Column: More work carried out on Â£1m Hillsborough playing surface
It really is true when they say a year is a long time in football.
In early March 2015, Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri had just concluded his £37.5m buyout of Wednesday, who couldn’t buy a goal or home victory.
Fast forward a year and the Owls occupy the final Championship play-off position, having turned Hillsborough into a place opponents fear coming to.
Tomorrow they entertain Rotherham United seeking to extend their remarkable unbeaten home run to 17 in all competitions. It is 14 in the league without defeat and their best sequence of results at Hillsborough since 1997 when David Pleat was in charge. Pleat’s Premier League side contained some serious attacking talent, including David Hirst, Benito Carbone and Regi Blinker. They only lost once in front of their own supporters all season.
One of the main reasons why Wednesday have done better at home is the improvement in the playing surface. It was terrible last year and forced them to be more pragmatic and play the percentages. Ex-boss Stuart Gray even claimed it contributed to their injury problems.
To combat the issue, Chansiri spent over £1m on relaying a new pitch over the summer. Problem solved.
But since the turn of the year the pitch has deteriorated. It has started to cut up and look a little worn in places. It is still playing true but is not a bowling green.
Is it a minefield? Defnitely not. Can sides still get the ball down and play? Absolutely. It just should, after such a hefty investment, look aesthetically better than it currently does.
Despite the poor state of the pitch, Wednesday continue to churn out good results in their own backyard.
It would have been easy for the club to have ignored the pitch, but they haven’t. Preventative measures have been taken to stop it getting any worse. I understand they have spent a substantial amount on grow lamps and the pitch has been re-seeded. There has also been an additional increase in the power supply at Hillsborough so hopefully we will start to see a steady improvement in the future.
The fact of the matter is that it won’t be the pitch’s fault if Wednesday fail to pick up maximum points this weekend.