The Cutlers Hall is across the street and the tram tracks from Sheffield's Anglican Cathedral and the police had to stop both the Super Tram and the 52 bus to Hillsborough - £.2.70 for an All Day Rider, as FIFA PRESIDENT Sepp Blatter and his parade crossed the road to enter the church led by a bishop in a striking red, yellow and blue number holding his crook in one hand, his bible in the other and walking so fast that his mitre pierced through the gloom. He could have been on a catwalk at a Paris fashion show. The buses and trams are run by STAGECOACH, a huge UK transportation concern, and wasn't about the FIFA Executive robbing the poor to pay the rich-this time.
There were about 4 TV crews and a dozen journalists and photographers, and maybe 30 spectators, to make a mockery of about 25 police and security types, with lots of metal barriers that you might expect at a movie premier. Two Sheffield mountain police in dress uniform stood guard on their perfectly matching horses at the entrance as the parade, mostly in dinner jackets, filed past. Afterwards they would retreat across the tram tracks for a sumptuous dinner. Soccer legends such as Gordon Banks,a local boy from nearby Chesterfield, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Tom Finney, Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon, Dr. Massimo Moratti, President of Inter Milan, Geoff Thompson, Chairman of the Football Association and current Sheffield United manager Bryan Robson were in the parade.
Sheffield FC were celebrating their 150th Anniversary and also advertising their Boots for Africa campaign. Outside and before the service I chatted with Rev Dr Giles Francis who was going to deliver a sermon. I told him a little about the greedy goings on at Sonnenberg (Sunny Hill), the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, and he promised to lecture the assembled guests about money ruining The Beautiful Game. AMEN !!!. The Rev. is a big Chelsea fans , but when I asked if he was wearing his blue replica jersey under his black and white gown he assured that that he wasn't but thought it would have been appropriate to wear a black armband, such was his stress at The Special One walking out of Stamford Bridge.
About half a dozen arabs were watching the parade, one in a Yemeni national costume, and a couple of passing Chinese asked me what was going on. One was an engineering student at the University of Sheffield from Shanghai, and a few minutes later an older Chinaman, also from Shanghai asked me if it was the Pope passing by with the parade. I assured him that Popes don't walk that fast, and that some of the soccer chiefs might not have attended a ceremony at the Catholic Cathedral 3 blocks away, in case they had to make confessions. Blatter is supposed to be a devout catholic-most of the time! I joked that when I was a kid every piece of cutlery had Made in Sheffield stamped on it, but now they were probably made in China.
I mentioned in the last blog that it was also the 22nd birthday of Wayne Rooney, BUT I forgot that it was also the VERY FIRST birthday of Leyton Thomas Stone, son of Lindsay and Tom Stone. Tom is currently coaching the women's team at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX and now that Greg Ryan has not had his contract renewed, then Tom might be first choice to take USA to Olympic Gold. Also, 23rd October, one day earlier was the 67th birthday of Edson Arantes do Nasciemento- PELE. So Leyton, I have mentioned you in the same paragraph as THE KING. No, not you Tom.