Date:Wednesday April 12 2006
Not for the last time this season Sunderland have made Premiership history. When Mike Riley decided to halt proceedings due to the weather in the match against Fulham the other day, this was the first time ever in Premiership history.
Never before had a Premiership game had been abandoned due to the weather. While three games have been halted by floodlight failure in the league's 14-year history, never had the elements resulted in a match being abandonned.
It was also the first time a match had been abandonned at the Stadium of Light since it opened in 1997.
However, match official Mike Riley believes the decision was the correct one, and desputes claims the match should never have started,
'We thought we would get the game started in the hope it might clear up, but the longer the game went on you could see the ball was not rolling and the players could not keep their footing.
'The likelihood was that someone would get injured. We tried to carry on, but conditions did not improve and we had to stop the game. Both managers said it was the right decision.
'The players on both sides were unhappy with the conditions.'
However by this time an injury had already occured, with suggestions that Rory Delap's collision with George McCartney was in fact due to the blizzard conditions. The Irish international, who has been one of Sunderland's star performers since arriving from Southampton, suffered a broken nose in the incident and was forced off.
Regarding this Riley continued,
'No-one mentioned to me on the pitch that the injury might have been caused by the conditions.
'Talking to people afterwards, they said it might have been a contributory factor. At the time, I saw two players going for the ball, slipping and colliding.
'It's the sort of thing that could have happened on a bright, sunny day in August, but it was obvious the underfoot conditions did not help.'
Delap is fighting to be fit for this Friday's trip to Manchester United, and boss Kevin Ball will be hoping the midfielder will recover in time to help Sunderland pull-off an unlikely win and put off relegation once again.
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