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Sheffield Wednesday: Ex-Owls relive promotion glory

The boys of '84: back, from  left: Mel Sterland, Mark Smith, Gavin Oliver, Martin Hodge, Lawrie Madden, Alan Smith; front, Charlie Williamson, John Pearson, mystery fan Andy, Howard Wilkinson, Imre Varadi, Mike Lyons

The boys of '84: back, from left: Mel Sterland, Mark Smith, Gavin Oliver, Martin Hodge, Lawrie Madden, Alan Smith; front, Charlie Williamson, John Pearson, mystery fan Andy, Howard Wilkinson, Imre Varadi, Mike Lyons

Former Wednesday stars have been remembering the feat of their promotion 30 years ago.

Captain Mike Lyons came to Hillsborough from his home in Australia to meet up with team-mates who took the club into the top flight in 1984 under Howard Wilkinson.

Lyons also revealed the intimate celebration that followed the news that the club were up. “I remember I was taking the young lads on the training ground; somebody had got beaten; it meant we’d got promoted.

“Howard said ‘get into the office.’ His dad was there too. We had bottle of champagne. It was really nice.”

Wednesday were practically promoted with six games to spare after rivals Manchester City lost.

Promotion was sealed mathematically on April 28, 1984, in the fifth-from-last match, with a penalty by Mel Sterland and a 1-0 home win against Crystal Palace. “We put Lionel Ritchie on the cassette before that game,” says Lyons. “It was ‘can’t slow down’ and the way we played, we didn’t slow down.

“We had all the apprentices throwing the ball back for quick throw-ins.

“We worked a lot at the set pieces. Wilky just organised the whole thing. He was our leader. It was like Wilki’s Army.

“I had four fantastic years with Wednesday, first with Jack Charlton, Maurice Setters and Tony Toms, then with Wilki, Peter Eustace and (physio) Alan Smith.”

A sell-out audience of 300 fans attended the dinner and commemorative evening, which also aided the club’s community programme. Organiser and former striker John Pearson said: “It was absolutely superb, There were so many comments about the camaraderie we had in that team.

“Micky Lyons gave a rousing speech, Howard Wilkinson gave a good one as well, and it was brilliantly hosted by David Hirst. All the players were pleased to see each other. It was a pleasure to organise.”

Some players were unable to attend but a ‘team photo’ place was auctioned to the audience. The winner, known as Andy, left soon after the picture was taken, without giving any further details. The club are trying to track him down!

 

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