Sheffield Wednesday: Owls make pitch point

Blackpool's Matt Phillips in action against Wednesday on the much criticised Bloomfield Road pitch
Blackpool's Matt Phillips in action against Wednesday on the much criticised Bloomfield Road pitch

My back lawn has only just started to grow, writes Paul Thompson.

What the heck has that got to do with anything, you may wonder.

Well, it’s about a month late and it shows what a winter we’ve had.

The weather has taken such a toll on pitches that their condition has become more topical than I can remember in many years.

You only have to watch the Football League highlights programme on telly to see that there are a few really iffy ones around.

I watched Wednesday and Blackpool trying to play at Bloomfield Road and afterwards walked across the pitch, where groundsmen were replacing countless divots, and reflected how fortunate most clubs are in the modern age to play on flat, well-drained surfaces.

The mudbaths of the Seventies are just about forgotten.

Hillsborough has this season has shown unusual signs of wear and tear - a legacy of the weather over the last year - despite the noble efforts of the groundstaff.

A surface becomes an issue when, like at Blackpool, it has a detrimental effect on the game. The Owls’ satisfaction in taking a point was understandable, in the circumstances - and the cheer that went up from their fans told its story.

I didn’t think that Dave Jones’ “beach” remark represented the most accurate comparison, though there was sand, all right.

To me, it was more like a public pitch that had been uncared for: with quite a lot of grass, but patchy, uneven and cutting up badly.

Maybe there should be a pitch inspector to make sure clubs maintain proper standards. But that is not needed in the vast majority of cases, and of course it is in the home team’s interests to give their players a decent surface. I’m sure that Paul Ince, relatively new in the Blackpool job, will want that issue to be addressed this summer.

Anyway, Wednesday plough on. Ignoring for the moment Bristol City, who were due to play Hull at home last night and are already down, and the teams above Wednesday who are still catchable, here are tomorrow’s fixtures for the teams below the Owls: Derby v Peterborough, Forest v Barnsley, Huddersfield v Millwall, Watford v Blackburn and Charlton v Wolves.