James Shield's Sheffield United Column: One simple step to prevent what was an absolute nonsense from happening again
The 22nd of September was World Car Free Day.
Tel Aviv's Ayalon Highway was deserted. Minneapolis' main thoroughfares too.
Meanwhile, here in the Steel City, we did our bit for this initiative by ensuring the streets were gridlocked.
Forcing Sheffield United to play a home game when thousands of students moved into their new accommodation proved a nonsensical exercise in logistics, rank poor planning and, for those caught-up in the chaos, keeping their patience.
Taking an hour to reach the stadium from the Parkway would be bad enough. Taking nearly two, which I can personally testify was the case last weekend, is utterly ridiculous.
To make matters worse, especially for those paying supporters who either missed the kick-off against Preston North End or the entirety of the match, the situation was wholly avoidable.Â
Without apportioning any blame, because a number of different parties were all responsible for the mess, a cursory glance of the region's 'What's On' calendar would have been enough to avert this preventable and potentially dangerous situation unfolding in the first place. Glancing through the newspapers, forewarning of disruption on the railways, might also have helped.
The solution, if the council, United, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) and South Yorkshire Police fancy speaking with one voice, is petitioning the English Football League to ensure Chris Wilder's side do not play at Bramall Lane on 'moving in' day.
After contacting many of the above before writing this column, (some replied, others didn't), I discovered it is possible to make exactly this type of representation before the fixtures are announced. Fulham, for example, request they are away every year when the boat race takes place.Â
Appeals can not be frivolous but, an EFL source has confirmed, all are considered on their merits. With SHU halls, flats and houses surrounding United's ground, it makes sense for Sheffield Wednesday to be at home when those arriving for study are transporting their belongings.
That way, unless the institution can reschedule Fresher's Week, we should be spared the sight of players dumping their cars and sprinting through the streets in order to report on time or the referee, I'm reliably informed, nearly missing the team announcements.
What happened was unfair on residents, SHU's latest intake and United supporters. But, and in this instance the EFL should be excused, I fear those outside of football frequently disregard what its fans feel or think.