Well I got a bit of a surprise today. Yesterday, looking on sky bet at fixtures, I saw the steel city derby, Sheffield Wednesday V Sheffield United, was a Sunday early kick-off. I know this commonly happens for big derbies on police advice, but naturally seeing it was on a Sunday and an early kick off I think I can be excused for believing that this was on television. So I woke up this morning and one of my housemates, who has a lot of family who support Wednesday, reminded me about the game and also believed that it was on television. So we both went through the television schedule and were a bit shocked at what we found. Nothing. No coverage. No time for one of the biggest derbies in England.
If you’ve never seen a Sheffield derby then you’ve been missing out. Both sides, Wednesday and United, have some of the best and most loyal supporters in the country and if clubs were allowed in the top division based on how great their support was, I’d have no doubt both these clubs would be up there. Instead what do we have this weekend? Yesterday, West Brom V Middlesbrough on BBC2 – a game that may of been big at around the middle of the season but is now largely irrelevant due to the fact ‘Boro’s play-off hopes were slim and West Brom were pretty much destined for 2nd place. And what do we have on Sky sports Monday night football tomorrow? Plymouth V Newcastle United. Probably one of the stupidest games you could put on a Monday night as it leaves Newcastle United fans needing to find two days off work (on short notice may I add) and considering this is the football league’s longest away day, you would think it’d make sense to make this a Saturday 3pm kick off. But no – the fan comes last and although I realise that Plymouth are fighting a relegation battle, it doesn’t take priority for me to be on TV over the Sheffield derby (and this is coming from a Newcastle fan!)
But surely Sky make up for this with their Premiership coverage right? Well not really for my liking. I apologise to the fans of these teams, but in my opinion, compared to the steel city derby, Wigan V Arsenal and Portsmouth V Aston Villa are not big games. I’m in favour of every fan getting a chance to see their team (although that will never happen because of ratings and what not) but if I get a choice between those Premiership games and the Sheffield game then I want to watch the Sheffield game. I don’t care what league it is in, it’s always a good game and it is a disgrace that the British media have almost forgot about it. Just going onto SkySports.com and seeing their live score centre on the front page and they have Wigan V Arsenal and Rangers V Hearts listed. Some how this important and passionate derby doesn’t warrant any interest according to Sky. The BBC is a bit better, offering text updates and five live commentary, but this is a game that deserves to be televised.
Any true English football fan knows the derbies that truly mean something and the ones you’d stop to watch because it’s exciting. Southampton and Portsmouth, Newcastle and Sunderland, Nottingham Forrest and Derby, Ipswich and Norwich, Birmingham and Aston Villa, Burnley and Blackburn etc etc (I’m sorry if I missed your team off, I know which ones truly matter though!). I don’t want to get into an argument about “who’s the most passionate fans” blah blah blah and I do like to watch the big teams in their derbies but it appears that they’re unfairly burying these massively passionate games where winning can be all the fans care about every season. It’s wrong that the Sheffield derby takes a back seat and it won’t be shown anywhere. Hell, I can find coverage of the Casablanca derby on the Internet, but no Sheffield game. Wednesday are fighting a relegation battle and this is one of the highlights of not only the Championship season, but the English league football season.
Unfortunately it is just another case of money taking over football and these massive broadcasting companies have so much control and power it is denting the humble atmosphere of the fans. I’m afraid these days the fan comes last – and there’s nothing we can do about it.