Posted: 10/11/2007
Title: WHERE FOOTBALL KICKED OFF

Blog:                                                                                                                         

     I hope that all my readers know that this is the 150th Anniversary of Sheffield FC, founded on 24th October 1857, and 'Where Football Kicked Off'.  I had the pleasure of going to the Sheffield FC vs Sheffield United match last night at the Bright Finance stadium in Dronfield, Derbyshire. Oldest Club vs Oldest United. More in my 8/27/2006 blog on history.

   It's part of the month long celebrations and wasn't much of a contest as the full timers from Bramall Lane were worthy winners 5-1 and much too strong, with England international James Beattie scoring a hat-trick. Well known names such as Paddy Kenny, Billy Sharp, Lee Hendrie and Rob Hulse were in the team managed by Bryan Robson. The match was refereed by FIFA referee Mike Riley. The club have a tiny but welcoming club shop about 10 feet by 10 feet, run by cheerful Jackie and Dave, some of the many volunteers. Go to www.sheffieldfc.com  for anniversary souvenirs. Jackie said they had customers world wide, and as far as the Falklands. 

Chairman Richard Tims has had the ground spruced up since my first visit 14 months ago, and now they compete in the Unibond First Division South. Their modest home now has one of those concertina players tunnels to keep the fans at bay. I noticed the week before that Scarborough, another Yorkshire club, had gone under and everything was for sale including their red players tunnel, turnstiles, trophies, goal nets etc, although this looked new.

    Sheffield FC play in what I can describe as granata coloured jerseys,dark red, same as Torino and Arsenal FC in their last season at Highbury. From what I remember of their 100th anniversary match at Bramall Lane in 1957 they played in a quarter jersey. In those days they still played Yorkshire cricket at 'The Lane' and the stands were only on 3 sides of the football pitch. Now its a four sided stadium and cricket has been banished.

    More than the players on view I was delighted to see a hero of mine, Derek Dooley MBE and 78 years young, the United Vice-President. Between 1949-52 he scored 62 goals in 61 appearances for the Owls of Sheffield Wednesday, until a fateful match on 14th February 1953 when he collided with Preston North End goalie George Thompson at Deepdale. Whether it was due to lack of care, I don't know, but his leg was amputated and he never played again. He worked for Wednesday at Hillsborough and was manager until Christmas Eve in 1971 when he was fired, and finished up working for downtown rivals Sheffield United. I remember as a young schoolboy sending him a get well soon card. I can't imagine a player losing his leg these days and there would be a multi million law suit if he did.

    THE CLUB, as Sheffield FC are known, had to wait 3 years for another club to be formed, Hallam FC in North West Sheffield, who still play at the oldest football pitch in the world-SANDYGATE. For many years The Club had a nomadic existence with no regular home until Chairman Rich took over. The official programme is full of advertisers and the sponsors are many. One of the attractions is the Coach and Horses Pub next door, which The Club bought a few months ago. Its a splendid pub but small with one main bar, and at half time the side door of the stadium is opened and you walk 10 yards to the pub for a pint or a pie, and the same after full time if you don't have the last bus to catch.

    Inside are signed jerseys, old photographs and programmes, The Rules, Regulations and Laws of Sheffield FC, signed on 24th October 1857, N. Cheswick Esq., Hon.Sec. & Treasurer, and even in the mens toilet hangs a framed and signed North Korea national team jersey. It has No 1 on it. Could that be the great leader Kim Jong-Il ?   I chatted with Catherine Mueller the charming manager from Hawkes Bay,New Zealand and her boy friend Kelly Ryan from New Plymouth, who is in charge of the bar featuring Thornbridge casked ales from the brewery in Ashton-in-the-Water,where he is a brewer during the day, about their ambitious menu on a blackboard. Look at www.classiccitybrew.com/thornbridge for some photos.  Wild Swan, Brother Rabbit, Lord Marples, Jaipur, Saint Petersburg and Blackthorn are some of the classic hand pulled ales, plus a selection of wines and teas.

      Start with Bean and Bacon Soup, or Ham Hock Salad with poached egg and piccallili, and then a choice including Pigeon Pie with Pea Puree: Pot-au-Feu - Beef Shin, Brisket, Tongue, and Chicken: Barnsley Chop with Cabbage: Rabbit Stew with Cider: Steak and Thornbridge Ale pie and mash. According to Cathy that's the most popular by far and was already crossed out on the board. I mustn't forget Head Chef Mark Taylor. Oh, and make room for desert of Steamed Ginger Pudding with Custard or a Selection of English cheeses and biscuits or a great chocolate dish.   Not exactly your typical football pub food.   Inside the ground you can still get a 50p cup of tea.

   Next up for THE CLUB is a visit by PELE in a few weeks and a special dinner with guests including FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and a match on November 8th at Bramall Lane vs Inter Milan. WHY NOT SEND THE CLUB A 150TH BIRTHDAY CARD OR MESSAGE FROM YOU, YOUR CLUB, YOUR ASSOCIATION OR PUBLICATION?  chairmanrich@sheffieldfc.com  AND  pass the word along: 24th October!!

Cards To:

Sheffield Football Club, The Bright Finance Stadium, c/o Coach and Horses, Sheffield Road, Dronfield S18 2GD ENGLAND

 

 

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