Stuart Holden is looking for games and he’s likely to get them over the next month on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. With Bolton in the hunt for the playoffs and a return to the Premier League, they don’t have the luxury of immediately putting Holden back into the lineup after so much time missed recovering from injury. That’s where Sheffield Wednesday comes in, a club in real threat of relegation in need of better players.
Why Are We Here?
The last time we talked about Sheffield Wednesday and a US National Team player, it was when Frank Simek was with the Owls from 2005-10. Simek made 119 appearances with the club during their last stretch in the Championship. Since then, it hasn’t been easy for Sheffield Wednesday. Taking players on loan, they hope to turn April into the month that matters for them this season, giving them enough points to stave off relegation to League One.
And Where Are We?
Sheffield, more specifically the suburb of Owlerton, thus the snazzy nickname. Located in South Yorkshire, Sheffield has just over 640,000 people living in its urban area. It’s a steel city historically, but like the Rust Belt in the United States it’s had to adapt over the last few decades. Unlike most of those US cities, Sheffield hasn’t had a marked population decline. In soccer terms, Sheffield has two strongly supported teams, United and Wednesday, that have a tough time playing in the same division. When Wednesday were topflight in the 90s, United weren’t. When United were a Premier League team in the mid-2000s, well, you get the idea. United are currently in League One with Wednesday a league higher.
And The Club?
Sheffield Wednesday was the club that gave an American field player a chance following the 1990 World Cup. John Harkes signed with them and did substantial work to show the class of the American soccer player. Goal of the Year in 1990, the first American to play in a League Cup final, the first American to win promotion to the Premier League, the first American to play in the Premier League, and so on. Sheffield Wednesday took a chance, it paid off, and both player and club served as trailblazers for opportunities for US soccer players in England. As for why the name Wednesday, the original cricket team played their games on… you guessed it… and the soccer team took their name.
How Tough Is The Championship?
For Sheffield Wednesday this season, it’s a nightmare. The club can’t get itself out of trouble near the bottom of the table, and at this point simply holding their position just above the relegation zone would be a result. Though it’s hardly flattering, Sheffield Wednesday went from a club normally associated with the topflight to forgotten by casual fans as they slid down the divisions. They bottomed out in Division Two in the 2003-04 season, winning promotion back to League One and then up to the Championship the next season. They dropped down a league at the end of the 2009-10 season, making a return to the Championship for 2012-13. Right now, the only focus is making sure they get another season in the Championship. A return to the topflight seems a long way away.
Hillsborough was the site of the 1989 stadium disaster during a neutral site FA Cup game between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool that changed how British stadiums were constructed and redefined safety in soccer. Like all major English stadiums, Hillsborough converted to all seats. The stadium hosted group stage games and a quarterfinal for the 1966 World Cup and group stage games for the 1996 European Championships. With Sheffield Wednesday out of the topflight, it has the unenviable status as the biggest non-Premier League stadium in England with a listed capacity of 39,732.