Sheffield Wednesday announced via their official website, www.swfc.co.uk that captain Darren Purse has left the club by mutual consent on Thursday evening.
The former Cardiff City defender joined the Owls on a free transfer in the summer of 2009 but his Wednesday career got off to a slow start and after a number of indifferent displays he found himself out of the side before Christmas with the club struggling in the Championship. Shortly after this the man who signed him at Hillsborough, Brian Laws lost his job as manager and when he was replaced by Alan Irvine in January 2010 Purse was given the opportunity to resurrect his career, a chance he didn’t pass up. He was arguably one of Wednesday’s best performers in the second half of the season, a fact which was recognised by the fans as he finished 3rd in the player of the season awards but despite his much improved performances he was unable to prevent the Owls from suffering relegation in his first season at the club.
With Wednesday amongst the favourites for promotion from League One in 2010/11 season they got off to a strong start and were well positioned after the first month thanks largely to them boasting a good defensive record with captain Purse at the heart of the back four.
Despite the good start to the season Purse was unable to sustain a level of consistency and on too many occasions his mistakes were proving costly as the Owls conceded goals that would cost them points and his distribution often left a lot to be desired. Things came to a head from a fans point of view last Saturday when Wednesday found themselves 2-0 down at home to Charlton within ten minutes as Purse was slow to cover for the first goal and then got caught out by a ball over the top and went on to concede a penalty. Sadly his last appearance for the club resulted in him getting a chorus of boos from sections of the Hillsborough crowd for the remainder of the first-half.
As a captain Purse always conducted himself in a dignified manner despite not having the backing of a section of the support following his slow start at the club. He was a good ambassador for the club and did a great deal of work off the field with a variety of duties as captain including helping with the club’s links with the Sheffield Children’s Hospital charity.
His experience within the sport will have undoubtedly been of benefit to some of the younger players at Hillsborough and unlike many players in the modern game Purse always gave 100% on the field and didn’t let the stick he received effect this. Unfortunately on too many occasions his best wasn’t good enough and the timing of the departure is probably the right decision for both the club and the player.
Wednesday have already brought in three defenders during the transfer window, all of whom have experience of playing at centre-back and these young players have been signed on long-term contracts with the future in mind. Purse has been linked with Millwall, the club he is said to have supported as a boy and owls-mad would like to wish him all the best for the future.
The position of captain now has to be filled with goalkeeper and Owls fan Nicky Weaver being touted as one of the favourites, he has certainly been one of the clubs best and most consistent performers this season and obviously has the passion but it is often argued that goalkeepers aren’t best-placed to lead the team on the field.