We catch up with Sh­eff Wed­nes­day’s 1983-84 Divi­sion Two run­ners-up

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Neil Fissler

IMRE Varadi be­lieves Sh­effield Wed­nes­day cost them­selves the Sec­ond Divi­sion ti­tle by win­ning pro­mo­tion too early.

Howard Wilkin­son’s side clinched a re­turn to the First Divi­sion six games be­fore the end of the sea­son after lead­ing the ti­tle race for most of the sea­son.

But they flagged in the fin­ish­ing straight, los­ing at Shrews­bury be­fore draw­ing at home to Manch­ester City, and al­lowed Chelsea the chance to sneak in and pip them by scor­ing 12 goals more.

Varadi, who was the club’s lead­ing scorer, ad­mits it would have helped had they still needed points to go up go­ing into their fi­nal few games.

“We had a cou­ple of long un­beaten runs and were top­ping the league for most of the sea­son,” he said.

“We got pro­moted six games from the end of the sea­son.

“And we found it hard to win a game after that. It al­lowed Chelsea to pip us on goal dif­fer­ence for the ti­tle, but it was a ter­rific sea­son.

“It was the first time we had got into the big league for about 14 sea­sons, though we were ab­so­lutely gut­ted not to have won the ti­tle. We mur­dered nearly ev­ery team.

“Our prob­lem was we got pro- moted too early. Men­tally, we switched off as a group. It would have helped us had we gone to the sec­ond last game to get pro­moted.”

Varadi points out that Wilkin­son, who led them back to the promised land, doesn’t of­ten get the credit he de­serves.

“Howard got us very fit,” he said. “We must have been the fittest team in the land. We could go for 90 min­utes and who­ever played Sh­effield Wed­nes­day that sea­son knew they were in for a tough game.


“We put teams un­der a lot of pres­sure, we cre­ated a lot of chances and Howard was one of the first man­agers at the time to play with three cen­tre-halves and two wing-backs.

“He didn’t get a lot of credit for that. Mel Ster­land and Nigel Worthington got for­ward and put in crosses and it worked.

“When Howard went to Leeds, he didn’t get the credit he de­served for win­ning the First and Sec­ond Divi­sion cham­pi­onships, but he was ahead of his time back in the 1980s.

“Maybe that was be­cause he wasn’t a football purist type of per­son.

“He knew how to put a team to­gether, get pro­mo­tion and do a job.” 1. Tony Cun­ning­ham: Striker who won pro­mo­tion five times in a long ca­reer. Lives in Lin­coln and since qual­i­fy­ing as a so­lic­i­tor in 1999, he works for An­drew Jay and Co. 2. Mark Smith: Cen­tral de­fender and Owls player of the year in 1981. He has been youth team coach at a num­ber of clubs in­clud­ing both the Steel City teams and is now Ch­ester­field’s acad­emy man­ager. 3. Peter Shirtliff: Cen­tral de­fender and a League Cup win­ner with the Owls. He went into coach­ing, hold­ing a num­ber of po­si­tions, and is now a Pre­mier League acad­emy mon­i­tor. 4. Iain Hes­ford: Goal­keeper who later won a Divi­sion Three ti­tle with Sun­der­land, then be­came a pub­li­can near Rochdale. His brother, Bob, was an Eng­land rugby in­ter­na­tional. Iain died, aged 54, in Novem­ber 2014. 5. Martin Hodge: Goal­keeper who started his coach­ing ca­reer at Ply­mouth , then moved onto the Owls, Rochdale and Leeds. Now scout­ing for Cardiff City after a sim­i­lar role at Watford. 6. John Pear­son: Striker who won the Divi­sion Two ti­tle with Leeds. He has sold in­sur­ance, owned a pub, been a play­ers’ agent and worked in the me­dia. Now a com­mu­nity worker for Wed­nes­day. 7. Mick Lyons: De­fender who had a suc­cess­ful ca­reer at Ever­ton. Later man­aged Grimsby and the Brunei na­tional team be­fore mov­ing to Perth, Aus­tralia where he has had coach­ing jobs. 8. Mel Ster­land: Right-back who won one Eng­land cap be­fore man- ag­ing Bos­ton United. Held sales jobs and worked as a play­ers’ agent since be­ing forced to re­tire at the age of 29. 9.Peter Eus­tace: Later man­aged the Owls and Leyton Ori­ent, be­fore run­ning a pub in Der­byshire. He then scouted for a num­ber of clubs, in­clud­ing West Ham, the Owls and Hartle­pool United. 10. Lawrie Madden: A de­fender who won the League Cup with the Owls. He went into the me­dia work­ing as a free­lance football re­porter, lec­turer and con­sul­tant. 11. Kevin Tay­lor: Mid­fielder who was a mem­ber of two Owls pro­mo­tion-win­ning squads. He has scouted for Leeds United and works as a fork­lift driver in a dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre. 12. Gary Ban­nis­ter: A pro­lific Eng­land Un­der-21 striker who owned a cou­ple of guest­houses in Corn­wall and is now liv­ing in the Mid­lands and work­ing in ho­tel main­te­nance. 13. Imre Varadi: Striker who helped Leeds United win a First Divi­sion ti­tle. He has been an agent for Stel­lar Group for the last 14 years and works in the me­dia. 14. Gary Meg­son: Mid­fielder whose fa­ther, Don, played for the Owls. He also won a pro­mo­tion with Man City and man­aged nine clubs, in­clud­ing Wed­nes­day. 15. Gary Shel­ton: Eng­land Un­der21 mid­fielder who won a pro­mo­tion with Bris­tol City. He was care­taker-man­ager of the Robins and then coached at Ch­ester and West Brom. 16. Alan Smith: After work­ing with the Eng­land team for eight years, he is now run­ning his own pri­vate prac­tice in Rother­ham. 17. Paul Shirtliff: De­fender and younger brother of Peter, he was a buyer in the aerospace in­dus­try and coached at Barns­ley acad­emy. He died in Septem­ber 2009, aged 46, after a bat­tle with can­cer. 18. Simon Mills: Eng­land youth full-back won a pro­mo­tion with Port Vale and was a dray­man for a Sh­effield brew­ery, then ran a fish­ing tackle busi­ness and is now sell­ing footwear. 19. Gavin Oliver: Cen­tral de­fender who went on to make more than 300 ap­pear­ances for Brad­ford. He was a com­mu­nity of­fi­cer, then scouted for Sun­der­land and is cur­rently at Man City. 20. Howard Wilkin­son: He later man­aged Leeds and has twice been care­taker-man­ager of Eng­land. A for­mer chair­man of the League Man­agers’ Association and the Owls. 21. David Moss­man: Winger who won a Con­fer­ence ti­tle with Lin­coln City. Lives in Tod­wick, near Sh­effield, and has worked as a busi­ness and man­age­ment con­sul­tant. 22. Nigel Worthington: De­fender who won the League Cup with the Owls. Man­aged Black­pool, Nor­wich, Le­ices­ter, North­ern Ire­land and York. Now club am­bas­sador at Fak­en­ham Town. 23. Chris Mor­ris: De­fender who en­joyed suc­cess with Celtic and Mid­dles­brough. He was a prop­erty de­vel­oper, then ran the fam­ily pasty-making busi­ness. Now an FA coach in Corn­wall.

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