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Good old Sheffield!
Good old Sheffield!

Fixtures on Ice - Part 2

By: Chris Smith
Date: 03/02/2010 (Last updated: 12/09/2010)

THIS is the bit I hate now. What to do? Write off the ticket or try and make the best of it? Altrincham were at home but I couldn’t be sure the game was on so didn’t chance it. I thought about Wigan but given the game was against Everton, who would no doubt bring a few, I wasn’t confident I’d get a ticket with no prior purchasing history, so decided to head back home to get a game in.

Given I had ten minutes before I got the next train to Sheffield, I nipped out to the newsagents on the station approach to get the two Man Utd fanzines for February. Whilst I don’t follow United, the fanzines, Red Issue and United We Stand, are first class. I particularly like Red Issue and the columnist Mr Spleen, whose rant three years ago against female linoes made Mike Newell’s transgression in this area look positively restrained. And the very un-PC slag off against Bolton fans as inbreds made my own imaginative insults pale by comparison. I wasn’t surprised to see him call Ferguson a c*** in this issue.

The day started to improve as I realised a game was within my reach, albeit at Hillsborough which is what I should have opted for earlier in the day as I like a day out in Sheffield anyway. I got talking to Steve in front, a Liverpool bloke paying a visit to Rotherham v Macclesfield to chalk off the Don Valley “Stadium”. An Argyle fan, Wednesday’s opponents that afternoon, came along to join the conversation. Turns out he was travelling from Barrow, Cumbria for the game. He was starting to worry this wouldn’t be on though I was able to reassure him about the undersoil heating there.

Oldham should consider undersoil heating. As Simmo pointed out to me, it was too good to be true that Boundary Park was staging a game in January. Whilst I appreciate Grimsby are fortunate in having good groundstaff and the pitch being located by the moderating sea influence, clubs that have endless postponements and poor pitches should be forced to do something about it. It’s called being professional and considerate. Sorry, forgot I was talking about football clubs. Professionalism and customer care don’t really go together in this context do they?

When I get really pissed off with the way football fans (but primarily me) end up as the fall guys (and gals in these PC days), I sometimes forget about the feelings of fans of other clubs and heartily wish that the clubs that fall foul of me be put to death immediately. Forget about the much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I’d feel avenged.

Talking of clubs that should be put to death, Rotherham’s game was called off at gone 1pm. I don’t suppose it inconvenience too many Macclesfield fans, but I thought it was too good to be true that their game was on so checked the fixtures on my mobile to make sure Steve didn’t have a wasted journey to the Attercliffe wastes.

I arrived at Sheffield 45 minutes after leaving Manchester and was at Hillsborough 20 minutes or so after that. Thankfully, I also had time for a decent bite to eat. It was then a matter of parting with £17 at a cash turnstile to go on the Kop. Perhaps I’m not too observant, but only Leeds and Wednesday seem to have signs at home turnstiles warning of arrest if away fans are apprehended after entering here. Quite why anyone would want to invade the Leeds home enclosures is beyond me. Apparently, some Grimsby fans started trouble in The Peacock after our game there (from a reliable Leeds source) and I could hear folk bouncing off the wall from outside. It

sounded painful.Still, whatever turns you on…

Oddly enough, after the pre Christmas performance, the Wednesday band were in fine fettle although I wonder if it restricts and drowns out the spontaneous chanting that is always best. I decided to go right at the back where the laid back stewards let you stand. I think I’ve said it before, but the Kop is an impressive stand. A few hundred Argyle fans were in the middle section of the upper tier of the opposite end and inaudible. At least I couldn’t hear the Green Army chant.

A scrappy opening passed me by, being grateful to be at a game, and with thoughts wandering to our early goal at Aldershot. After three wins on the bounce interrupted by a defeat at Scunthorpe, perhaps Wednesday’s promise under new manager Alan Irvine was to prove unfounded. This is where luck plays such a part in football. Wednesday have come from dead and buried to above the relegation places having obtained two wins against bottom half teams, Barnsley and Peterborough although Barnsley weren’t on a bad run themselves. Plymouth was the ideal chance to pull away further and they had won 3 1 there in August.

Just over 20 minutes had gone when Argyle won a corner (having not put Wednesday under any sustained pressure), which resulted in a header putting the visitors in front. Again, there was the bizarre sight of away fans celebrating without being able to hear a decibel from them. No time for heads to drop though and a throw in about a minute later led to the ball moved on to Luke Varney who swept in from close range to equalise.

Luke Varney featured in the programme and I believed him when he said he felt like a Wednesday player, having happily returned on loan from Derby County. I wish I believed some of the platitudes from Town’s mercenaries. As Stuart Hall would say, Wednesday huffed and puffed but didn’t create much. Neither side was exerting any pressure but the game was absorbing enough. However, Wednesday scored a goal worth the admission fee in itself just a few minutes before half time. A forward ball went to Varney who sprinted past his marker and got into the left side of the penalty area. I had the feeling this could be worth seeing, and I have to confess willed him to score which he did with a shot from a very tight angle. A really top notch effort. Wednesday then ended the half well on top.

Half Time Wednesday 2 Argyle 1

Not much to write about in the second half. I can’t say that Wednesday looked like adding to their total after the exciting end to the first half and Plymouth certainly put them under pressure at times. Not that they looked like scoring either. Wednesday do seem susceptible to crosses into their area however and a few timely clearances were required.

Full Time Wednesday 2 Argyle 1

I hate to say it, but the old enemy have saved two Saturday afternoons for me during the cold snap and only lost a game due to the snow and ice in the locality. Undersoil heating has to be the way forward. As a climate change denier, I’d argue that icy weather in January is the norm if you go longer term than the last decade or so.

Whilst I accept that the capacities of both Sheffield clubs allows for cheaper tickets for run of the mill games, I still think the prices on offer for many games puts Division Four clubs to shame. I’m more and more coming round to the idea that I should be boycotting the likes of Rochdale who charge more for football two divisions lower. As my Oldham supporting colleague pointed out, I probably got better value for money in Sheffield.

The train journey home afforded the opportunity to read a very good programme and get stuck into the Red Issue. Much of this focussed on the interest payments that are bleeding the club dry and the fact that the debt of £700 million is increasing in reality. Whilst I wouldn’t mind the success on the field, they are very much of the view that this is coming to an end as a result of financial restrictions.

I’m not sure, on balance, that I want their problems. As with Town, who would realistically want to buy them?

Of course, the day was spoiled by the inevitable equaliser at Aldershot and I’d spent much of the second half dreading the text confirming what was coming. And why wasn’t I surprised we missed a penalty? I could feel the angst from 190 miles or so.

Anyway, lets see what we can do against Notts County, and if the cold weather continues, show them and other clubs how to get a game on.

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