Today is a very special birthday. 153 years ago SHEFFIELD F.C. the world's first football club was born in a potting (garden) shed in Sheffield. www.sheffieldfc.com.
I have written many times in the last few years about this remarkeable club, but just to remind you that INNOVATION has been very important. Fans at The Oval in London laughed when the club played there against a London team in 1875 and they saw the ball headed for the very first time. 'CLUB' which is their nickname, also introduced corner kicks, a solid cross bar, free-kicks and throw ins. In 2004 Sheffield F.C. were awarded the prestigious FIFA Order of Merit. To this day ony 2 clubs have this award, the other being Real Madrid.
Yesterday, Saturday, which was also PELE's 70th birthday, saw 'CLUB' in the 4th qualifying round of the F.A. Cup for the very first time. The next round is the First Round Proper, when Football League teams are entered, with the chance of a bumper gat against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, Chesterfield or Rotherham United, all within 10 miles.
They won the F.A. Amateur Cup in 1904 but on Saturday they hosted Tipton Town F.C. a league below them at the Coach & Horses ground, and a larger than usual festive crowd was in attendance. I caught the No 43 STAGECOACH bus from Sheffield city centre, past United's Bramall Lane stadium, along with many first time fans judging by the conversations.
There were long lines to buy the official programme, pukka pies, sausage baps, beef burgers, team and hot chocolate. SFC give good value at the gate, with prices of £6.00 for adults and only $3.00 for children and pensioners. I wrapped up warm in the heavy padded coat that I had purchased for The High Veldt and the last time I wore it was at Soccer City in South Africa in early July.
Only five minutes played and the visitors were ahead. goalie Dan Whatsize failed to hold a shot and Cameron Jones pounced to open the scoring. It was a pretty exciting half and CLUB went into the break 2-1 ahead thanks to goals from Andy Gascoigne after 21 minutes and in the 38th minute from Brian Cusworth.
What a disappointment the second half turned out to be. Very little skill and more like an airiel ballet, but more bulls**t than Bolshoi ! The slippery pitch didn't help but dribbling and neat passing were avoided for the high ball and a prayer.
CLUB have battled through the three previous rounds, advancing against higher ranked clubs in replays, and will have beat Tipton FC away on Wednesday in a replay after the visiters deservedly equalized near the end from Danny Campbell.
The draw for the First Round of the F.A. Cup has just been made at Wembley Stadium, and either Sheffield F.C. or Tipton Town have been drawn away at Carlisle United up near the Scottish border in Cumbria.