Wham: Going ballistic at Accrington Stanley

There has been a bit of discussion on the calling off and whether (no pun intended) it was or wasn’t the correct decision. I’m going to take a different tack. Right or wrong,  I’m glad it was, and here’s why:

First, here’s a short video taken about 2.45.

You’ll notice the water lying on the surface as the ball is kicked by one of our players. This was the less claggy part of the pitch but it was equally unhelpful to attack and defence. The other end, where we were defending, marginally helped the attack. Clearances were misjudged or stuck before reaching recipients, tackles missed, loose balls favoured forwards, that kind of thing. Others might disagree but I thought conditions made it difficult for our pass and move game.

Accrington won the toss (or so I assumed) and enforced a change of ends so we were attacking the pictured goal during the first half. Although it was wet and it was definitely going to rain again, the rain that had hoyed down while we were enjoying the pre-match refreshments had eased by kickoff, to the extent that there were dry spells and even patches of blue sky during the first half. The weather gave no side an advantage during the first half.

Then came half time and with it came a change of weather. It blasted down. Wind and rain, heavy, then worse, right into Sunderland’s faces, with no sign of let up.  Nevertheless, we were holding our own and we even scored.

But science, particulalry the old and venerable science of ballistics, was against us.

It was Galilleo who first worked out the parabolic path of a projectile and he and others came to the conclusion that a cannonball fired at an angle of 45 degrees would travel the furthest. A higher angle and the projectile would go up and back down but not so far forwards. A lower angle and gravity would pull the object down to the ground before it could go as far.

All well and good, but Galilleo more or less neglected the effect of air resistance and he definitley took no account of the height of the stands at Accrington or the weather they get in December. Nowadays, cannons are usually fired at angles lower than 45 degrees because air resistance does have an effect.

And footballs are a bit more likely to be affected by air resistance than cannonballs, which played right into the hands of Accrington Stanley.

In the second half Sunderland’s attempts to play the ball low were doomed to failure. The ground wouldn’t allow  passing football. But kicking it high was equally doomed. Once the ball went above the level of the stand it encountered this:

this is the full size video of the one Malcom published earlier.

You can see the rain, you can guess the force of the wind. On the motorway going home Radio Lancs, discussing the Burnley game, said winds in the valley reached 60mph.

When we tried to clear the ball and it went above the level of the stands the wind caught it and virtually stopped it in its tracks. We did well to get it into our opponents’ half. Accrington, on the other hand, only needed to welly the ball at an angle greater than 45 degrees to launch  a wind-assisted missile downfield. They were big lads and they did that well. On Saturday the Wham arena lived up to its name. Could our lads, lashed by rain, footholds precarious, have withstood  an ariel bombardment? I wonder.

I also wonder if Accrington knew what the weather was likely to do and swapped around for that reason. Maybe I’m suspicious, but I think they did

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