Blast From The Past this time around isn’t about a match, it’s about a man.
Kevin Pressman is (in these media-generated hype driven days when the term ‘legend’ is merrily bandied about for any old lag with a tough attitude and a couple of seasons under his belt) a giant of a footballer. He’s the Owls second highest post-war appearance maker, turning out in SWFC colours 478 times over 17 (count ’em) seasons, from his debut on September 5th 1987 to May 8th 2004.
On his day, he was one of the best. He never quite made the full England squad, the international B team his highest achievement, but he’ll be remembered and rightly revered for his unstinting efforts between the Wednesday sticks. Owls keepers (including such stalwarts as Chris Turner, Chris Woods and Pavel Srnicek) came and went, but Pressman, as he always did, soldiered on.
I’d long wanted to write a piece on Big Kev, but the spark came recently when I read a sentence on the official site. It says this: ‘Over the course of some tempestuous latter campaigns, Pressman remained a steadying influence in the team and his experience was vital to the Owls’ cause.’
Of course it was, I thought, no question.. so I decided to find out just how much. I read some match reports from a time when Owls fans far and wide were feeling a now familiar sinking sensation.. the way down, the slide. And KP was there, front and centre, simply doing what he did best, getting on with his job in the only way he knew how, a stand up guy resisting the enemy on the pitch, not distracted by off-field shenanigans and woes. Case in point? Let’s look at one particular season, 2001/2.
Not one of our best. Our second season in the Championship since the fall from Premiership grace. Two managers: Peter Shreeves in his second stint, and subsequently Terry Yorath. Surviving the drop by a single point. Not a time I remember with any great longing, but one of the few cherishable memories is the attitude of the big man between the sticks. You want some proof?
17th September 2001 – the then Bradford manager, Jim Jefferies, and Peter Shreeves, join forces to sing the praises of.. guess who. Pressman was in sensational form, producing three stunning saves to deny Bradford victory in the Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough, a couple of days after doing pretty much the same against Wimbledon.
A couple of weeks later, there he is again, defying the Blades: saving one-handed from Curle, making a double stop from Asaba and Ndlovu and getting his body in the way of a Suffo effort. ‘It was a one-man show but we couldn’t beat him, despite creating numerous chances.’ said United manager Neil Warnock. ‘I went on to the pitch afterwards and presented him with an imaginary bottle of champagne.’
In the following match, Big Kev saves three penalties to send the Owls through to Round 4 of the League Cup at the expense of Crystal Palace.. he had an affinity for penalty competitions, as we shall see.
I read on. Coming up to Christmas, Pressman defiant once more, seeing off the Baggies, saving twice from Jason Roberts and excelling in a sterling second half display for the ten-man Owls, following Trond Soltvedt’s dismissal in the first half. Towards the season end, when things were definitely getting very squeaky, fending off Bradford again – three saves from Cadermarteri, Sharpe and Ward, and a 2-0 Wednesday victory. Boy, they must have been sick of the sight of him.
And it went on.. vital points gained, survival eventually ensured. Awesome.
Of course all Owls fans will remember those penalty competitions and Kevin’s part in them. 1995 immediately sprang to the mind of many on our forum, the FA Cup fourth round replay vs. Wolves. OK, we lost the match, but Pressman’s penalty kick was a rocket. If his opposite number had got behind it, he’d have been in the net with the ball.
1998, the FA Cup third round vs. Watford: there he is again, saving one and scoring one to help the Owls through. The aforementioned Palace match in 2001.. saving one and scoring one (again) vs. Grimsby in the LDV Vans in 2003.
He was there during Wednesday’s most recent purple patch at the start of the 90s, of course, but generally on the sidelines (an injury early doors kept him out for eight months), and we can only speculate what would have happened in 1993 if he’d have been our #1. Chris Woods was a fine keeper, but Pressman’s form, determination and professionalism made him the man for the job in many Owls fans hearts and minds, and he was pretty much an ever-present from 1993/4 onwards, racking up ten more years with the Owls.
He was our Greatest Ever Owls Keeper. Thanks for the memories, big man.
Read more about classic Wednesday matches and memories in our Archive here.