Martin Smith: Sheffield Wednesday's problems at home need to be put in context

There’s no place like home – unless you’re Sheffield Wednesday, it seems.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 1:47 pm
Hillsborough. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

The Owls have not won at Hillsborough for 11 games and many are already fearing the worst with the shadow of the club’s 12-point deduction darkening daily.

But there are no real home games for anyone now are there?

Home games used to mean intensity, solidarity and a crowd noise you could feel in your chest. They had tradition, pantomime, ceremony. Fans.

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Now all we hear remotely is players yelling at each other, clapping coaches and the echoing thud of every kick.

Home advantage means nothing, the so-called 12th man has gone home and he’s not coming back for a while yet.

Up and down the leagues we see teams being turned over in what were previously home ‘fortresses’ – something Hillsborough has not been for a long time.

You can’t judge a manager on his home record any more, Covid restrictions have truly moved the goalposts, pun intended.

But everyone is in the same boat when it comes to needing points and it doesn’t matter where a team earns them.

Clubs, players and managers have to adjust and adapt to succeed in the conditions in which they find themselves.

Just like everyone else.

*For those who can’t remember him - and for a lot that can - the scale of the reaction to Frank Bough’s death might come as a surprise.

‘Wasn’t he the one who got sacked from the BBC for using drugs and prostitutes’, might be a first response.

And yes, he was, in an era when shocking behaviour and the BBC were not quite so publicly well acquainted as they have recently been.

Bough had been the face of the BBC’s sport and current affairs programming for years, clipped and sharp, his delivery had a hint of patrician BBC toff softened by the warmth of a kindly neighbour.

He really was the BBC’s top man in a way that doesn’t really exist any more.

More’s the pity that his class and talent are forever tainted by the excesses of his middle years when, so he said at the time, the pressure of 4am starts got to him.

Did they ever. The nation was truly shocked.

But for a generation of sports lovers the enthusiasm and precision of Bough’s presentational style on the Grandstand of the 60s and 70s will always hold special memories.