A number of games have fallen victim to the weather in recent years, when snow and ice has left the Bramall Lane pitch or surrounding areas unfit for players or fans. But not many have been called off because of an unexploded bomb from the Second World War, with other United matches also not kicking off on their original date or time because of the coronavirus pandemic and Prince Philip’s funeral.
“You get used to matches being called off for all sorts of reasons,” Keith Edwards, the legendary former Blades striker, said. “But that isn’t one of them.”
Edwards was a member of the United squad that was informed their game against Oldham Athletic would not go ahead in 1985 – because of an unexploded 2200lb bomb from The Blitz, discovered just 24 hours before kick off a good goal kick away from Bramall Lane.
The game was postponed, local residents were moved away for their own safety – apart from one, Leung Ho, who watched the bomb disposal team at work from his house 50 yards away – and the delicate process of making it safe took 36 hours, with the team working in pairs in a trench dug alongside the bomb. It had been dropped on Sheffield 44 years earlier.
United and Oldham returned to Bramall Lane a few days later, with the Blades winning 2-0.
“When you think of what people were going through back then, what it must have been like, it puts everything we’re going through now with Covid-19 into a bit of perspective doesn’t it?” Edwards added.
“I know it’s been really tough for lots of people out there and tragic for some too. But I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have been like, having bombs dropping on you out of the sky.
“The people who made the bomb safe obviously did a brilliant job, and it’s not one I’d fancy doing. It does make you think that, as footballers even in our day and age, we didn’t have too bad did we?”
Some years later, the Blades’ Premier League clash with Wolves was postponed to a 8.15pm kick-off to avoid clashing with the funeral of Prince Philip, while United’s pre-season game at Dundee United was abandoned at half-time after the rain of Storm Francis made the pitch unplayable.
An abandoned game against West Bromwich Albion went down in infamy as the ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ as the Blades had three men sent off, while the Blades were forced to play a Premier League game against Burnley last December despite being hit by a number of positive coronavirus cases.
But QPR boss Mark Warburton revealed earlier today that he has 10 players isolating, insisting that he was looking forward to the game at Bramall Lane – “a great place to go and play football” - against Paul Heckingbottom’s resurgent Blades.