Sunday 11 October 2015

Memorable Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal meetings

My beloved Sheffield Wednesday are preparing to face Arsenal in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup at Hillsborough at the end of the month. The match provides a great excuse to look at some memorable meetings between the Owls and the Gunners. Here's a few of the best:

Wednesday 1 - 1 Arsenal, 6 January 1979  
The first of five games between the sides in this thriller of a third round FA Cup tie - four replays were needed for Arsenal to get through, eventually winning one of the all time great finals 3-2 against Manchester United. The match nearly didn't go ahead as an Arsenal team featuring David O'Leary and Pat Rice looked dubiously at the frozen pitch and flying snowballs. But when South Yorkshireman and cup final hero Alan Sunderland headed in past Chris Turner after nine minutes that must've dissipated. Jeff Johnson hit back with a second half header of its own and the Owls had chances to win it. The tie would eventually be settled (after another 1-1, a 2-2 and a 3-3) but while Arsenal won the trophy, Wednesday ended the year with the glorious Boxing Day Massacre against Sheffield United.  

Wednesday 1 - 1 Arsenal, 5 May 1993 
The 112th FA Cup final was one of three Wembley meetings between the sides that year and the only one Wednesday didn't lose. A Wednesday side crammed full of stars (Chris Waddle, David Hirst, Mark Bright) came back from behind to level and dominated the second half. With manager Trevor Francis looking on in dodgy sunglasses, the Owls held their own and Hirst's poke in from John Harkes' nod back was deserved. Sadly it wasn't to be when the sides met the following Thursday but this was a great day for the blue half of Sheffield after the glorious victory over the Blades in the semi final. 

Wednesday 6 - 0, 31 December 1907
I won't claim to have been alive at the time but Wednesday, then still known as The Wednesday Football Club notched up their best ever victory against Woolwich Arsenal on New Year's Eve at the start of the last century. Some 9,000 Yorkshiremen turned up to see the First Division rout against an experienced Arsenal side featuring prolific goalscorer Bert Freeman, who was kept at bay. 

Arsenal 3 - 3 Wednesday, May 9 2000
Although Wednesday were relegated from the top flight (so far, yet to return) after a dismal season, the team's fate was sealed with a thriller at Highbury. Goals from Gerald Sibon and Giles De Bilde put the Owls 3-1 up and dreaming of staying up before, cruelly, late goals from Silvio Silvinho and Thierry Henry, which typical finesse, sealed Peter Shreeves' Owls' fate. It was a far cry from just four years earlier when Wednesday legend David Hirst literally rattled Arsenal with the fastest shot in history - 114mph - which thumped against the crossbar. 

Wednesday 1 - 0 Arsenal, 26 September 1998

To flip the common memory of this game - i.e. Paulo Di Canio's hotheaded push of referee Paul Alcock after he received a red card, and subsequently an 11 game ban - let's look at the result. A fantastic game saw chances at both ends with Dennis Bergkamp and Nicolas Anelka coming close and big Brazilian defender Emerson Thome thwarted by Gunners keeper Alex Manninger. Midfielder Lee Briscoe had missed a far easier chance before his last minute lobbed winner over the Austrian deputy keeper (to England shot stopper David Seaman). One of the most memorable days at Hillsborough of the 1990s for various reasons with victory over the champions secured. (I do remember BBC Radio 5live crossing to this game and shouting "and Paulo Di Canio!" - 'yesss!" I shouted thinking it a goal - "…has pushed over the referee!". Oh.) 

What have I missed? Pop comments below.