Sheffield FC, Yorkshire through and through and the world's oldest football club,founded on October 24th, 1857, now play in the Bright Finance Stadium south of the steel city and over the border in Derbyshire on the edge of the pretty village of Dronfield. After the final, their exuberant chairman, Richard Tims had a grin on his face like a Cheshire Cat.
Not only had CLUB won 3-1 against visiting Stamford FC from Lincolnshire, but there was a larger than usual crowd to enjoy the victory, the kiosk had sold out of those excellent Pukka Pies and the sun was shining, while afterwards the Coach and Horses was choc a block full of rival fans, both inside and outside in the beer garden. The world's oldest club actually owns the pub which is built into one side of the ground, with just a wooden door in the fence between them.
Before the game in The Northern Premier League, Division 1 South, I enjoyed lunch, a superb rack of lamb with delfinium potatoes and string beans and a crisp salad, followed by a plum and apple crumble with hot custard, all washed down by a bottle of Timmerman's Belgian raspberry fruit beer. It was served by the host, Kathryn from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. They have an excellent cellar with an unusually large range of beers, wines and teas. Her husband Kelly helps run the small Thornbridge Brewery from where many of the choice ales are available at the bar on draft. On match days The Coach and Horses is a football pub, but the rest of the week it is an upmarket pub/restaurant with a distinguished menu.
There was just time to pop next door to hear the starting line-ups and the chanting from 'The Noisy Boys', the young fans behind the goal at the club house end. At the other, the Sheffield Road End is The Wall of Steel. As you may know Sheffield built its fame and fortune on steel and the length of the wall extends the whole width of the pitch and is real stainless steel with the sponsors names including Elg Haniel Metals('The future is stainless steel') the world leader with business in 40 countries and a turnover of over 29 billion Euros. To the right side of the pitch is the historic millstone grit pub which will soon have an additional supporters lounge with a view of the action. Millstone grit is a coarser version of sandstone. On that side is also the members wall, with all the Sheffield FC members names from all over the world. www.sheffieldfc.com is where you can read all about CLUB, its history and future and become a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. Only TWO clubs have receieved the distinguished FIFA ORDER OF MERIT, the other being Real Madrid.
Across Sheffield is the SECOND oldest club in the world, Hallam FC founded in 1858 and the two have been competing annually ever since for the 'Sheffield or Rules Derby', the oldest rivally in football. They have played at Sandygate for 150 years which is officially the oldest football ground in the world. When I visited a couple of years ago there were some very prestigious homes. Chairman Richard Tims explained that the area was founded by steel barons who built their homes upwind of the smoky steel mills in the Don Valley of Sheffield, receiving the fresh breezes from the Derbyshire Peak District and is the second wealthiest suburb in England. Sheffield is also noted as having the most trees per area of any city in Europe.