Ted Lasso gave a less than subtle nod at the real story behind Sheffield Wednesday’s eponymous name during the latest episode of the sports comedy. Widely praised for its warmth and relentless optimism, Ted Lasso follows a folksy American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who moves across the pond to coach AFC Richmond, an English Premier League team. Despite no prior experience in association football and an admittedly limited knowledge of soccer in general, Ted begins to win the hearts and minds of those around him by embodying the same charming qualities that have made Ted Lasso an immediate sports TV show hit for Apple TV+.
Aside from its infectious charm, Ted Lasso has also garnered praise for its accuracy in portraying the modern English game. The series continues to draw comparisons to the takeover of Chester City F.C. in 1999, where American coach Terry Smith purchased the club and subsequently shocked the English media by also installing himself as the first-team manager. Smith’s lack of understanding surrounding English football at the time is mirrored by Jason Sudeikis’ Ted Lasso, whose confusion over the day of his team’s Sheffield Wednesday fixture was likely shared by anyone unfamiliar with the south-Yorkshire based team.
Ted Lasso wastes no time in driving home the real story behind Sheffield Wednesday’s name. Sheffield Wednesday is one of the oldest teams in English club football, founded in 1867 to keep their members fit during the cricket off-season in winter. The club name is, perhaps unsurprisingly, derived from the fact that each of its members did not work on Wednesdays and so could play matches at the same time each week. The exchange between Lasso and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), in which Lasso confuses the name of AFC Richmond‘s next opponent for the date of their fixture, is utilized to illustrate the humble origins of Sheffield Wednesday F.C. The setup of the joke is excellent scripting, enabling ample laughs before Beard can dryly explain that Richmond is, in fact, playing Sheffield Wednesday on a Saturday.
Sheffield Wednesday is also not to be confused, as Ted Lasso did in season 2, with Sheffield United F.C., their cross-town rivals with whom they contest the ‘Steel City Derby’ every season. As Coach Beard painstakingly points out, Sheffield Wednesday has since dissolved their convenient mid-week scheduling. The club is also currently plying their trade in the third-tier of English football after suffering a heartbreaking relegation from the Championship on the final day of the 2020-21 season.
The cultural differences between England and America, coupled with the innumerable permutations of English football, are the bedrock on which Ted Lasso bases its humor. Yet, it is the perseverance of Sudeikis’ Lasso that makes the Apple series so compelling. In the same way that Ted breaks down the walls of a grieving divorcee and AFC Richmond football club owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), Ted Lasso inexorably worms its way into the heart of the viewer, whether they are familiar with the intricacies of the Football Association pyramid or not.