Vital Football

Latest Sheffield Wednesday News

Blast From The Past - 1979

Blast From The Past - 1979

Of all the memorable derby matches over the years, Boxing Day 1979 holds a special place in Sheffield football history.

Held in front of a Third Division record crowd of 49309, the match would change the course of the season for both teams. A massive police presence was evident for Sheffield's all-ticket match of the decade, and the sense of anticipation was immense. Both teams were high in the table: United top, Jack Charlton's Owls fifth. The referee's coin was tossed in the tunnel, captains Mike Pickering and Mick Speight leading the teams out onto the pitch side by side FA Cup style, into a cauldron of noise and surrounded by packed terraces.

The game began, and Wednesday's hard-working midfield of Johnson, King and Hornsby denied the Blades time on the ball and space in which to run. United had a reputation for skill and elegance, but on a heavy pitch and with the Owls snapping at their heels, they couldn't show it, and mistakes were frequent. As a spectacle, for a while, the game didn't live up to pre-match expectations.

On 36 minutes, the breakthrough: Ian Mellor picked the ball up on the left wing, came inside and blazed a shot into the top corner from 25 yards. It was to be the only goal of the half, but United almost managed an equaliser shortly before the teams went in. A shot was tipped onto the bar by Owls keeper Bob Bolder and the ball fell invitingly for MacPhail as Wednesday hearts sank. However, he blasted the ball straight back at Bolder and it was scrambled to safety.

Wednesday came out for the second half with renewed purpose, and a goalmouth incident on 54 minutes changed the course of the game: a crunching collision between King and Speight left the Blades captain with damaged ribs, the influential midfielder was carried off and the pendulum swung in the Owls favour.

Come on down, Terry Curran. The Owls favourite (who played for Southampton the previous year and dropped two divisions to sign for Wednesday) imposed his undeniable (though at times inconsistent) talent on the latter stages of the match, and the Owls ran away with it.

McCulloch raced down the left wing, cut in to the box and crossed for Curran to dive and head home, falling to his knees in triumph at the Leppings Lane end. A minute later, Hornsby fed Curran, who sped away and squared it for Jeff King to side foot into the net. On 87 minutes, Mellor fed the ball through to Curran, who went through, chipped the ball over the keeper and was brought down for a penalty, perfectly converted by Mark Smith.

The match was a turning point for both clubs. Although losing their next match, the Owls then went on a sixteen match unbeaten run, and despite a lacklustre end to the season, managed to gain promotion to Division Two. After a decade spent in the lower reaches of the league, Wednesday had taken their first step on the long journey back to the top, gaining promotion to the top flight in 1983/84. United faded badly to finish twelfth that year (Curran rubbing salt into the wound with a terrific individual equaliser in the return match at Bramall Lane) and were relegated the following year to Division Four.

The next Sheffield derby didn't take place until 1991 and United were 2-0 winners.

But nothing will ever erase the 'Boxing Day Massacre' from the collective memory of all Sheffield football fans: a dream for Wednesday, a nightmare for United.

Sheffield Wednesday: Bolder, Blackhall, Williamson, Smith, Pickering, Hornsby, King, Johnson, McCulloch, Mellor, Curran.

Sheffield United: Richardson, Speight (Cutbush), Tibbott, Kenworthy, MacPhail, Matthews, de Goey, Bourne, Butlin, Garner, Sabella.

Read more about classic Wednesday matches and memories in our Archive here


Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Auckland Owl
Date:Wednesday February 14 2007
Time: 12:00PM

Comments

0
49 thousand to watch a Division Three game. Quite remarkable!
sandgroanun
14/02/2007 13:45:00
0
Search for 'Boxing Day Massacre' on YouTube.com and you'll see 'em. Terraces packed.
Auckland Owl
14/02/2007 19:57:00
0
This was the first Owls match I saw. I was only 9, and I couldn't see a bloomin thing as I was on the kop, but the atmosphere was unbelievable.
Smurf
15/02/2007 09:01:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Sheffield Wednesday Articles

Vital Opinion - Winnall Should Start For Owls At Barnsley

Unless the beast Winnall on his former employers!

Owls Boy Hirst Up For Award

Hirsty in running for EFL award

Owls Boss Carlos States - 'We're Better For The Break'

The countdown is on for Wednesday as season gets underway again

Premier League Free Agents 2017

As the summer nears and contracts come to an end, should the club have an interest in any of the following free transfers from Premier League oppositions?

Archived Vital Wednesday Articles

Vital Wednesday articles from

Site Journalists

Ed Jepson
Editor email
Profile
Tom Sellers
no email
Profile

Current Poll (see more polls)

Will Wednesday finish in the top six?
Suggested By: Vital Wednesday
Yes, dont panic!63%
Yes, if Carlos is replaced!3%
Agony as we just miss out0%
No, we wont this season34%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Newcastle 38 24 6 8 78 38
2 Brighton 38 23 8 7 77 30
3 Huddersfield 37 22 5 10 71 4
4 Leeds Utd 38 21 6 11 69 16
5 Reading 38 20 7 11 67 2
6 Sheff Wed 38 18 8 12 62 9
7 Fulham 38 16 13 9 61 19
8 Norwich 38 16 9 13 57 9
9 Preston 38 15 12 11 57 6
10 Derby County 38 14 11 13 53 3
11 Barnsley 38 14 9 15 51 0
12 Aston Villa 38 13 12 13 51 0
13 Cardiff 38 14 9 15 51 -1
14 Brentford 38 14 8 16 50 3
15 Q.P.R. 38 14 8 16 50 -5
16 Wolves 37 12 9 16 45 -2
17 Ipswich 38 10 15 13 45 -9
18 Birmingham 38 11 12 15 45 -16
19 Bristol City 38 11 8 19 41 -3
20 Forest 38 11 8 19 41 -11
21 Burton 38 10 11 17 41 -14
22 Blackburn 38 9 13 16 40 -11
23 Wigan 38 8 10 20 34 -13
24 Rotherham 38 4 5 29 17 -54
Vital Football Comment
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News
Write for Vital Football

Recent Sheffield Wednesday Results (view all)

Sheffield Wednesday Fixtures (view all)

Apr 1 2017 12:30PM : Barnsley (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 4 2017 7:45PM : Rotherham United (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 8 2017 5:30PM : Newcastle United (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 14 2017 3:00PM : Cardiff City (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 17 2017 3:00PM : Queens Park Rangers (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Apr 22 2017 3:00PM : Derby County (H)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

RankNamePoints
1.dooleys left leg2
The Vital Football Members League