When Blades pipped the Owls by less than a goal!

David Elleray

David Elleray

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They have never gone up previously together so this season could be, and let’s hope it is, a first for the city’s football giants.

However, it won’t be the first time one has pipped the other to promotion.

It will be the third.

At the moment the ‘score’ is 1-1. You might reckon this is some sort of decider!

And when the previous two occasions are checked out there is something of a double coincidental link.

Both are long ago although there will be old-timers following both clubs who will recall one or even both.

Firstly it was in 1939 as the World War Two storm clouds were gathering.

It was the old Second Division (now The Championship). Wednesday were ahead of United for the last 11 games including after their final game.

But United still had one match left to play.

They had to win it to jump over Wednesday into second place and therefore clinch promotion.

Note the opponents - Spurs. And the date - May 6.

As Wednesdayites looked on helplessly, United triumphed 6-1 at Bramall Lane, club legend Jimmy Hagan getting a hat-trick and United’s first goal was scored after just 10 seconds apparently.

Move on 11 years to 1950.

Again it was the old Second Division and United were the ones out in front late on - although there was a bit of leapfrogging.

This time United were the ones who had to sit and wait having completed their fixtures.

Wednesday, a point behind, had one game left.

The opponents? Spurs. The date? May 6.

Imagine the scenario that ensued. Win and they’re up, Draw 0-0 and they’re up. Draw 1-1 and the two would have finished level on points, goals scored and conceded and it would have required a Play-off. A 2-2 draw or above and United were up instead.

Almost 51,00 inside Hillsborough saw the Owls draw 0-0 with Spurs (already champions) and so clinch promotion at United’s expense.

In those days when teams were level, it wasn’t goal difference but goal average (goals conceded divided into goals scored) which decided. Wednesday were promoted above United by .008 of a goal.

n I imagine former top referee David Elleray nodded in assent when the cry went up last Sunday for goalline technology after Martin Atkinson’s misfortune to award a goal in the Chelsea-Spurs semi-final when the ball didn’t entirely cross the line.

The last such semi-final controversy was 15 years ago and, as any Chesterfield fan will tell you, involved Elleray.

This was-it-over-the-line controversy was in their 1997 FA Cup semi-final with Middlesbrough which Elleray refereed.

Everyone is convinced the ball went over the Boro line but, in any event, Elleray blew for some obscure offence no-one has ever fathomed.

When I spoke with him recently, he said he was in favour of goalline technology. I asked him, quite innocently, if he wished there’d been goalline techonlogy for that 1997 game and he said ‘yes’.

It was only the following day when it dawned on me. Why did he wish that? It would have made no difference would it.

Hadn’t he blown the whistle for some offence although no amount of viewing can spot it?

Perhaps Martin Atkinson wishes he’d just blown his whistle at some stage! Cuts any arguments short y’know!

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