started as a Sunderland associate schoolboy during Arthur Cox's time at Roker
Park, but signed for Wigan Athletic, then a Northern Premier League club, at
the age of 15.The Spireites' game against Bury in April, 1980, was a
hard-fought thing, and no-one emerged with greater credit than Danny Wilson,
who was one of six Shakers booked that day. A few months later, he became a
His ability to harass opponents while also playing his own
passing game led to his attracting the attention of many top clubs, and
Chesterfield were eventually forced to cash in on his genius as financial
constraints bit hard. Although Dan's fee was not unreasonable by the standards
of the time Chesterfield couldn't afford it, and the interest payments due to
Bury piled up from the moment he signed. He joined Brian Clough's Forest in a
convoluted player plus cash deal that saw Calvin Plummer and Steve Kendal sign
permanently for Chesterfield after loan spells.
Danny's time at the City Ground was quite remarkable, in that he seemed to be overlooked in an unaccountably calculating manner. His ordeal ended upon signing for Brighton, with whom he enhanced his reputation despite suffering relegation to Division Three in his last season. He joined First Division Luton in the summer of '87: the Hatters reached the FA Cup semi-final in his first season and Danny scored in their memorable 3-2 League Cup final win over Arsenal. Danny made his Northern Ireland debut in 1987 and went on to make 24 appearances for his national side.
After three excellent years at Luton Wilson joined a
Wednesday team in need of his inspiration: they were promoted to Division One
and won the League Cup in his first season. He came to be very highly regarded
at Hillsborough, but was allowed to join Barnsley as Assistant Manager to Viv
Anderson. An initial lack of playing success for the pair led to Danny taking a
long time to win the fans over; Anderson left after a year, and Wilson was
promoted to succeed him. Under Wilson, Barnsley became respected as an
excellent footballing side, and won promotion to the Carling Premiership in
1997. Although their stay lasted just one season, Wilson emerged with great
credit for his honesty, humility and apparent determination to avoid a cynical,
"win at all costs" philosophy. Barnsley seemed as desperate to keep
him as other clubs are to have him as their manager: despite pledging his
future to the Oakwell side early in the summer of '98, Danny was tempted to
resign and take up the reins at Hillsborough.
Wilson became Sheffield Wednesday's manager on 6th. July, 1998. He guided the side to a respectable 12th place in his first season but with the side doing less well thereafter, Wilson became the subject of a disgraceful public campaign for his sacking, led by four Sheffield-based members of parliament. The club gave in to the witch-hunt in March 2000.
Three months later he took over at Bristol City and, despite
crafting a fine footballing side, Danny could not deliver the promotion that a
club of their resources expected. He left the Robins in the summer of 2004. He
became manager of Milton Keynes Dons in December 2004 when they looked doomed
for a second successive relegation, but he guided them to safety by beating
Tranmere Rovers on the final day of the 2004-5 season. When MK went down at the end of 2005-6, Danny
and the Dons parted company but Hartlepool United, who were relegated with the Dons,
offered him their manager's job. Under Wilson, Hartlepool were promoted after
just one season in the fourth tier and he guided the side to a respectable 15th-place
finish in League One, but he was sacked in December 2008, the public reason
being that the board felt that Wilson could take Hartlepool no further.
Within a fortnight, struggling Swindon Town moved to appoint Wilson as their manager. He kept them up and led them to the 2009-10 play-offs, but resigned in March 2011 after the Robins had slipped into the relegation zone.
In May 2011 the former Wednesday player and manager was
appointed manager of a Sheffield United that had been relegated to play in the
third tier for the first time in 23 years. The appointment drew strong protests
from Blades fans but these protests rather evaporated when Wilson’s side found
their feet in League One. With Charlton looking odd-on for the title, United
jousted with their city neighbours for the one remaining promotion place,
losing ground only after the imprisonment of striker Ched Evans for rape in
April 2012. Ultimately, they lost to Huddersfield in a crazy play-off final
that saw both goalkeepers forced to take penalties in a marathon shoot-out. With The Blades lying fifth in the League One table in April 2013, Wilson was sacked; The Blades were beaten in the play-off semis by Yeovil, however, failing to get as far without Danny as they had with him, a year earlier.
For Chesterfield: 100 League appearances, 13 goals.