Tom Wrigglesworth - why the Premier League needs a team from Yorkshire

Tom Wrigglesworth

Tom Wrigglesworth - Credit: not Archant

Our star columnist muses on some of the differences between the north and the south and proposes a change to the rules of football

Could Sheffield Wednesday return to the Premier League? Photo Tim Goode

Could Sheffield Wednesday return to the Premier League? Photo Tim Goode - Credit: PA

A constant source of surprise to me is how often I am invited overseas to perform standup. I only have to drive over the hills into Lancashire and I struggle to understand a word they say, but in January alone, I chalked up trips to Brussels and the Alps and audiences seem to comprehend me. Until recently, upon meeting the locals, I would say I lived in London and a conversation regarding Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham would ensue. Since my move back to Yorkshire, these conversations immediately stumble as the county has no representation in the Premier League. This, to all intents and purposes, is an utter tragedy seeing as the beautiful game came from God’s Own County. The original rule-makers should have written in a kind of protected designation of origin. In the same way that stilton has to come from certain approved dairies, English football should not be called so unless one team from Sheffield is in the top twenty.

You’d have thought if they were able to smuggle in laws allowing you to crossbow a Welshman from the Chester walls, insisting on a Yorkshire team in the top flight of the Football League would be easy.

Recently, my own team Sheffield Wednesday seem to be making a concerted effort to right this wrong. Even the most pessimistic Owl would agree that we’re in with a good chance of making the play offs. Watching Wednesday’s team of Davids systematically hammer the Goliaths of Arsenal earlier this season fortified that belief.

Such was the luxurious nature of the three-nil-after-fifty-minutes cushion, I found my self snuggling up against it and remembering that this sort of thing was once a very common occurrence at Hillsborough. I have wonderful memories of watching the early 90s blue and white legends entertaining some fancy southern outfit, putting three or four past them and sending them back down the M1 wondering what had hit them. The atmosphere on the kop that night was certainly something to savour. The younger fans seemed to be unguarded in their expression of ecstasy, after all they’d probably already lived the victory on Xbox a few hours earlier. But among the older fans, our excitement quickly moved through ecstasy via disbelief into something I couldn’t put my finger on at the time. At some point during the glorious forty minutes of being three goals to the good against the team sitting at the top of the Premiership, my mind drifted to one of the key differences between the north and south.

For the last fifteen years I’ve lived in East London, on a street that regularly played host to chilling yellow signs appealing for witness to a murder or physical assault. I find these signs as gruesome as I do tragic. Have residents become so de-sensitised to the ever-present threat of danger that they need to be reminded of the fact that they did indeed catch a good glimpse of an axe wielding monster with a determined glint in his eye?

To me this is a world away from a sign I saw recently when out hiking in the Peak District. A short walk from the car park I noticed a laminated card had been fixed to a small wooden gate. In neat handwriting, the sign read “If anyone finds a camera battery, it’s mine. Please call 077…”. It wasn’t the ridiculous nature of the sign that struck me, nor the excellent DIY skills used in its production, but rather the idea that somebody thinks there is a chance they might get the camera battery back. There was an optimism in it I’ve not felt in years. That is what I saw in the eyes of the all the older football fans on the kop that night at Hillsborough. Yorkshire might not have a Premier League football team at present, but we certainly live in hope.