Sheffield Wednesday v Cheltenham Town: Barry Bannan spurred on by past disappointments as he reaches Owls milestone

BARRY BANNAN’S milestone achievement for a club which will always have a place in his heart will be rightfully recognised before kick-off this afternoon by Wednesdayites – a group of supporters who know their history.

His 300th appearance for the Owls will carry significance in the here and now. If all goes well, then it will be his 310th which will be extra special.

Sheffield Wednesday have eight ‘cup finals’ left in the regular season and hopefully three more in the end-of-season play-offs in May.

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The Owls captain, perhaps more than anyone, has unfinished business in that regard.

Barry Bannan has enjoyed a stellar season at the heart of Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion push (Picture: Steve Ellis)

When asked about his abiding memories of wearing the famous blue and white striped jersey, Wednesday’s Championship play-off final with Hull City in 2016 – the ‘best worst day’ of his career is the one which quickly springs to mind.

It was a day which started with Bannan seeing scores of Wednesday fans herald him in song on Wembley Way while he watched on from his hotel window. It was also a day, sadly, which ended in dreams being shattered.

Going back there in just over a couple of months time and being a winner would be cathartic.

Bannan said: “It was the ‘best worst day’ in my career. If I can get back there and finish on the winning side, it would be 10 times (better) than the Hull day.

Barry Bannan is still haunted by play-off final defeat at Wembley in 2016 (Picture: Steve ellis)

“That is something I am striving for and I have got it in my head. It is a long way away and there’s some hard work to come, but we are up for the battle and in touching distance and it’s down to us now.

“When you look back at your career, you don’t just want to be remembered as a good player who has done well here and there.

“You want it to be based on achievements. Here, 25 of us want that feeling of being promoted.

“That is what we have been aiming for since week one and want to look back on when we have finished. We have put ourselves in a good position and need to follow it through.

Barry Bannan consoled by Paul Smith after the 2016 play-off final defeat (Picture: Steve Ellis)

“I am sure if we can do that and get the club to where we want it to be, it will be something we can look back on in years to come and think that’s amazing.”

More recent memories from last Spring on a desperate day at Derby will ensure that a number of players including Bannan and the club’s management team won’t require much of a team talk as Wednesday seek to fulfil something that most viewed as a minimum requirement back in August – clinching a play-off place.

Relegation at Pride Park, especially given the circumstances of a crazy final day last season, floored many.

For a proud professional and captain in Bannan who has built a strong connection to the S6 club, the pain was felt acutely and lingered.

It ruined his summer in many respects and he couldn’t shake it off. Even when he was on holiday on a sun-kissed foreign beach.

The Scot continued: “It was horrible. For any footballer, you never set yourself up to feel that way and never think that is going to come and unfortunately, that came to us and it is something that still haunts me to this day.

“It was a terrible day for everyone involved with the club. It leaves a bad taste.

“I went on holiday straightaway to try and get away from the city and forget about it.

“But it doesn’t really change much, it is always there in the back of your head for weeks and in a way, you want to get back in and train and get the disappointment away rather than sitting around on holiday.

“But it is done now and we cannot do anything about it and we have to try and put it right this season. We have eight cup finals to put ourselves in a good position to get back to where we want to be.”

Promotion would mean the world to Bannan, his team-mates – several of whom have endured plenty on and off the pitch over several tough years – and Wednesdayites.

For manager Darren Moore, following an arduous first year at the club which has seen him pick up the pieces from a relegation and suffer a serious and debilitating bout of Covid among other things, it would be a significant step in his own coaching career, and his relief would be palpable.

Bannan added: “There’s a lot of things that people from the outside don’t see with what the gaffer has had to deal with and change. He’s done that. It’s alright just turning up and seeing the team on a Saturday, but there’s things at the training ground that he has changed – the whole culture of the club and there’s a togetherness now.

“It has been here (before), but not as strong as this. It is like one big family and it is one of the biggest things I have seen. He has got his own team in now and starting to get results. I have had loads of managers in my career and he’s a top manager and top man.”