The road to Wembley seems a long one from the sleepy seaside town of Morecambe but it is one which Gary Megson embarks on tomorrow hoping to maintain a proud family tradition.
For the Megson name is immortalised in Hillsborough history books, Gary’s dad Don Megson captaining the Owls to the FA Cup final in 1966.
Gary twice came close to following in his dad’s footsteps, only to fall at the final hurdle as a Wednesday player. First they lost 2-1 to Brighton at Highbury in 1983, then three years later by the same scoreline to Everton at Villa Park.
The young Megson was just a seven-year-old boy watching his dad lead out Wednesday in 1966 – only a few weeks later England would go on to lift the World Cup on the same turf – but recalls the game vividly.
“I can remember the game, even though I was only seven, but the reason I remember it is my dad shows it every fortnight when I go round,” Megson joked, as he previewed the trip to Morecambe. “It’s a rite of passage, you have to watch it.
“He had a quiet game, but he’s had it moved from cine-cameras, to video, and now on dvd, but still his one abiding memory is that he managed to put the outside right on the dog track from the pitch. Apparently no-one else has ever done that.
“It just shows you how football used to be.”
The Owls were 2-0 up, only for the Toffees to storm back and clinch a dramatic 3-2 win. It is a game often remembered for the mistake of former England defender Gerry Young.
With the game finely balanced at 2-2, Young failed to control a long punt downfield and Derek Temple nipped in to beat Owls goalkeeper Ron Springett. A one-club man, Young played over 300 times for Wednesday in a 15-year career.
“I was there that day in 1966, it’s sad in a way that that Cup final is remembered for a lot of different things other than Wednesday being in it,” said Megson.
“My dad took the players on a lap of hour, he was the first losing captain to do so. I know he would have wanted to have been the winning captain taking them round as did everyone connected with Wednesday.
“There was a fantastic player that used to play for Sheffield called Gerry Young, a real top-draw player. But whenever you mention his name it’s the mistake that he made that people remember, it’s really sad because he was a top player and a great bloke.
“There were a lot of things that went on that day, not least the donut who ran on the pitch and got rugby tackled by the police.
“There were loads of things and you remember them, even though it’s over 40 years on.”
Hanging on a wall at Megson’s home is a framed photograph of the 1986 semi-final at Villa Park, with the Holte End packed with Wednesday fans.
The FA Cup has a special pace in the Megson family.
“We got to a couple of semi-finals, we managed to get to one at Arsenal when Jack Charlton was the manager and we managed to turn up with two players missing,” recalled Megson, who made 233 appearances for Wednesday during two spells with the club in the Eighties.
“We then played Everton, who were the top team at one stage in England, and got beat at Villa Park. I have got a photograph at home which is of the Wednesday support at Villa Park that day. It wouldn’t be allowed now as there was so many people crammed in. Health and safety would have a heart attack if they saw it.
“But it was a fantastic occasion and that’s what we want to get back here.”
The first step this weekend is a trip to the Globe Arena tomorrow and a first meeting with Morecambe, who only joined the Football League four years ago after winning promotion from the Conference.
Megson intends fielding the strongest team available, although loan signings Ben Marshall and goalkeeper Stephen Bywater have been refused permission by their parent clubs, Stoke City and Derby County, to play.
Marshall has been a key player in helping the Owls into third spot in League One but Megson insists it is a chance for a squad player to grab.
“Marshall has been influential, he’s a good player,” said the Owls manager, who was in charge when the Owls lost in the FA Cup at Birmingham City last season at the last-16 stage.
Of that team that played at St Andrew’s, just one – James O’Connor – is likely to feature tomorrow.
“Marshall’s been scoring goals, creating them and working hard, we are really pleased with him.
“But we knew that before he came, what he could do for us, but you can’t say how big a miss someone is going to be until after the event.
“It’s something that we have to contend with, but it’s an opportunity for someone to come in and hopefully while the name on the shirt changes the performance won’t.”