recent history. We fell short of actually winning anything (which is clearly the real test of 'good'), but we played well most of the time, with the odd slip - losing by seven for example.

The season kicked off with Ron Atkinson returning with Villa. His reserved car parking plate still rusting in the Don and 'Judas' freshly painted out above the player's entrance. How we needed to win this one. It started fine with a cracking goal from Hirsty from the right hand side of the box into the top left of the net. Two nil from Danny Wilson who obviously took a lot of time practicing the timing of his runs into the box and cracking the ball from about 10 yards - he scored four or five over the season using the same move.

Then the game went all wrong! You may remember the detail? Old boy Dalian Atkinson played a big part in scoring one and making another of Villa's three goals. Chris Woods had been brought in for a club record of 1.2m and looked less than convincing.

It got better with the first away match of the season - a draw at L**ds. We got a scoring draw and should have won. My chief memory of this match was Paul Warhurst and his mazy runs from centre half - had we managed to find a continental style sweeper from Oldham Athletic? He certainly looked a good buy and as the season progressed became perhaps our most influential player.

Next came Everton and the start of Trev's 'Roy of the Rovers' script. As player manager, he'd wait until all look lost then bring himself on as sub either to score himself or put in a series of in perfect crosses for Hirsty to power into the net. Against Trev surpassed even himself, coming on as sub, ensuring we got the three points and then took himself off again for a breather.

QPR next and a hat trick for......?.... Hirsty - no, Willow - no, Trev - no. Step forward Carlton Palmer. Trev had done something to him. I'm not sure what, but that day his runs from midfield were timed to perfection - suddenly he's there in the box, and bang! In addition to Carlton's three, Sheridan scored out to be my second favourite goal of the season. - As a cross came over from the right the man maestro timed his run and volley from the outside of his boot to perfection and chipped the keeper. Sheridan was an excellent footballer and this was perhaps his best period. 4-1 blimey!

Next were Notts County away - and the start of Hirsty's bad injury record - when he seemed to trip over an invisible beer bottle. So he was out for two months and led to the signing which was not one of Trev's best - Nigel Jemson.

One to Forest at home next, and this time Trev scores against the man who made him the first £1m footballer.

More draws, plenty of wins and not many defeats left us in a healthy position by Christmas. Memories include Palace wearing a Brazil kit but being about as good as the wotmt first 11, Shezza's volley at Luton (my third favourite goal of the season), the signing of Bartman who claimed to be 17 but looked at least 27 and the increasingly cool way that Trev had of celebrating his goals - one arm in the air and a quick hand shake with the supplier of the ball. Low's - dark doings down the Lane.

Everton at Christmas and a Kop that is actually lower than the pitch (not good for a short arse) - but I still managed to see Hirsty's winner. Then collective wotmt flu for all of us, but plenty of Lemsips and Bass enabled the trip to QPR and a commendable away draw for the first match of 1992.

Next up L**ds at home for a tortuous 6-1 home thrashing with Lee Lee Lee getting about 14 of them. How we ended up coming third in a season where we managed to get thrashed 6-1 and 7-1 can be worked out by better statisticians than me.

Villa at home and revenge of sorts with a dubious win with a 'had it crossed the line' goal. With Smiler as ref (George Courtney) it's a wonder Seeley wasn't imprisoned for his end of game losing it big style. Seeley was a player that made Gordon Strachan look like he's on Prozac.

Cantona came and went - unable to wait for a trail on grass. Would he have been the missing link? - Could we have won it with him? We'll never know but my guess is - yes we could. Trev's worst mistake as Wednesday manager.

Luton home brought a goal from a fresh faced Scott Oakes with an away kit the Frank Zappa might worn to get married in.

The game also brought for me my favourite goal of the season and possibly of all time. Carlton ran down the wing and from a tight angle crossed it over to the far post where Hirsty was stood. Hirsty watched it coming towards him and rather than try and head it in, he stepped back a couple of paces and chested the ball down. Then a little chip volley before the ball had touched the ground. Johnny Harks stood waiting and with a cushioned header it was in the back of the net. Brilliant.

The rest of the season included a scorching free kick from Hirsty against Man U away. Home defeats by the piggys, several giant cardboard Stuart Pearces at Forest Away, and a man who had one chant every game that went attackattackattackattackattackattackattack - a bit like a Dalek on speed.

We were in the mix right up until the end of the season when we needed to win and Man U and L**ds not win. Football irony kicked in with Brighty scoring Palace's equaliser against us - he was of course to become an Owl next season. And Man U and L**ds won anyway.

The last game of the season and Trev and the boys did a lap of honour around Hillsborough. Gordy Watson wrapped himself in a homemade 'Owls in Europe' flag. We slavered about a trip to AC Milan or Barcelona - we were going to have our very own Homage to Catalonia.

Issue 19