A Wednesdayite in New York

One of our original members of the New York Owls - Craig Hutchinson recently wrote a fantastic article for the Barnsley matchday programme, for the game against us this past Saturday, about what it's like being a Wednesdayite in New York and how he came to be one.

Craig has been kind enough to share it with us here on our blog for everyone to read so here you go. You can get hold of Craig on Twitter @CragHutchinson

A Wednesdayite in New York

Logically speaking, I should have been a Barnsley fan. My parents live in Barnsley, my Dad’s a Barnsley season ticket holder, and I still remember being taken to Oakwell as a little kid and standing on a milk crate to watch matches. Then My Old Man made the fateful decision to take me to Hillsborough for the first time in 1988 and that was it… I fell in love and was a Wednesday fan from there on out. 

Since 2003 however, it’s been a little more challenging to get to Hillsborough, given the 6000 mile roundtrip it usually takes. 

After graduating from the University of York St. John with a Sports Studies and PE degree in 2003, I took a summer job in Massachusetts coaching football. I’d already done so the previous summer, but this time I had no more university, and no job, to come back to. So when I was offered a coaching job in California after the summer ended, I accepted. This job snowballed into a career in coaching which settled me in Boston, MA for several years before I moved to New York to work for the New York Red Bulls in 2008. Aside from coaching with the Red Bulls, I began to get involved in the media department too and became the team’s on-camera correspondent for the 2010 season – not a bad one considering it was the first year that the team had left Giants Stadium for its new home at Red Bull Arena. It was also the year the team signed Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez from Barcelona. Not bad for a kid from Wath-Upon-Dearne, in my first few months of working as a broadcaster, I’d interviewed the likes of Henry, Marquez, Gareth Bale, Alessandro Del Piero, Patrick Vieira, Franz Beckenbauer, Robbie Keane, Luca Modric and many others. 

Whilst I was saturated in soccer (oops, there it is) every day of my professional life, it became a little more challenging to catch Wednesday matches however, especially in the dark days of League One. There is a big football culture in the U.S., every major city has bars which open up at the crack of dawn in order to show every televised match despite the time difference, and NBC’s Premier League deal means that every match is shown live. For fans of teams outside of the top flight, catching those games was few and far between until recently. These days BeIn Sport carry the Championship and show several games per week on its TV channels or online, The Wednesday (as well as Newcastle & L**ds) are the most regularly featured teams. Wednesday began to be shown on TV so much that the New York Owls supporters group was formed five years ago in our host bar of the Football Factory in Midtown Manhattan, literally over the street from the Empire State Building. We have grown from four people at our first meet up, to dozens of members in NYC alone, not to mention the other SWFC chapters that have popped up all over the United States and the Americas. Group activities and live match meet-ups are coordinated at the Owls Americas Facebook page which has almost 300 members, plus we tend to get a few traveling Owls on holiday in New York that join us too. 

This season has been a treat in terms of televised games, Wednesday have been televised around 10 times already this year and most have been good to watch – though the missed penalties against Brighton and then L**ds really screwed up those two matches for us! Fortunately, the New York Owls are capable of laughs and banter when games don’t go our way; it might have something to do with matchday drinking sessions beginning at 7am. Unfortunately the Barnsley match is not televised despite the kickoff time being shifted to earlier in the day, so I’ll have to resort to following the game on Wednesday iPlayer and Twitter while my Dad takes his usual seat in the East Stand Upper Tier. 

Due to my Dad’s influence, I’m not a BFC hater. I like to see Barnsley do well when it’s not a conflict of interest for the Wednesday and we both share a mutual hatred of those pigs out of Bramall Lane. And a win at Oakwell, although tricky given how fiery South Yorkshire derbys always are, would be a priceless result in the race for promotion. No love lost between father and son in games like this! Who knows, maybe Sammy Winnall will finally remember where the back of the net is again once he gets back there? 

These days I live and work in Manhattan as a Coaching Director whilst still dabbling in media work (though to be honest, I probably do more NFL coverage than MLS these days – look out for me in New England Patriots press conferences). Whilst this means I only get to Hillsborough once or twice a year these days (or not at all this year, I only got to do Preston away while I was back in December), at least I get to see them live on TV once or twice a month in the company of fellow Wednesdayites.

If any Wednesday fans – or even Barnsley fans, I’m sure we’d welcome you into our home – happen to be visiting the Big Apple during football season, feel free to reach out to us on social media and join us for the matches. Football Factory’s greatness is that it is always packed with fans from around the world with dozens of TV’s showing every live game all at once. 

 It’s home away from home.


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