Sheffield Wednesday: Clouds may have silver lining

Jacques Maghoma splashes through the water on the Hillsborough pitch

Jacques Maghoma splashes through the water on the Hillsborough pitch

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It was the most water I’d seen on the Hillsborough pitch since 2007, when the game was abandoned the other night, writes Paul Thompson.

I am not referring to the great Sheffield flood of that year.

Almost six months after the pitch was submerged by an overflowing River Don, a home game against Coventry was halted in the 28th minute, when the pitch was waterlogged and the score was 0-0.

It happened on Saturday, December 8, 2007.

On only one other occasion since the Second World War has a Hillsborough match been abandoned.

That was on January 20, 1973, when Bristol City were the visitors and proceedings were ended in the 54th minute because of snow.

The score was 0-0.

On all three occasions there was no argument about the referee’s decision but after the Bristol game there were questions about whether the match should have been played at all.

Thousands of fans stayed away because of the snow.

Bristol City arrived only just in time to hand in their team sheet before the 2,30pm deadline; the match went on after two inspections, but snow fell during the game: the ball was sticking, players were skidding and the lines were becoming obscured.

After the Coventry match managers Iain Dowie and Brian Laws, the then Wednesday boss, agreed that ref Graham Laws was right to abandon it before someone got hurt.

Dowie said he had never seen Hillsborough so wet. Conditions were similar to this week’s.

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the pitch had been hastily returfed in the summer after a properly seeded one had been wiped out by the June flood.

I cannot remember previously seeing rain at the ground as heavy as the deluge that arrived just after half time on Wednesday.

In the 2007-08 season, the re-arranged game against Coventry ended in a 1-1 draw in April.

In 1973, Wednesday won 3-2 on the new date against Bristol City, in March.

The silver lining of the rain clouds is that the Owls will have another crack at a useful Wigan side and a chance to do better after a worrying dip in this week’s first half.