IT began with hope.
Then came goals, tension, excitement, controversy, relief, joy, and a new hero who has revealed that six weeks ago he was in the doldrums.
Wednesday’s testing occasion at Brentford provided an extraordinary mix, sweetened for them later by United’s stumble.
But promotion to the Championship with the Owls had not even been dreamed of by former Blades loan winger Keith Treacy until he received a call from Dave Jones in March.
“I had the day off when Wednesday were trying to sign me and I was sitting in my house in Lytham when Dave Jones called,” said the Burnley man whose impish goal on Saturday was his first in seven months.
“I told him straight: ‘I’m not fit and I don’t think I’ll be able to contribute to the team; I think it will take me too long to get fit.’
“He said ‘so long as your left foot works, I want you in the team’. He basically said ‘get your lazy a*se out of bed and come to Sheffield’!
“I’m obviously delighted I’ve done it, now. It’s great to be involved. I’m sure that if I wasn’t I’d be at home and wishing I was part of it. It was a great decision.”
It was that cultured left foot that beat Brentford’s wall and caught out their keeper with a near-post free kick, and landed a corner on the head of Miguel Llera for the centre-half to net a splendid winner with his fourth goal in five games.
The tension came from chances for Brentford. Jones reflected: “Don’t forget they were the home side; they’re a good side, they had a chance of the play-offs; they went for it; so did we, as shown by the subs I picked.”
Wednesday gave the ball away too much in the first half. Was it nervousness? I asked the boss. “I think the grass was a bit long,” he said. “The ball didn’t zip along as much as we would have liked.
“The fans were magnificent - they stuck with us all the way - though everyone is always going to be a bit nervous at this stage of the season. The first goal settled us down. The second (from a set-piece) didn’t just happen; we work on it.
“There were also two match-winning saves from Stephen Bywater.
“The game could easily have gone the other way. But fortune favours the brave.”
Bywater’s contribution was top drawer: he got his fingertips to a curling shot from danger man Clayton Donaldson when it was 1-0, and defied a break by Toumani Diagouraga near the end.
The controversy? Well, two or three actually. Mark Beevers, teammates and Jones thought at the time that the defender touched the ball in the penalty incident.
There was no evidence of that when it was shown in the TV highlights, all 52 seconds of them, which did scant justice to an incident-packed contest.
It is mystery why, to the Owls’ relief, ref Chris Sarginson - swift in dismissing Gary Megson at Wycombe in October - did not send off Beevers, who was booked in the first half and dived into a late tackle a minute after the penalty, sparking uproar among Brentford players and fans. Jones wasted no time in taking the left-back off for his and the team’s own good.
The Owls battled away, did the right thing in trying to keep the ball up the other end in the closing stages, and maybe should have had a penalty for handball in the 89th minute when Gary Madine’s header struck a defender. Jones certainly thought so: “Their lad had his arms raised.”
Wednesday were pushed all the way by a lively and committed Bees side who had to believe they still had something to play for.
But the Owls themselves showed terrific commitment and endeavour - exactly what was required in tricky conditions against dangerous op
position. They can do better. Antonio, the previous week’s match-winner, seemed strangely out of touch - perhaps a legacy of his shoulder injury.
Jones revealed that the winger missed most of last week’s training, and that Nile Ranger, another not at his best, spent time last week on a driving course run by the police - obviously the result of a motoring offence.
The manager praised each of his players, including the subs: “JJ was superb when he came on; so was Chrissie (O’Grady), and it was nice to have Daniel (Jones) back.”
scene is set for a possibly momentous occasion on Saturday. “The fans deserve it,” said Jones.
Treacy, who made 16 appearances for United in a four-month loan spell in late 2009, will relish it.
“Hopefully I’ll get another start against Wycombe,” said the 23-year-old. “I love playing football in Sheffield. The Wednesday fans have really taken to me.
“When I was with United, I loved the city and playing here. The fans are so passionate. The away stand was bouncing (at Brentford). It was a real carnival atmosphere. Hopefully I can go up with Wednesday.
“It (the rivalry with United) is brilliant for the city.
It could end up that we both go up.
“It would be good, because there would be derbies again next season.”
Jones, as you would expect, is calmness personified: “We had to win against Brentford. Now we have to stay focused and do exactly the same on Saturday.”