Wednesday’s merry band are Yorkshire’s main representative

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There used to be a time when the European Championships would offer some involvement to Yorkshire football fans still craving a little bit of club interest.

In Euro ’96 Leeds United’s Gary McAllister captained Scotland and in Euro ’88 his Whites team-mate John Sheridan and Sheffield Wednesday’s Tony Galvin were in the Republic of Ireland line-up.

In 1992 Yorkshire were well represented in the international set-up.

There was Wednesday’s Roland Nilsson in the Sweden squad, Hillsborough team-mates Chris Woods and Carlton Palmer in Graham Taylor’s England squad, along with Leeds pair Tony Dorigo and David Batty.

Wednesday even had the much-maligned Gilles De Bilde in the Belgium squad in Euro 2000, as well as Niclas Alexandersson turning out for Sweden while Elland Road favourite Eirik Bakke was in the Norway squad.

But the class of 2012 has very little to write home about for Yorkshire fans. Paul McShane, from Hull City, was a late call-up for the Republic of Ireland but even he finished the season out on loan at Crystal Palace.

The lack of representation probably reflects the clubs’ fall from grace, with no Premier League representatives from the White Rose county.

Sheffield-born Gary Cahill nearly made it, before being crocked in England’s warm-up against Belgium, while former Owls favourite Glenn Whelan is a Republic of Ireland midfielder.

Phil Jagielka (former Sheffield United defender) and Stewart Downing (former Middlesbrough) are with Roy Hodgson’s side while James Milner’s England performances remind Leeds fans of their glory days.

But really the links are quite tenuous – obviously not forgetting Rotherham’s own World Cup final referee Howard Webb is officiating this summer.

That is why I was saddened to see the England band – who first came to prominence playing at Hillsborough and still play regularly at Owls matches – were prevented from playing in Hodgson’s first match against France.

Ukraine stewards stopped band leader John Hemmingham and his crew of musicians from playing inside the stadium, despite receiving permission from the FA and UEFA.

It was great to see them back where they belong last night, supporting the team from the stands against Sweden in Kiev. Okay you would not want to be sat next to band co-founder Steve Holmes, the guy banging the drums for 90 minutes, but they have become part of international football over the last two decades.

I am guessing they were not allowed to take their instruments inside the stadium in case they used them as weapons or missiles.

If I was a would-be thug, I think I would find something less expensive to toss away than several hundred pounds of musical equipment.

After driving around 2,500 miles to get to Monday’s match, it was something of an anti-climax for the band, and there is some great video footage of their adventures online.

For those who are Twitter fans, check the videos out online via John Hemmingham @HemaLeader or Steve Holmes @murraydrummer.

Entertaining stuff which gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what is happening away from television coverage.

Love them or hate them – and the band do divide opinion – what cannot be argued is they are at least flying the flag for Yorkshire in this summer’s European Championships.

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