The Oakwell club have not won any of their last ten meetings against Wednesday, with five defeats and five draws including in the last three derbies which have all ended 1-1. Other than doing the double over the Owls in the 2008/09 season, Barnsley have not beaten Wednesday in 21 meetings since a 3-0 win in 2001.
Former Barnsley player Tonge – who is from Goldthorpe – never played at Hillsborough for Barnsley, while his only Reds appearance against Wednesday saw him come off the bench with three minutes left in a 3-0 home loss in 2006.
Tonge told the Chronicle: “I always felt, when I was growing up, that Wednesday away was the biggest game and it felt like that when I was a player as well. There are lots of big rivalries in our vicinity but, for me, Wednesday was always the biggest one. If we were to get a good result there, we would really be off to a flying start and it would be a massive boost to the fans and everyone at the club.”
Barnsley sold out their initial allocation of 2,000 tickets. Like the Reds, who won their first game at home to Fulham, Wednesday also made a good start with a 3-1 success at Reading on Saturday. They are currently managed by caretaker Lee Bullen following Steve Bruce’s move to Newcastle United last month.
Tonge said: “Lee has done a really good job every time he has been asked to take the team. They had a good start to the season. They have a very, very experienced side and we expect a tough game in a good atmosphere. It’s the first away game for a lot of our lads, and it’s a big one, but they are all looking forward to it. We will have thousands of fans there and we will go there full of confidence with no fear.”
Tonge – assistant to head coach Daniel Stendel – was delighted with the 1-0 opening day win over newly-relegated Fulham. He said: “The players were all really confident going into the first game, but the win probably has increased belief even more. To go into a first day of the season with six debutants in the starting line-up and a team that has hasn’t played together many times, is very difficult – especially in the Championship. “It was great to see how they all responded to the occasion and hopefully we can take that into the next game.”