Curran genius shows no sign of becoming history

Wednesday legend: The mercurial Terry Curran, arms aloft, in familar pose during his time at the Owls
Wednesday legend: The mercurial Terry Curran, arms aloft, in familar pose during his time at the Owls
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Hi-de-Hi! Good morning campers and welcome to 1980.

Can you remember what you were doing? Some reading this may not even have been born.

It was the year the holiday camp sitcom Hi-de-Hi was first broadcast, John Lennon was assassinated, Pac-Man was launched, six terrorists took over the Iranian Embassy in London before being ejected by the SAS and Mount St Helens erupted killing 57 people.

It was also the year that Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday were last together in the third tier of English football.

The season may be famous for the Owls’ 4-0 win in the 1979 Boxing Day massacre at Hillsborough, but it was 1980 when the two clubs went their separate ways. For the record; Wednesday went up, United stood still.

Since then they have frequently met in the upper echelons of the football pyramid without finding themselves in such a lowly position at the same time.

Turning the clock back to Easter Saturday in 1980. Bramall Lane was packed to the rafters with 45,156 fans as well as the BBC cameras.

Wednesday, third in the table, were looking good for promotion while United were back in the pack. But it was Harry Haslam’s Blades who opened the scoring.

John Macphail gave United a thoroughly deserved lead just before half-time. However, the Macphail header ended up being a mere footnote in Sheffield derby history.

And that’s because the equalising goal from Terry Curran has frequently been described as the best ever between the two teams.

Curran had been in outstanding form all season. But no one could have expected him to score when he picked the ball up from a Dave Grant throw in by the left wing corner flag in front of the Wednesday fans in the Bramall Lane end.

Curran twisted and turned back towards his own goal; he cut inside brushing away the challenges of the United defence and then unleashed a shot of fully 30 yards high into the top right hand corner of the net.

Wednesday hung on for the point – which proved crucial given their promotion to the old Division Two was by a single point. A deflated United could only finish 12th after winning just three of the last 20 matches.

The Star began the year with an expose, or maybe that should be a lack of an expose, about women saying mini-skirts would never make a comeback.

It was hardly surprising that legs were being well-covered as the city was in the grip of a cold snap that made local roads treacherous with snow and ice.

Sheffield was also at the heart of a steel strike. Workers walked out at the turn of the year demanding a 20 percent pay rise. The strike lasted nearly 14 weeks. After beginning in the nationalised sector, the stoppage gradually spread to the privatised steel works. The Lever inquiry recommended a package worth 16 percent in return for an agreement on working practices and productivity deals. Problems in the steel industry were a constant theme throughout the year.

The closure of OH Steelfounders, the city’s largest steel foundry, lost 800 jobs. Ashlow Steel and Engineering in Alsing Road was another famous old firm to shut its doors for good with a workforce of 950 being put out of work.

As the year ended to the sound of St Winifred’s School Choir singing There’s No One Quite Like Grandma there was more turmoil at the steel works.

British Steel Corporation announced plans to conduct a ballot of its 132,000 members. And there were fears that 3,000 local jobs were to go as part of 20,000 nationwide.

And at Bramall Lane plans were being unveiled for a £400,000 running track.

It was a funny old world in 1980. Ho-di-ho indeed.