Winning Matters More Than You Think

I’ve been fortunate enough over the last five or six years to take a look behind the curtain at Sheffield Wednesday, whether that has been with my eyes or ears. And believe me, I’ve had many fall-outs with multiple people at the club. Which, as most people reading this will know, includes the Chairman.

I am a forthright kind of guy. If I believe something or in something, I will go with it. But, perhaps, at times, arrogance and ego come into play. Maybe it has prevented me from considering things from all sides. For example, it’s been put to me before by people at the club about how much winning matters. My response has always been we can’t just have that tunnel vision where winning is everything and that we have to do better in other areas. But, I never weighed up how much winning matters to the people I, and maybe others, don’t consider.

I don’t want anyone reading this to feel that I’m digging out fellow supporters or failing to recognise how much winning matters to those in the stands and further afield. But sometimes, I think a mention for those behind the scenes who people may not even know exist is important. As they’re crucial cogs in the Sheffield Wednesday ecosystem.

So, why does winning matter so much? I think we can all say how things are when Wednesday aren’t doing great. And, it’s been the case for a while. If Wednesday lose on a Saturday afternoon, many supporters will say, “that’s my weekend ruined.” And, this feeling of disappointment and frustration will carry through into the week.

You try not to let Wednesday’s results get to you, but they do, and this is evidenced on the Wednesday hashtag on Twitter and more than likely across other social media platforms. I’m not playing it down where the club’s supporters are concerned, but I’d never really stopped to think about the people working there, be it full time, part-time or even just on matchdays.

In the past, I’ve suggested overhauls at the club. And that we should get rid of those who have been around “too long” and take things in a different direction. I know some people may respond to this with, “we should,” but I’ve never stopped to think how winning and losing affects them and their work.

I’m not going to say I’ve seen all the staff at work, or even that many. But, from what I have seen of them recently, when I really decided to take notice of the goings-on, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how hard they work. And maybe I shouldn’t have been. But I never even considered it, which is my bad.

On matchday, it’s arguably the best time to study what’s going on, the size of the task at hand, how many people are involved, and what it takes to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Especially with the current situation with the Covid protocols. There will undoubtedly be a lot of stress and a lot of brow wiping.

Using examples of people fans will probably know, on Saturday against Plymouth, I saw our COO Liam Dooley racing up and down the South Stand. He’s a man in a high-pressure position, especially on matchdays. And, he was everywhere. One minute he’s doing something in the South while having time to build that connection with supporters by chatting and taking pictures for them, and the next, he’s pitchside and down the tunnel.

I think everyone will know Alistair Wilson, too. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in hospitality once or twice in the past, and he never stops. Again, akin to Liam, he’s here, there and everywhere, helping to keep the machine that is matchday running. And there are many more you could name who give their all for the club.

It doesn’t just apply to those you may know, or the “names,” either. And it doesn’t just apply to matchday either. But, if I started reeling off the multiple people or positions, we’d be here forever. But, you know what I mean, the stewards, turnstile operators, kiosk workers, bar staff, those down at the training ground in laundry, the ground staff, and so on.

Now, I never considered how much winning matters to these people, whether they’re fans of the club because they always have been or because they have built that connection through working there. I’d imagine, when you’re throwing everything at it, be it through the week, on matchday, or both. And things don’t go our way on the pitch. It’s hard to take. And I also imagine you take that feeling home with you. A lot of work for a boatload of disappointment.

It may not even end when they get home, either. Take the guys working across our social media platforms and in communications, such as Trevor Braithwait. The job never stops. And, when things aren’t going great and Wednesday aren’t winning, any social media post is met with a barrage of negative replies. Of course, it’s to be expected. But this can’t be an enjoyable experience.

If you flip it to when we win, and there is even an ounce of positivity, things change massively. It must be like the work, effort and battling through the tough times is almost worth it. And, it’s going to be a relief too. The motivation and enthusiasm levels will rise naturally, instead of everyone having to dig deep to find it.

And, I guess, this is why I’ve heard about how much winning matters so many times. Usually, when we’ve been on a bad run, which, again, has been the common theme far too many times over the last few years. So I wanted to give a nod to the people who may not get a mention, or considered, for their undoubted efforts, especially when the going is tough, to try and make Sheffield Wednesday better and to keep things running as smooth and stress-free for us supporters.

Let’s hope the Plymouth victory and performance is the turning point and a great run of form, alongside an extended period of some much-needed positivity.

One Comment

Robert Barnes

It’s always a fine line in many supporters eyes, between happy and sad – sad in social media terms soon drops into abuse, which is more than unfortunate. Agree wholeheartedly with you comments re ‘all club staff’, just like with the chefs, shelf stackers etc, it needs a lot for the business to run. The more the involvement and knowledge of our family club, the merrier, and the more that tempers will be cooled as a result. I’ve been watching (and visiting behind the scenes) since the mid’60s so have seen a lot of good and a lot of not-so-good. Go for it


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