Every Wednesday fan going to watch the Owls in recent weeks seems to have an extra spring in their step and to be filled with a new kind of optimism. Is it because Dave Jones has gone? Is it because results have picked up? Is it because we are playing better? Maybe it's a complex interaction of all these factors but I think the main reason can be highlighted in two words: Connor Wickham.
He has become our talisman, the guy who supporters can hang their hopes and dreams on, the guy who the fans feel can dig the team out of a hole when needed, the guy who the supporters BELIEVE in and who has helped them enjoy watching the team play again. At the time of writing it is still uncertain whether we will be able to extend his loan beyond the end of January, but it got me reflecting that however important other positions in the team are, football is essentially about scoring goals and to keep the supporters engaged, motivated and happy, every team needs a good striker to put the ball in the "onion bag". I would love to hear the views of other Wednesday fans on who are the three best strikers they have personally witnessed in the famous blue and white stripes.
Now I know Derek Dooley was a goal scoring sensation but he was before my time so I can't include him. I'm also excluding the wide midfield men such as the great Waddle, Henderson, Alan Finney, Terry Curran, Di Canio, etc. Nevertheless I have witnessed a plethora of really good strikers in my time such as Keith Ellis, John Hickton, David Ford, John Ritchie, Andy McCulloch, Mick Prendergast, Rodger Wylde, Jack Whitham, Carl Shutt, Gary Bannister, Lee Chapman, John Pearson, Imre Varadi, Dalian Atkinson, Paul Warhurst, Benito Carbone and Mark Bright to name but a few. But if I had to name my top three strikers I have seen playing for Wednesday in the last 50 odd years of following them, my top three strikers would definitely be David Hirst, David 'Bronco' Layne, and John Fantham in that order.
All 3 could lay claim to top spot but I have chosen these 3 for the following reasons:
Injury prone but had the lot. He had tremendous pace, power, finishing with either foot, could run the channels when needed and was brilliant in the air. He had the hardest shot I have ever witnessed and had great vision for a striker. When fit and on form, comparable to any striker of his or any other generation. A truly great player and although his career may be regarded as "if only........" due to injury, he is a legendary figure amongst the fans at S6. Those who saw him play in his pomp understand fully why Alex Ferguson wanted to smash the British transfer record to sign him.
DAVID 'BRONCO' LAYNE:
What a striker this guy was and but for the 'bribes' scandal I have no doubt he would have been playing for England in the 1966 World Cup. Free-scoring, great determination, all-action bustling centre forward who was impossible to contain and like Hirsty, Bronco had a shot like a rocket! 58 goals in 81 appearances speaks for itself!
Johnny Fantham was more of an inside forward with a real striker's instinct who could score all types of goals from the tap in to the spectacular. He had great positional sense and his tremendous vision coupled with a powerful shot made him a special player. He became the successor to Albert Quixall (who was just before my time) and I believe he would have won many more caps for England but for a certain Jimmy Greaves! Fantham is our post-war record goalscorer and fully deserves his place in the top 3 strikers at our Club since 1960.
So there we have it. In my opinion Hirst, Bronco Layne and Fantham are the 3 best strikers I have witnessed playing for Wednesday in my time. Who are the best strikers you have seen representing SWFC and why. Please feel free to contribute to this debate.
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