On Saturday 22nd September I went to Hillsborough, the home of Sheffield Wednesday, to spend a day with their press team for the game against Bolton Wanderers.
I had visited Hillsborough twice last season, watching the Owls play Chesterfield and Sheffield United. After getting some great feedback on my reports from Sheffield Wednesday forums, I had decided to send my reports to the club. I received a wonderful reply from the Owls’ match reporter, Trevor Braithwait, who invited to me come to a game this season to gain some experience at a league club and get a taste for working in football reporting. I was delighted to get this opportunity and jumped at the offer, selecting to come to today’s game against Bolton Wanderers.
I arrived in plenty of time and had a wander around Hillsborough to take some photographs, taking in the Hillsborough memorial as well as getting some shots of the different areas of the stadium. Before arriving at the main reception, I noticed that the Sheffield Wednesday players were making their way in to the ground and as I waited I got pictures with Nejc Pecnik, Miguel Llera, Rhys McCabe, Michail Antonio, Paul Corry, Reda Johnson and Mark Beevers
Just before 1 o’clock I was greeted by Trevor, who had invited me to today’s game. He gave me a tour of the media areas stadium and I spent some time in these places, taking plenty of photographs and getting a feel for the media side of a matchday, before taking my seat in the press box. Phil Brown, the former Hull City manager and Bolton player was sitting close by. I went and spoke to him and he was happy to have a photograph with me.
Trevor sat with me during the game. It was very interesting to get a different perspective of a football match and it was a great experience for me personally as I hope to become a football reporter in the future.
The Owls came in to this game off the back of three straight defeats in Championship. Meanwhile, Bolton were having a mixed start to the season with just two victories in six games.
As a result of his sides poor run of form, which had culminated in a 3-1 defeat at home to Huddersfield Town in midweek, Dave Jones made six changes to the starting line up. Barcelona B loanee Rodri was included in the eleven while Gary Madine was one of those to be dropped to the bench.
Owen Coyle made just a single change to the Trotters side with Lee Chung Yong being replaced by Keith Andrews. Kevin Davies, David Ngog and Jay Spearing were just a few of those in the Wanderers line up who had previous Premiership experience.
The early exchanges were scrappy until on the 15th minute, 18 year old Ross Barkley saw his free kick clip the post after a deflection off the Bolton wall. The hosts had another chance to break the deadlock soon after when Rodri found Michail Antonio inside the box but the winger failed to make the most of the opportunity.
Chris Eagles, who had previously spent time on loan at Hillsborough, was given a golden opportunity to open the scoring for the visitors just before the half hour mark. Some smart play from Bolton’s attackers ended with Eagles receiving the ball just yards out, but he scuffed his effort wide of the target. Soon after, Eagles had another attempt but his chipped shot flew over the crossbar.
The visitors began to have the better of the play and David Ngog probably should have done better when his diving close range header went well off target.
However, with just a minute to go until the break, the Trotters finally took one of their chances and opened the scoring. Eagles’ corner found the head of Marcos Alonso and he directed the ball past Kirkland to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Bolton started the second period brightest and Ngog was just inches away from doubling the advantage early in the second period when he just couldn’t reach a low cross in front of goal.
Sheffield Wednesday were then handed a lifeline on the 62nd minute when Keith Andrews brought down Anthony Gardner inside the area to leave the referee with no option but to point to the spot. Barkley, who is currently on loan from Everton, stepped up and confidently converted the spot kick to level the score.
However, it took just 3 minutes for Wanderers to regain their lead courtesy of an unstoppable strike from Mark Davies. Davies beat a couple of players before firing the ball in to the top corner of Kirkland’s net, leaving the former England stopper with no chance.
The Owls did attempt to get back in to the game after this setback but never really threatened Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal. At the opposite end, Andrews forced a good save out of Kirkland before Barkley fired a long range shot straight at the Bolton goalkeeper in stoppage time. However, the visitors saw out the game with relatively little difficulty as the Owls fell to a fourth consecutive defeat.
The result meant that Sheffield Wednesday were two places above the relegation zone, however Barnsley defeated Birmingham City in the late kick off and this saw the Owls fall down a further place. Meanwhile Bolton moved in to double figure points and found themselves in 13th position at the final whistle.
After the game, I went to the post match press conferences from both managers as well as Wednesday player Kieran Lee. The room was filled with people from the media and it wasn’t long before Bolton manager Owen Coyle arrived for his interview. The Scotsman was visibly delighted with the victory and he said “Nobody who witnessed that game can argue that the better team won and that we gave a great performance.”
Next up was Kieran Lee, who had made his first start for the Owls today. He told the press that while today’s result wasn’t good, the start was a major confidence boost for him personally.
After a short wait, a clearly downbeat Dave Jones came in to the press room to give his view on the game. Jones warned the supporters not to get on the backs of the players and that “I think some of us got a bit carried away after such a good start.” He also mentioned that “it’s a building process and we are at the start of that”
Once the interviews were complete, I headed home after a great day. It had been a wonderful experience for me to get the chance to see how the media side of things work at a Championship club. It was an enjoyable and memorable day all around. Finally, I would like to say a big thanks to everyone at Sheffield Wednesday for inviting me to today’s game and a special mention to Trevor Braithwait who was kind enough to invite me, show me around and sit with me during the game.
Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Bolton Wanderers
Alonso ’44, Barkley (p) ’62, M Davies ’65Kirkland, Gardner, Taylor, D Jones, Antonio, McCabe (Semedo ’46), Lee, Barkley, Rodri (J Johnson ’58), Pecnik, Bothroyd (O’Grady ’75) Bogdan, Alonso, Mears, Mills, Knight, Eagles, Andrews (Pratley ’90), M Davies, Spearing, Ngog (Afobe ’66), K Davies Attendance: 26,598