For much of the time Jon McClure is the lead singer of Reverent and the Makers but when he’s not rockgodding on stage or in the studio knocking out career-best albums like Mirrors you can usually find him at Hillsborough.
Born and bred in the Steel City Jon is a lifelong season-ticket-holding Owl who this weekend will be travelling along with thousands of his kith and kin to Wembley hoping to see his beloved Sheffield Wednesday make it to the promised land of the Premier League.
Ahead of his team’s play-off final with Hull City we caught up with Jon to discuss Rotherham away in the pissing rain, Carvalhal’s charm, and the long road taken from doldrums to glory.
Daisy Cutter: Who has been your player of the season?
Jon McClure: I’m going to give it to Barry Bannan even though Forestieri won the fan’s player of the year and he deserves it. I expected Forestieri to be good but Bannan has been a revelation.
DC: What has Carlos Carvalhal instilled at Hillsborough that was previously lacking?
JM: A bit of class and ambition. We keep the ball better and attack better and he’s a sexy bastard as well. I reckon he would clean up with women of a certain age.
DC: Are there any games or moments that stand out this season that were crucial to reaching the play-offs?
JM: The Cardiff match at the end of the season was a turning point and certainly that first semi-final leg against Brighton. I’ve never seen anything like that at Hillsborough. Looking back on earlier in the season beating Rotherham away was a bit of a moment.
DC: Looking ahead to this weekend both your league games with Hull ended in draws. Are you anticipating a tense, tight game?
JM: It will be tight and very physical. I’m a big fan of their right-back (Moses Odubajo) who is an incredible player. They’re very strong down the spine of their side with Hernandez, Huddlestone and Dawson. It’s going to be tough but listen I’d have taken this at the start of the season so let’s just have a go at it.
DC: Are you a fan of the play-offs in general?
JM: It’s funny isn’t it how the national media suddenly think that the play-offs aren’t fair when it means Brighton – who are close to the London media – get knocked out. Ultimately they didn’t get into the automatics so I don’t have any sympathy. The play-offs are exciting and wonderful. It’s heart-breaking if you lose and I’ve seen Sheffield United lose a couple – much to our amusement – but this is what football is all about. It’s about excitement not boring league stats.
Also a club like Sheffield Wednesday who have been in the doldrums for such a long time going to Wembley? I was 12 years old the last time I went to Wembley. So it’s massive.
DC: It’s bizarre to think isn’t it that every teenage Wednesday fan have never seen their club in the top flight…
JM: Yeah, I talk to people at the games and they’re 24 years old and can’t remember us being any good which is absolutely mad. Even before we got relegated we were poor for a couple of seasons and that’s unfathomable that for a club of this size. We’re one of the top ten or twelve in the country. I know that Stan Collymore talks about the money and Gary Neville too has addressed it and we’re in danger of losing clubs like Sheffield Wednesday and for what? For little teams who don’t really have a fanbase. It’s not on really. We had 38,000 against Wycombe Wanderers on the last game of the season in 2012 and it could have been 60,000. That’s in League One mate.
I think it’s good in some ways when you see Manchester City fans and Leicester because they have suffered. They’ve been down there and been rubbish so it’s nice to see them win things. The same goes for Hull because I like Steve Bruce and it’s a great place but it would be nice to be us this time.
DC: Since dropping out of the top flight in 2000 what’s been your worse moment as an Owl?
JM: I’ve been to some dodgy away games like Rotherham away, nil-nil and pissing down, but we played Leyton Orient about four years ago and I’ve never seen a worse football match. It could have sent a glass eye to sleep. That was a real low. When you’ve been down there you remember those matches and who went to them. Snowing in Reading on a fucking Tuesday night and losing 3-0.
There’s a banner at the ground that says ‘From John Beswetherick to Foriestieri’ which is very harsh on Beswetherick but if you think about it in those terms we’ve come a long way.
DC: If you win on Saturday who would be you love to see joining this summer?
JM: We need a striker because Hooper is alright but maybe not Premier League quality and Joao may come good but isn’t there yet. Personally I’d go for that Ulloa at Leicester. He doesn’t play every game and they’re going to get better players because of their money. Get someone like him and break the bank. If we’re going to play one up front away from home he’s your man because he can hold it up and I think he’s great.
DC: Last question, why is the Premier League better with Sheffield Wednesday in it?
JM: Because they’re a proper historic club. The fourth member of the league with a massive fanbase. A northern city like Sheffield where, let’s face it, we’re behind your Leeds, Manchester and Liverpools, we deserve a Premier League team.