Tag Archives: Barnsley

The Clubs: Barnsley

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
38 10 5 23 37 82 -45 35 1


Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Neil Redfearn 37
Darren Barnard 35
Nicky Eaden 35
Adie Moses 35
Martin Bullock 32
Dave Watson 30
Ashley Ward 29
Arjan de Zeeuw 26
Andy Liddell 26
Darren Sheridan 26


Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Neil Redfearn 10
Ashley Ward 8
Jan Aage Fjortoft 6
Gjorgji Hristov 4
Jovo Bosancic 3
Darren Barnard 2
Eric Tinkler 2
John Hendrie 1
Scott Jones 1
Andy Liddell 1


Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Barnsley 2-0 Coventry City 20th October 1997 1997-1998
Barnsley 4-3 Southampton 14th March 1998 1997-1998
Barnsley 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 27th August 1997 1997-1998
Barnsley 2-1 Wimbledon 28th February 1998 1997-1998
Barnsley 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday 11th April 1998 1997-1998


Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Manchester United 7-0 Barnsley 25th October 1997 1997-1998
Barnsley 0-6 Chelsea 24th August 1997 1997-1998
West Ham United 6-0 Barnsley 10th January 1998 1997-1998
Arsenal 5-0 Barnsley 4th October 1997 1997-1998
Wimbledon 4-1 Barnsley 23rd September 1997 1997-1998



Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Danny Wilson 1 5th July 1998


Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Barnsley 0-2 Manchester United 10th May 1998 18,694 1997-1998
Barnsley 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday 11th April 1998 18,692 1997-1998
Barnsley 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 18th April 1998 18,692 1997-1998
Barnsley 0-2 Arsenal 25th April 1998 18,691 1997-1998
Barnsley 2-3 Leeds United 29th November 1997 18,690 1997-1998



Barnsley enjoyed one season of top-flight football in 1997-1998 and their fans certainly made the most of the experience following their surprising promotion from Division One. Danny Wilson’s side fought against the odds throughout the season and although they took a few thrashings along the way, they also recorded 10 victories, including a wonderful 1-0 success at Anfield in November. However, the Tykes just lacked the cutting edge to avoid relegation and they went down on the penultimate weekend of the season. Apart from a play-off final defeat to Ipswich Town in 2000, they haven’t been close to returning to the top-flight since.



Barnsley made a wonderful start to their Premier League life, taking the lead on the first day inside nine minutes against West Ham United through a header by Neil Redfearn. However, the Hammers came back in the second half to win 2-1. Days later though, Redfearn was on-target again at Selhurst Park as the Tykes won their first away match in the division 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

Danny Wilson’s side continued to battle all season, despite taking a few pastings from the elite in the Premier League. They were beaten 6-0 at home by Chelsea, 7-0 at Old Trafford by Manchester United and 5-0 against Arsenal at Highbury. Barnsley conceded 82 in the season – an average of 2.1 goals per game and that made the battle to avoid the drop very difficult.

There were highs for the supporters. Ashley Ward – an August arrival from Derby County scored the winning goal at Anfield in November to record one of the shock victories of the season. Ward finished with eight goals – two behind the top scorer who was Redfearn. However, relegation was confirmed at Filbert Street on the final Saturday of the season. Theo Zagorakis’ goal gave Leicester City a 1-0 victory which confirmed Barnsley’s demise back to Division One. Wilson left in the summer to fill the managerial vacancy at his former club Sheffield Wednesday and since then in the last 20 years, the Yorkshire club have been flirting between the Championship and League One on a regular basis.

However, the Barnsley supporters will never forget their one-season experience in the Premier League.


Premier League Files: Ashley Ward

Premier League Career: Norwich City (1994-1995), Derby County (1996-1997), Barnsley (1997-1998), Blackburn Rovers (1998-1999), Bradford City (2000-2001)

Ashley Ward played for five different Premier League clubs and was often brought into sides by teams struggling to avoid the drop. This means he has the unfortunate distinction of being relegated no fewer than four times. Out of the clubs he represented in the top-flight, his best days were most probably at Derby County and Barnsley.

Born in Greater Manchester, he was the son of a coal mining engineer and despite making it into football; it was rugby and lacrosse which he often played more of during his school days due to the selection made by the Grammar School he attended. Although he had a spell in Manchester United’s Junior B team, it was Manchester City where he signed apprentice forms in 1989, choosing them ahead of Blackburn Rovers.

He made his name as a 22-year-old at Crewe Alexandra and scored 25 goals in 61 appearances for Alexandra, becoming one of the leading marksmen in the English lower leagues. Norwich City boss John Deehan was impressed and in December 1994, he made a move for Ward who made the sudden leap straight into the Premier League, signing for the Canaries. He was seen as the long-term replacement for Chris Sutton who had joined Blackburn Rovers five months earlier.

Ward had a marvellous debut, scoring twice in Norwich’s convincing 3-0 home victory over Chelsea but the Norfolk club’s form collapsed in the second half of the season, slipping from seventh place at the turn of the year to relegation by the conclusion of the 1994-1995 season.

After 18 goals in 53 appearances for the Canaries, Ward moved to Derby County in March 1996, helping the Rams win promotion to the top-flight. He contributed to their impressive debut season, scoring a late winner against Chelsea and ultimately, the decisive goal in Derby’s brilliant 3-2 away victory at Old Trafford in April against Manchester United. Ward’s place in Derby history was sealed by scoring their last-ever goals at The Baseball Ground in May 1997, although it came in a 3-1 loss to Arsenal.

He finished with nine goals in that campaign and having finished things off from a Derby perspective at The Baseball Ground, he made a great start at their new stadium of Pride Park. He technically scored the first goal at their new home against Wimbledon. However, it didn’t count in the record books because a floodlight failure caused the game to be abandoned after 56 minutes with Derby winning the match 2-1 at the time. By the time the fixture was rearranged, Ward had departed.

Jim Smith sold him to newly-promoted Barnsley in September 1997. The Tykes had just been promoted to the Premier League for the first time in their history and Ward enjoyed his time in Yorkshire. He scored memorable away winners against both Liverpool FC and Aston Villa. However, despite his best efforts, Barnsley were relegated at the end of the season. He initially stayed with them after relegation and in November 1998 in a First Division match against Sunderland, he scored a goal, missed a penalty and got sent off in the space of five crazy minutes! It was one of his final games for the club.

Brian Kidd made him one of his first signings as Blackburn Rovers manager, joining Rovers in December 1998. However, he didn’t rediscover his solid goalscoring form he’d shown at both Derby and Barnsley and Blackburn were relegated, just four seasons after being crowned Premier League champions. He joined Bradford City for their second Premier League season in the summer of 2000 but experienced a fourth relegation in 2000-2001 and after another four seasons in the Football League with the Bantams and Sheffield United, he retired in the summer of 2005.

By that point, Ashley was already planning his future and that was in the world of business. He runs a luxury property development company called Bilton Ward and is a director of the interior design company Arista Design. Ward has also featured on the ITV reality series The Real Housewives of Cheshire as his wife, Dawn, is one of the central characters.

Memorable Matches: Barnsley 4-3 Southampton (March 1998)

Goalscorers: Ashley Ward 17, Egil Ostenstad 24, Scott Jones 31, Matt Le Tissier 40, 70, Jan-Aage Fjortoft 42, Neil Redfearn 57 PEN


Barnsley: Dave Watson, Scott Jones (Eric Tinkler 82), Nicky Eaden, Chris Morgan, Adie Moses, Martin Bullock, Darren Barnard, Darren Sheridan, Neil Redfearn, Jan-Aage Fjortoft, Ashley Ward (Andy Liddell 37, Georgi Hristov 64)

Southampton: Paul Jones, Francis Benali, Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam, Ken Monkou, John Beresford, Matt Oakley, Kevin Richardson (Andy Williams 57), Matt Le Tissier, David Hirst, Egil Ostenstad

Referee: Gerald Ashby, Attendance: 18,368

Barnsley remain one of the smallest clubs to have played in the Premier League and their fans will never forget the 1997-1998 season when they rubbed shoulders in the top-flight with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

They entertained Southampton in March 1998 and were looking to make it three wins in a row after an excellent victory in midweek at Villa Park against Aston Villa. They made the perfect start here too. Ashley Ward, who had scored in that win in the Midlands, put the Tykes into a 17th minute lead. He spun away from his marker Claus Lundekvam and crashed a low shot past Paul Jones’ defences.

Southampton, who were enjoying a comfortable season in the reaches of mid-table, hit back seven minutes later. Egil Ostenstad forced home the equaliser after some patient build-up play and slack home defending. However, Barnsley were showing plenty of character in what was their debut Premier League campaign and in the 31st minute, regained the lead. Jones came for a corner and never looked like getting there. It was his namesake, Scott Jones who won the aerial battle and put the home side back into the lead. Scott Jones had been the hero recently, having scored twice to dump mighty Manchester United out of the FA Cup at the fifth round stage.

The Saints though were producing great entertainment in this topsy-turvy clash and produced a second leveller five minutes before the interval. Jason Dodd broke down the right-hand side and his pinpoint cross was headed into the net by Matt Le Tissier. Just before Le Tissier’s equaliser, Ward was forced off the pitch by a hamstring injury but 120 seconds later, Danny Wilson’s battlers earned themselves a third lead in the match. Midfielder Martin Bullock beat two Southampton players, before crossing the ball for Jan-Aage Fjortoft to smash the ball into the roof of the net.

It was 3-2 at half-time and Barnsley finally earned themselves some breathing space and a two-goal cushion just before the hour mark. Fjortoft’s shirt was tugged in the penalty area by Lundekvam. It looked like a standard jousting contest but referee Gerald Ashby decided there was enough contact to award a foul. Captain Neil Redfearn dispatched the penalty with some aplomb. Dave Jones said afterwards: “The referee told me this was his last match before he retired and maybe he wanted to go out with a bang. I just wish he’d retired before today.”

With 20 minutes left, Le Tissier produced another of his trademark free-kicks to bring the visitors back into the match again but they couldn’t find another equaliser and left Oakwell with nothing to show for their efforts. Southampton finished 12th in the final standings whilst despite going on to beat Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday in home matches during the run-in; Barnsley’s relegation was confirmed at Filbert Street on the final Saturday of the season.

Referees in the Middle: Stephen Lodge

Premier League Career: 1992-2001

First Premier League Match: Middlesbrough 2-0 Manchester City (19 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Ipswich Town 2-1 Manchester City (7 May 2001)

Living in Barnsley, Stephen Lodge now works as a local government officer. In his previous occupation, he spent 14 years as a referee in both the Football League and Premier League before retiring at the end of the 2000-2001 campaign.

Born in 1952, he took control of his first games at just 19-years-old in the local Barnsley & District Football League. After five years in the Football League top-flight, Lodge was included on the first referees’ list for the inaugural Premier League season.

His first game of 175 Premier League matches came on 19th August 1992 at Middlesbrough’s old Ayresome Park ground. Two goals from Bernie Slaven helped newly-promoted Boro defeat Peter Reid’s Manchester City 2-0. In total, he flashed out 535 yellow cards and 24 red cards during his nine seasons in the top-flight. In fact, his first red card wasn’t shown in a Premier League match until 30th April 1994 when Aston Villa goalkeeper Nigel Spink was dismissed in Villa’s 4-1 loss at The Dell to Southampton.

1996 was a busy year for Lodge. In that year he took charge of an FA Cup semi-final, a Football League Cup semi-final, and the FA Vase final of that year, in which Brigg Town beat Clitheroe 3-0. A year later, he got the big accolade of the FA Cup final as Chelsea defeated Middlesbrough 2-0. Roberto Di Matteo scored the fastest FA Cup final goal at the time; a record that stood for 12 years.

The 1998-1999 campaign was Stephen’s most demanding. He gave out 99 yellow cards in this season alone. This included eight bookings in Manchester United’s 2-0 triumph over North West rivals Liverpool FC in September 1998 and a penalty awarded to the home side for a handball by Jason McAteer.

Lodge’s most funniest moment came in the M69 Derby in November 1999 between Coventry City and Leicester City. Early on in the game, he attempted to show off his skills by back-heeling the ball during a break in play and famously fell over, giving everyone who attended the game at Highfield Road a real laugh.

In May 2001, Lodge retired from the game that he had enjoyed and won respect from many. His last Premier League appointment came at Portman Road. Ipswich Town came from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1 on a night which sealed City’s relegation from the top-flight. He continued in a part-time role with the popular indoor Masters Football tournament for several years after his professional finale.

Alongside his government officer role, Lodge is still involved nowadays in football as a Premier League referees’ assessor.

Referees in the Middle: Gary Willard

Premier League Career: 1994-1999

First Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Everton (23 August 1994)

Final Premier League Match: West Ham United 4-0 Middlesbrough (16 May 1999)

Gary Willard’s final Premier League match was in 1999 as West Ham United defeated Middlesbrough 4-0 on the final day of the season. This meant he fell three games short of taking control of a century of Premier League matches.

From Worthing in Sussex, Willard became a Football League referee in 1990 at the age of 31. Four years later, he earned himself promotion to the Premier League list of officials for the 1994-1995 season. His first Premier League game was Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 home victory over Everton in August 1994. Jurgen Klinsmann marked his home debut with two goals, whilst Willard also awarded a spot-kick to Spurs which was missed by Teddy Sheringham. A few days later, he dished out his first red card in the top-flight to Leicester City’s Nicky Mohan in the Foxes 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest.

In total, Gary handed out 340 yellow and 19 red cards during his five-year career as a referee in the Premier League. However, there is no doubt what his hardest match was and that came at Oakwell in March 1998 as Liverpool FC travelled to Yorkshire to face Barnsley.

Liverpool won the game 3-2 but it was the Tykes who got the short straw as by full-time, they had been reduced to eight men. First, Darren Barnard was dismissed in the 53rd minute for tripping Michael Owen as the young striker raced clear for a shot on-goal. Next, Owen was involved in another incident with Chris Morgan and went down clutching his face. Willard decided Morgan had made deliberate intent to hurt the player, so gave him his marching orders too. This led to a fan running onto the pitch in a vain attempt to confront the referee. This led to a police escort and Willard took sanction in his own dressing room for five minutes as he desperately seeked protection in a highly-charged atmosphere.

Worse was to come. Martin Bullock had a scuffle with Paul Ince and in stoppage-time; Darren Sheridan was shown a second yellow card and also, saw red from Willard. Incredibly, he’d only given three yellow cards in the same match.

An officer for the Inland Revenue away from his refereeing duties, Willard’s last appointment actually came in UEFA competition, taking charge of a UEFA Cup tie between Lausanne Sports and Celta Vigo in September 1999. Due to “personal reasons,” he wouldn’t officiate again in any professional competition.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Barnsley (November 1997)

Goalscorer: Ashley Ward 35


Liverpool FC: David James, Stig Inge Bjornebye (Danny Murphy 65), Bjorn Tore Kvarme, Dominic Matteo, Jason McAteer, Jamie Redknapp, Patrik Berger, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Steve McManaman, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Michael Owen

Barnsley: Lars Leese, Darren Barnard, Arjan de Zeeuw, Nicky Eaden, Peter Markstedt, Adie Moses, Martin Bullock, Neil Redfearn, Eric Tinkler, Andy Liddell (Matty Appleby 68), Ashley Ward (John Hendrie 86)

Referee: Jeff Winter, Attendance: 41,011

The 1997-1998 Premier League season was Barnsley’s first-ever in the top-flight. Their supporters were ready to enjoy the ride but the Tykes had already taken some hefty beatings by the end of November 1997. They’d lost 5-0 away at Arsenal, 6-0 at home to Chelsea and 7-0 at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Therefore, the Yorkshire side travelled to Anfield low on confidence and fearing the worst.

Liverpool needed just three more goals to reach 400 Premier League strikes at Anfield and manager Roy Evans gave a start to his new young prodigy, Michael Owen. Danny Wilson also made a big call by dropping his first-choice goalkeeper Dave Watson and replacing him with German Lars Leese.

The goals were expected to come for the home side but Barnsley stayed resilient in the first 30 minutes. Patrik Berger tested Leese with a long-range effort before Karl-Heinz Riedle wasted two very good opportunities. The German had scored twice in the UEFA Champions League final for previous club Borussia Dortmund just six months earlier. However, he was finding the going very tough in English football.

Then, the Anfield faithful were stunned when the visitors took an unexpected lead through a goal of comic proportions. Andy Liddell managed to escape David James’ clutches and got to the by-line before squaring the ball back. Berger got to the cutback first but his poor control saw summer signing Ashley Ward poke the ball home into the unguarded net to score one of the easiest goals of his career. By half-time, the Liverpool FC supporters were fed up and booed the team off at the interval. They might have been missing Paul Ince and Robbie Fowler but it had been a very disjointed performance from those who played.

There was a slight improvement in the second half and Leese was by far the busier goalkeeper. He denied Owen and summer arrival Oyvind Leonhardsen in the opening moments of the second period. By now, Barnsley were firmly penned back in their own half but they wouldn’t budge. Leese was enjoying his day in-goal and defensive debutant Peter Markstedt looked like a seasoned campaigner as Owen struggled to make the telling impact. Most of Liverpool’s chances fell to Riedle but he wasted more opportunities. First, he shot over after being set-up by Stig Inge Bjornebye before being played through by substitute Danny Murphy, only to fire straight at Leese’s legs. It just wasn’t the home side’s day.

Barnsley’s tremendous goalkeeper and heroic defensive effort meant they had just pulled off one of the shock results of the season. Although they would be relegated at the end of the campaign, their supporters will always look back on this amazing day on their only top-flight visit to Anfield when they silenced The Kop and left with three welcome points.

Premier League Files: Neil Redfearn

Premier League Career: Barnsley (1997-1998), Charlton Athletic (1998-1999), Bradford City (1999-2000)

In a playing career that spanned an amazing 24 years, Neil Redfearn made 790 appearances in the Football League which is the fifth highest of all-time. He also got the opportunity to feature in three Premier League campaigns for three different teams and has also experienced a taste of management, albeit not too successfully for either Rotherham United or Leeds United.

Redfearn began his career with Bolton Wanderers in 1982. It would take another 15 years before he managed to reach the limelight of Premier League football. During this time, he would play for Lincoln City, Doncaster Rovers, Crystal Palace, Watford and Oldham Athletic. The main highlight of his first decade playing was helping Oldham reach the top-flight of English football in 1991. However, the signing of Mike Milligan from Everton meant he was deemed surplus to requirements by the Latics management and he would sign for Barnsley that summer.

Seven seasons at Oakwell would follow, during which he became the club’s regular penalty-taker and captain. In 1996-1997, Barnsley surprised pretty much everyone by reaching the Premier League, finishing second behind Bolton Wanderers and earning promotion. Redfearn was the key figure that season, contributing with 17 goals.

His position in Barnsley folklore was secured when after nine minutes of their opening match in the Premier League; he headed home their first goal at this level against West Ham United. West Ham recovered to win the match 2-1 but Redfearn made an impressive impact on the top-flight. Days later, it was his long-range strike from distance that secured the Tykes first-ever victory in the Premier League away at Crystal Palace. Redfearn finished with an impressive 10 goals and only missed one match in the entire campaign. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep Barnsley in the division. This made him a wanted man and he would move on from Yorkshire in the summer of 1998.

Newly-promoted Charlton Athletic paid £1 million for Redfearn’s services, as he ended his Barnsley career with 84 goals in 338 matches. He scored three times in 30 games but as his family struggled to settle in London, his stay at The Valley would be restricted to just a single season. He returned to his native Yorkshire and joined another newly-promoted team in Bradford City a year later. He struggled at Valley Parade, scoring just once against Leicester City before going on the move again, this time to Wigan Athletic. He ended his playing career in the non-league in 2008 with Salford City.

Management has been less successful, winning just 16 league matches combined with Leeds and Rotherham. He was out of work from February 2016 until December 2017 when he became manager of Women’s Super League Two side Doncaster Rovers Belles.

Premier League Files: Arjan de Zeeuw

Premier League Career: Barnsley (1997-1998), Portsmouth (2003-2005), Wigan Athletic (2005-2007)

He was stopping attackers throughout his Premier League career. Now Arjan de Zeeuw is attempting to stop criminals in his new profession. After retiring from the game in 2009, the Dutchman decided to return to his homeland and not to coach or manage either. He is working as an investigative detective, attempting to crackdown on drugs and human trafficking incidents in the Netherlands.

In contrast to today’s modern day footballers, de Zeeuw turned professional at the more mature age of 22. That was because he was doing a University degree in medical science which shows his passion for his new career. Back in the 1990s and 2000s though, his job was to restrict the number of goals that were going into the back of the net. In 1995, he moved to England, joining Barnsley for a fee of £250,000 and he scored his first goal in the country during a 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town in December.

De Zeeuw became a vital player during the Tykes’ most successful chapter in their footballing history, inspiring them to promotion to the Premier League in 1997. The defender made an impressive step-up to the leading level of English football even if his team were the leakiest defence that season. Barnsley were relegated after their debut season and it seemed like de Zeeuw would leave the club. He turned down a new contract and Leicester City were poised to snap him up as a replacement for Steve Walsh. However, new Barnsley manager John Hendrie managed to persuade Arjan to sign a new one-year deal and try to inspire them back to the top-flight. Barnsley didn’t mount a serious challenge for promotion though and de Zeeuw did eventually leave Oakwell in 1999 for Wigan Athletic.

He became a colossus for Wigan too and won the club’s Player of the Year award for back-to-back campaigns in 2001 and 2002. With his contract running down at Wigan, Harry Redknapp was quick to convince him to move to Portsmouth in the summer of 2002. It was an inspired decision. De Zeeuw’s graft and guile was significant in Portsmouth having the best defensive record on their way to the First Division title in 2002-2003.

Voted Portsmouth’s Player of the Year as they survived their debut season in a creditable 13th position, he was given the captain’s armband by Redknapp in the summer of 2004, succeeding Teddy Sheringham who was heading to join West Ham United. 2004-2005 was de Zeeuw’s best goalscoring season. He scored in three Portsmouth victories, including the winner at Bolton in November 2004. This was the first match in charge for Velimir Zajec, who had succeeded Redknapp days earlier.

Now in the latter days of his career, Arjan wanted to play first-team football regularly but new Pompey manager Alain Perrin refused this request. They fell out and consequently, de Zeeuw was more than happy to rejoin Wigan Athletic for a second spell, and therefore, embark on their maiden adventure in the Premier League.

Again, he had an important role for a newly-promoted side. His performances even won praise from government. Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair went on the BBC’s magazine show Football Focus in November 2005 and said this of de Zeeuw: “He’s really strong, never gives up. I could do with him at the whips’ office!”

After Wigan staved off relegation on the final day of the 2006-2007 season, de Zeeuw was released by the club and was offered a job by Roberto Martinez to join his coaching staff at Swansea City. He decided that he still wanted to play and turned the role down, electing to sign a one-year deal with Coventry City. He left a year later and retired in 2009.

Part of de Zeeuw’s new role sees him specialising in forensics. He still finds occasional time to play football and has even captained the Netherlands national police team.

The Managers: Danny Wilson

Premier League Clubs Managed: Barnsley (1997-1998), Sheffield Wednesday (1998-2000)

Hailing from Lancashire, Danny Wilson has managed a host of different clubs in various guises. He had overseen promotion and relegation campaigns and has provided the supporters of clubs he’s managed with high and low points. 17 years have passed since his final management role in the top-flight. Although there were notable results during his time with both Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday, a 12th-place finish is the best he has to show for three Premier League seasons in management.

League Cup specialist

As a player, Wilson’s specialist subject was the League Cup. He was part of the Luton Town squad that won the competition in 1988 against Arsenal, scoring in the final. He repeated this trophy success at Wembley three years later as Sheffield Wednesday got the better of Manchester United.

He won 24 caps for Northern Ireland between 1987 and 1992 and played briefly in the inaugural Premier League season for the Owls. Wilson’s most successful statistics at playing level came at Brighton & Hove Albion. He scored 35 goals in 135 appearances between 1983 and 1987.

In 1993, Wilson took his first steps into coaching with Barnsley, leaving Sheffield Wednesday behind to become assistant manager to Viv Anderson. He would continue his playing career at the same time with the Tykes. When Anderson left in the summer of 1994 to link-up with Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough, Wilson made the step-up into management.

In 1996-1997, Danny took Barnsley into the top-flight of English football for the first time in the club’s history. A 2-0 home win over Bradford City secured Barnsley’s place in the Premier League as they came runners-up in Division One to Bolton Wanderers.

Impressing the Owls

Naturally, Barnsley’s sole Premier League campaign was a tough one and they had the worst defensive record in the division. Among the hefty losses were a 6-0 home defeat to Chelsea and a 7-0 demolition by Manchester United at Old Trafford. A strong home record though kept Wilson’s side in the mix to escape relegation until the penultimate weekend of the season.

A 1-0 defeat at Filbert Street to Leicester City ended Barnsley’s Premier League adventure but Wilson’s tactical approach and no-fear attitude impressed the hierarchy at his former club, Sheffield Wednesday. With Ron Atkinson stepping down, a vacancy opened up at Hillsborough and he decided to take it.

It was hoped he could revive the fortunes of the club. Sheffield Wednesday had finished season 1997-1998 down in 16th position and the early signs were promising. There were home wins over champions Arsenal and Manchester United and he also dealt well with the Paolo di Canio situation – suspending the player immediately after he had shoved referee Paul Alcock over during the victory over the Gunners’. The club finished 12th in his first full season and aims for 1999-2000 were to break back into the top half of the table. It didn’t quite pan out like that though.

Poor recruitment

Wilson signed Gerald Sibon and Giles de Bilde in the summer of 1999. Neither player was a qualified success. Also, some of his more established stars were beginning to show their age. They made the worst start in Premier League history, tallying just one point from their opening nine matches and taking an 8-0 pummelling from Newcastle United during that sequence.

At the turn of the New Year, four Sheffield MPs called for Wilson to be relieved of his duties. They included former Home Secretary David Blunkett. A brief rally followed and Danny would win the Manager of the Month award for January 2000. However, after just five victories in the league, he was sacked by the board in March, days after a damaging 1-0 away defeat to already doomed Watford. Sheffield Wednesday were ultimately relegated.

Since then, Wilson’s management career has been in the lower leagues of English football. He did guide Hartlepool United to promotion from League Two in 2007 and even had a second spell back at Barnsley – albeit not as successful as his first spell. His latest role came at Chesterfield which ended in January 2017 with the club losing their League One status by the end of the 2016-2017 campaign.

Danny Wilson was a manager who worked hard in the Premier League but never quite broke through into the top echelon of managers in the British game.