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The Worst of Wednesday

Jay Bothroyd

With so much quality in the current Wednesday squad, it’s easy to forget just how bad some of our previous players have been. Fear not, guest blogger Andy McElwaine is here with a timely reminder… 

 

logo-3000pxFOR the first time I can remember since around 1993, Wednesday fans have something to shout about. We’ve accumulated a decent squad, more than capable of promotion and it’s good to see smiles on faces again at Hillsborough.

However, in the depths of despair (or the fallout from some of our losses and even draws this season), Wednesday fans have generally been there, done it and got the t-shirt. The club has seen some shocking lows these last 20 years or so, and it’s depressing to remember how bad we’ve actually had it. From unscrupulous owners to players who wouldn’t even be good enough to play for the Dog and Duck.  

Now while we wax lyrical over the likes of Barry Bannan, Fernando Forestieri, Keiren Westwood et al, I thought it would be interesting to list some of the ‘players’ who more than often made us cry rather than smile to make us realise how good we actually have it these days.

Goalkeepers

Chris AdamsonChris Adamson

Ladies’ man Adamson was not blessed with much talent for goalkeeping. Never one to instil confidence, he flapped around his box making only 12 mainly dodgy appearances in nearly three years during two separate spells. One of his less distinguished moments was a League Cup game versus the mighty Wrexham where they pummelled four past the hapless custodian.

Chris Woods

Chris Woods cup finalA controversial choice as many see him backstopping one of our greatest ever sides. Granted, his distribution was very good. Alas, waving to his mum in the crowd at least twice a game when a cross came in, and letting incredibly soft goals go through his butter fingers/legs during multiple big games still gives me nightmares to this day. As does the memory of him trying to play volleyball in the last minute of extra time in an FA Cup Final replay.

Brad Jones

Signed on loan from Middlesbrough, big things were expected from Jones. Unfortunately, he was straight from the Woods School of Calamitous Goalkeeping. Couldn’t catch a ball if his life depended on it, gave away multiple penalties and generally looked very shaky; the Australian international even had coins thrown at him by Wednesdayites nearly three months into his spell. He went on to earn his money by keeping the Liverpool bench warm for five seasons.

Ola TidmanOla Tidman

The Swedish journeyman, a former U-21 international from his country, arrived from Stockport in 2002 and was probably the least accomplished goalkeeper ever seen at S6. Anyone who remembers that Blackpool game is probably still receiving therapy for it.  

Other notable candidates include: Paul Heald, Paul Gallacher.

 

Defenders

Ashley Westwood

Currently sunning himself Malaysia as manager of Penang, Westwood’s error-prone spell at Hillsborough lasted three seasons and a nerve-wracking 77 games. He got the odd goal here and there but generally was chasing shadows, making errors and generally being pretty useless in blue and white.

Danny MaddixDanny Maddix

Westwood’s partner in crime for two seasons was Maddix. Equally as adept at dropping gargantuan bollocks, getting caught in possession, being outpaced and being a chief culprit for many goals against as our Ashley, arguably Maddix was worse. His most ghastly performance came at home to Norwich, where the Canaries and their twelfth man cruised to a 0-5 victory.

Dean SmithDean Smith

When Smith came in, initially on loan from Leyton Orient, Wednesday desperately needed a centre half who would help us avoid the drop. In fairness, he did help. But we still went down. The next season, signed on a one-year deal, Smith was consistently on the team sheet although also consistently at fault for many opposition goals due to his lack of pace and poor decision making. We were three points away from relegation to the fourth tier that season. Thanks, Deano!

Martin TaylorMartin Taylor

‘Tiny’ signed for us after having a decent career at the likes of Blackburn, Birmingham and Watford. In two seasons, he only played 13 games and no wonder why. He was atrocious at Hillsborough; lumbering, slow, out jumped by short strikers and is probably one of the poorest defenders in recent times to play for the club.

Jon Beswetherick

My Plymouth friend called me and said ‘you’ve got a hell of a player here’ and after seeing him in pre-season, Beswetherick looked a real find. With a haircut which made him look like a member of an Inspiral Carpets tribute act and an apparent sweet left foot, Bessie had all the attributes to become a cult hero at Hillsborough. Alas, being ripped a new one by Kris Commons in a 0-0 draw with Stoke on the season’s opening day was the start of things to come. He looked like he had won a competition to play with the first team. There was even one game where he was substituted after 20 minutes after being run ragged yet again. He was dreadful.

Patrick Blondeau

Patrick BlondeauBlondeau game to the club with quite a bit of pedigree. In 1997, we signed the right back from Monaco and it was hoped he would become as good as Sir Roland of Nilsson. In fairness, he wasn’t fit to lace the great man’s boots. He only six games for the club before being shipped back to France. His defining moment was a 2-5 home defeat to Derby, where he seemed to be playing more as a striker than a right back. Even when he got the ball in his advanced positions, he seemed to think it was a hot potato. Utterly useless.

Other notable candidates include: Chris Carr, Darren Purse, Larry May, Maurice Ross.

Midfielders

Kenny LuntKenny Lunt

It’s unfortunate that Kenny’s surname rhymes with that of an offensive swear word. Although it was used quite often by irate fans due to his inability to pass the ball even ten yards in a straight line. It wasn’t just his passing (apparently his strongest asset) which was an issue; he was one of the most lightweight footballers ever to grace the professional game and was constantly getting bullied in midfield. A huge disappointment from a player who was impressive earlier in his career.

Darren PotterDarren Potter

Lunt couldn’t really pass, but compared to Potter, he was like Zidane. When we signed him on loan, he scored on his debut and looked impressive. He even scored a well-taken volley against the snortbeasts of Heeley. Once signed permanently, Potter played as a member of the opposition, often setting up their breakaways. His set pieces were the stuff of legend – in twenty years people will still talk about the game when he had five consecutive corners in which none of them ended up beating the first man. His coup de grâce was his final kick for the club, when he brilliantly set up Exeter’s Troy Archibald-Henville with a precise five-yard pass, who subsequently ran the length of the pitch to score the winner.

Paul Smith, Sheffield Wednesday

Paul Smith

Signed from Hartlepool with the reputation of having a great left foot, Smith was one of the most lumbering wingers we’ve ever seen at the club. He did score one cracker, against Tranmere, but generally, he couldn’t beat a man, nor cross a ball with any degree of success. He will be fondly remembered for a limp free kick against Blackpool which hit the wall at the same speed as a 1980s Skoda going up a hill, resulting in a breakaway which led to a goal.

Rhys McCabeRhys McCabe

Signed from Rangers when they went into financial freefall, big things were expected from McCabe. Like Smith, he scored a goal of the season contender, but this just papered over the cracks. Yes he was young, and perhaps placing him amongst these players is unfair, but his continued insistence on trying to pick players out with Hollywood passes usually resulted in a ball boy clambering up the South Stand to retrieve the ball. He was also too lightweight for the rigours of Championship football and currently plays back in Scotland.  

Craig Armstrong

A former Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest midfielder, Armstrong always seemed to be a passenger in games. His distribution was poor and didn’t dominate games as much as we thought he would. His outright refusal to use his right foot for anything other than standing on was frustrating to watch, and his first touch with his better left foot usually resulted in an opposition throw-in.  

Brian Barry-MurphyBrian Barry-Murphy

Another left-footed player, many were unsure of what his job actually entailed. He didn’t beat a man, he didn’t cross, he hardly tackled, and just run around like a headless chicken for 58 games without having any impact whatsoever. It’s even hard to recall highlights or lowlights of him as for two seasons, he was completely invisible.

Other notable candidates include: Darryl Powell, Adam Poric, Jimmy Smith, Ronnie Wallwork, Steve Harkness, Nejc Pečnik, Aaron Lescott.

 

Forwards

Francis Jeffers

Francis JeffersWhere do I start with Jeffers? After a slow start, he started to hit some real form before Ryan Shawcross at Stoke went full Bruce Lee on his ankle. He wasn’t the same player. Scoring 5 goals in 50 games, he looked lethargic and not bothered. He also got sent off a few times, once for a disgracefully headbutting Port Vale’s Tommy Fraser during our annual limp League Cup defeat to lower-league opposition. Ironically, he could have ended a hero at Hillsborough. In that fateful decider against Palace, at 2-2, the ball fizzed across the face of goal, only for Jeffers to not bother sticking a foot out to divert it home. Fox in the box, my arse.

DaviDavid Grahamd Graham

Goodness me. Jeffers looked like the most industrious player in the world compared to this carthorse. After a prolific spell at Torquay, a move to Wigan didn’t work out and he ended up at Hillsborough. One of the laziest players I have ever seen in a Wednesday shirt, his ability to put the ball in the net or even to hold the ball up were non-existent. His three goals in two seasons was a very poor return. He seemed to waltz around the pitch like he was in his own little world.

Kim Olsen

Big Kim was 6’7” but jumped for a ball like he was one of the Seven Dwarfs. If we wanted a lanky striker, we may have well as signed Stephen Merchant who, in all due respect, would have made more impact for us. Olsen was just dreadful. He couldn’t shoot, head, hold the ball up or do anything of note. He was like Bambi on ice. Atty Nuhiu isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but Dave is like Robert Lewandowski when compared to Olsen. His 12 games for us were 12 more than what he should have ever played.

Jay BothroydJay Bothroyd

Signed on loan from QPR, his arrival caused a bit of a stir. A former England striker, with a good record for his various clubs – this was just the signing we needed. Alas, once he was in the door, his attitude seemed to be bigger than the actual stadium itself. One well taken goal against Leeds a month into his spell was the highlight. But the fact he just strolled around the pitch with no care in the world didn’t go down well. He also couldn’t handle criticism from fans for his lacklustre attitude which didn’t exactly endear him to the crowd.

Other notable candidates include: Leon Knight, Mamady Sidibe, Adam Proudlock, Rodri, Daniel Uchechi.

Andy McElwaineAUTHOR: Andy McElwaine
TWITTER: @AndyMcElwaine

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