Alan Biggs: Sam’s the man and Adam’s reaching high for Sheffield Wednesday

Sam Hutchinson
Sam Hutchinson

A few weeks ago, this column put the case for Sam Hutchinson being more effective for Sheffield Wednesday as a centre back.

I was wrong. Providing he stays the right side of the law. Hutchinson was supreme as a midfield enforcer - and distributor - in midweek, regardless of scoring in the 2-0 win over Barnsley.

I’ve also suggested Adam Reach as a good strike option. The Owls’ record signing has yet to score in 16 appearances. But in this I still believe I’m right.

As a marauder in midweek, albeit not through the middle, Reach showed the directness and pace the team lack going forward. His time is coming.

And the same is certainly true of George Hirst who, as suggested here last week, was closer to the action than some realised in the face of good deflection technique from Carlos Carvalhal.

A league debut at Reading followed; no appearance from the bench on Tuesday but you’d reckon on him being a substitute again versus Rotherham on Saturday.

David Hirst won’t miss the moment when it comes, a home bow at Hillsborough, having been a “very proud” spectator at the Madejski Stadium. “He did okay. Six touches and completed every pass.”

The former Owls great “heads and kicks every ball” when his 17-year-old son plays – “as I have done since he was four or five.”

Adds Hirst senior: “I’m his biggest critic, but there’s no shouting and bawling. I like to think I say the right things. If it doesn’t go well, I let him know – that’s how he improves.

“Hopefully he listens – he seems to be at the moment!”

I was listening, too, when Carvalhal talked about an emphasis on “fast attack” post Barnsley.

The execution left something to be desired but no mistaking a move to get the ball forward earlier – after wised-up opponents left the pure passing game looking ponderous. Could be important in how the season pans out.

The brilliance of Big Jack

A lifetime of living around football people is bad for their image. The hardest can be the biggest softies underneath.

They don’t come rougher or tougher than Jack Charlton.

But, in the Big Jack biography by Colin Young, it’s his humanity you admire even above his status as an England World Cup winner and the manager who lifted the Republic of Ireland to uncharted heights.

I wish I’d have been old enough to know this outwardly brusque character a little better when, as a somewhat awestruck and fearful young reporter, I regularly encountered Jack as Sheffield Wednesday boss between 1977 and 1983.

I’ll never forget incurring his wrath after witnessing him bickering across a snooker table with Terry Curran, over which a bet on the rules was laid.

Only later did I realise that it wasn’t so much putting it on the radio (unwisely) that incurred Jack’s wrath.

It was because he lost the bet! But I’ll never forget either how the rollicking turned into a “now what do you want?” and another interview.

In the book there are many similar stories from those far closer to the man. And very funny, too. Like him? They loved him!

A drinking buddy who remained very much the boss; who tore strips off people but always put them back together again and never bore a grudge.

His one-time Wednesday player Gary Megson recalls a very generous man in private who would be “frugal with his club’s money... very different with his own.”

And this despite his habit of cadging cigarettes off anyone in the vicinity, including (very proudly) this correspondent on one occasion.

Owls legend Mel Sterland, a player under Jack, joins me and the book’s author on Sheffield Live TV (7pm tonight) to tell his favourite tales.

n Jack Charlton. The authorised biography. Hero Books