Sheffield Wednesday
Keith Hackett reflects on his days as a Sheffield Wednesday fan, ahead of this weekend’s Play-Off Final

In the late 1950s when Sheffield Wednesday were at home, my dad would take me along to games at Hillsborough.

It involved a three-mile walk past terraced housing and then onto the banks of the River Don, joining hundreds of fans along the way.

There was a pub and a pie shop, which were mandatory stops, and after taking in the refreshments (orange pop for me, a couple of pints for my dad) the final steps quickened in our anticipation of witnessing a Wednesday win.

We took up our regular places on the Kop and I would be handed down over the heads of the fans to take up a position at the front behind the goal.

These were my first sightings of Derek Dooley who was Wednesday’s regular top scorer and who became my footballing hero.

Sadly over recent months, Hillsborough has been in the news for all the wrong reasons and I hope one day that the club will rebuild the Leppings Lane end of the ground, the scene of tragedy when 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives.

In a few days time the revitalised Sheffield Wednesday team will be at Wembley for the Championship Play-Off final, attempting to make that giant step into the Premier League.

There is no doubt that officiating this game, which is worth well over £100million to the winner, presents a big challenge to the appointed referee and his colleagues.

I wish the appointed referee, Bobby Madley, all the best. However, I do question once again the appointment process of the PGMOL. Mike Dean, along with his colleagues, Mark Clattenburg, Anthony Taylor and Martin Atkinson, have been in consistent top form throughout this season.

With Clattenburg appointed to the FA Cup Final and Atkinson recovering from injury, my choice would have been Dean or Taylor, both of whom should have been officiating a Play-Off game at Wembley.

My preference for the big one would without doubt have been Dean, a man for the big occasion and the one that I am sure will be disappointed not to get a visit to Wembley on this occasion.

Well done Clattenburg, Dean and Taylor, you have delivered big time for the PGMOL this season.

We also send our best wishes to Atkinson who has certainly had one of his best seasons and we all hope he recovers in time for the European Championships.