Offside’s Premier League A-Z: W is for wet and windy

W is for wet and windy…

A huge part of football’s charm is its inherent unpredictability. Balls bounce, deflections happen and no result is ever certain. Add the changeable agents of rain, wind and adverse weather however and a game can become a toss up lottery of slapstick action and mud-flinging drama.

Waterlogged pitches and stormy conditions are often regarded as the ultimate leveller. After all, as the meme goes: Lionel Messi’s good, but could he do it on a wet, windy night in Stoke?

Simon Stacpoole: Adverse conditions at the Britannia.
Simon Stacpoole: Adverse conditions at the Britannia.

That’s a bit much, but it’s no lie that the sodden pitches of Britain have long acted as footballing graveyards for those more delicate dribblers and finesse players more used to passing and playing over pleasant greens than getting stuck into the high-octane trench warfare of cut-up turf.

Mark Leech: Tyrone Mears tackles Wayne Rooney and the spray flies from the waterlogged pitch.
Mark Leech: Tyrone Mears tackles Wayne Rooney and the spray flies from the waterlogged pitch.
Mark Leech: Dennis Bergkamp leaves a trail of spray as he slides across the turf after squaring the ball for Ljungberg's goal.
Mark Leech: Dennis Bergkamp leaves a trail of spray as he slides across the turf after squaring the ball for Ljungberg’s goal.

Many a footballer, from the elite ranks down to the Sunday leaguers, have been made victims of a sudden blast of wind when attempting  a cross, a free-kick or other form of delivery over distance. The rippling sound of corner flags caught in a gale are a common aural accompaniment for those near the front row on an autumn-winter match day.

The wet and windy climate of the UK ultimately inspired the rough-house style of play native to much of the British Isles, and gave prominence to the types of home grown players that have become synonymous with the Premier League.

Simon Stacpoole: Steven Gerrard clears the ball with a header in the rain at Stoke.
Simon Stacpoole: Steven Gerrard clears the ball with a header in the rain at Stoke.

Strong and tough box-to-box midfielders were ideal for powering through the mud, rain and full-blooded tackles of the English football field, and remain an iconic part of the nation’s game. Well-built target men and muscular No. 9’s aren’t easily deterred by high winds or a ruined pitch. No nonsense, old-style stoppers and destroyers are ready to wreck and rumble whatever the weather.

Mirrorpix: Denis Law celebrates the first of his two goals as he returns to football after serving a 28 day suspension.
Mirrorpix: Denis Law celebrates the first of his two goals as he returns to football after serving a 28 day suspension.

Due to this heritage of heavy-going conditions, the Premier League has come to be regarded as one of the fastest, furious and most exciting leagues in the world. There’s no doubt that other nations can boast football of greater technical skill and sophistication, even today, but there’s a physicality to English football that’s hard to beat. And for that, we must thank the weather.

Marc Atkins: A linesman jumps up and down to keep warm at a chilly KC Stadium.
Marc Atkins: A linesman jumps up and down to keep warm at a chilly KC Stadium.

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com. Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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