THE framed photos at Adam Reach’s family home back in his native north-east could do with a few special additions.
A photo of the Sheffield Wednesday midfielder’s debut goal in professional football – in the colours of Middlesbrough in a game against Doncaster Rovers on the last day of the 2010-11 season – is proudly resident in the hallway at the Reach household in Chester-le-Street.
Pictures of Reach enjoying a milestone moment or two in the Premier League would represent further choice images – but the clock is starting to tick.
Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of Reach’s move to Hillsborough and despite a rewarding time at S6, his declared aim when he joined the club – achieving a return to the top-flight – is yet to be fulfilled.
The 26-year-old does have brief memories of sampling the big time at Anfield, Etihad Stadium and the Emirates Stadium from cup forays during his time at Boro, but plainly craves more.
Reach, who scored in a 2-2 draw and netted in an epic penalty shoot-out in the Teessiders’ Capital One Cup tie at Liverpool in October, 2014 and came on as a substitute in the club’s shock FA Cup win at Manchester City four months later, said: “It has been great (at Wednesday) but also disappointing as we have not quite managed to achieve what we first set out to when I came. We have been close.
We have kept our heads together and the togetherness within the team is as strong as it ever has been. It is a good opportunity this season.Adam Reach
“When I signed, my aim was to help this team get promoted.
“I have had some good memories at Premier League grounds in my time at Middlesbrough. We played at Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool. First and foremost, you enjoy the occasion to play in a cup game in front of big cameras, but after you realise that is where you want to be week in, week out – testing yourself against the best players in the world.
“That is still my aim three or four years on. I think I am in a better place and more importantly, the team is.
“My dream is to be a Premier League player. You can ask anyone at this club and footballers up and down the country and I am sure it will be their aim.
“It is something that on one hand, you think will never come but it can soon change if you are part of a team that is successful.You can find yourself in the Premier League and then who knows how it ends up after that?”
You would struggle to meet a more polite, well-mannered and genuine footballer than Reach, but inside that demeanour lurks a steely individual whose determination was forged through the pain of rejection.
That came when he was shown the door as a teenager by Newcastle United – the club he idolised – with Reach channeling the hurt to earn a second crack at a professional career at Boro, but not before suffering another snub at Hartlepool United.
That same fierce drive to succeed is also in evidence when you broach the subject of reaching the Premier League and helping to end Wednesday’s long absence.
Reach, part of an Owls squad who will crown a very presentable opening to the season if they dispose of QPR today, acknowledged: “Saying it and doing it are two different things but I think we are on the right path. Everyone can see there is an energy about the team this season.
“There are always dramas and we had one earlier this season with the manager going. But we have kept our heads together and the togetherness within the team is as strong as it ever has been. It is a good opportunity this season.
“As of right now, there are not many other clubs that have a better opportunity than Sheffield Wednesday.
“We are sitting in a nice place and it is probably the best start since I have been here and we always seem to grow in the Christmas period and second part of the season. If we can put ourselves in a good position, come that time, we are in a hell of a good place to get in the play-offs.”
With a host of well-regarded and established Championship players in their ranks including the likes of Reach, Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson, Tom Lees and Steven Fletcher, that optimism is not misplaced – even accounting for it very much being ‘early days’ in Wednesday’s 2019-20 campaign.
“We’ve got a squad of very talented Championship players who most people would like and say we are players who warrant playing in teams at the high end of the division,” added Reach.
“But there is always that question mark of can they do it in the league above and there is only one way you can find out to prove yourself.”