I was at Bramall Lane last night, a short walk from Sheffield Station, as England's u21s took on Ukraine at the world's oldest football stadium. Built in 1855 for cricket and later for football for Sheffield United' The Blades', Sheffield Wednesday 'The Owls' and the World's Firs tFootball Club, Sheffield FC 'CLUB'. .
On Bramall Lane is The Cricketers Arms a pub opened in 1857 to cater for cricket fans. I sat in the main, South Stand, which was built in 1975 on the outfield of the cricket pitch used by Yorkshire CCC when the stadium was three sided. I remember it well. Apart from The Oval in South London The Lane is the only English stadium to host cricket matches, including an Australian Test match, football matches, an FA Cup Final,the 1912 replay Barnsley 1 v WBA 0 and the worlds first floodlit match. 68,287 fans packed it for a 5th round FA Cup match v Leeds United in 1936. Today it is all seater capacity 32,702.
22.000 were present last night and what an entertaining match it was, with lots of young fans and school groups in attendance. I can't complain for a £5.00 ticket on the half way line. For the Three Lions it was a tale of two Dominics. Former Blade Dominic Calvert-Lewis, now with Everton, opened the scoring at The Kop End for Aidy Boothroyd's team in the 41st minute. A talented Ukrainian side scored what seemed to be a late equalizer in the 83rd minute through Mykela Shaparencko, much to the delight of about 30 of their supporters. However in the 88th minute and other Dominic - Solanke rose to head in the winner from a Ben Chilwell cross. Attendance 22,500.
After 6 matches England lead group 4 in the UEFA Championships by 5 points, ahead of Holland, Ukraine, Scotland, Latvia and Andorra. The finals are in Italy and San Marino in the summer of 2019. In fact THREE England teams were in action on Tuesday. England u20s,reigning World Champions beat Portugal -3-0 at Academy Stadium, Manchester at the same early kick-off time, while the World Cup bound first team were held 1-1 by Italy in front of 82,000 at Wembley later on.
It looked like a second win in 4 days for England after a 1-0 victory at the Johann Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Friday. A superb goal from Jamie Vardy seemed to give manager Gareth Souhtgate another win until we had the late penalty when newcomer James Tarkowski of Burnley, winning his first cap tripped Federico Chiesa . After originally giving a corner German-Turkish referee Deniz Aytekin then decided to consult VAR at the half way line, change his mind and award a penalty. Insigne placed an unstoppable shot past Jack Butland to share the spoils.
There were THREE internationl friendlies in the London area on the night. I what is another 'home ' ground for The Socceroos,Craven Cottage, Australia beat Colombia 3-0, while at The Hive in Barnet Serbia downed Nigeria 2-0. Tarkowski earned former club Brentford £500,000 for playing for England as part of his transfer deal and if he plays in a competitive match another £500,000 will depart Turf Moor. Lewis Cook, Bournemouth's first ever England international earned his granddad £17,000.00 from a £500 bet that his grandson would play for England one day.
Over 100 so called England fans were arrested in Amsterdam last Friday before and after the match. A very sad bunch drinking too much and challenging police in the Red Light District, booing the Dutch national anthem and chanting anti IRA songs, Surely the FA have them all on tape from the Dutch FA and the local police to ban them for life. Heavy truncheon raps on the shoulders, arms, legs and stomach should be the order of the day. How many will show off The English Disease in Russia this June?.
Some interesting other results among many. Brazil took a little revenge after their 7-1 semi final humiliation in 2014 by Germany by winning 1-0 in Berlin . One of the favourites for the cup Belgium beat Saudi Arabia 4-0 in Brussels, Switzerland stunned Panama 6-0 in Lucerne and Spain demolished Argentima 6-1 in the new Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. Messi sat out the second friendly in 4 days. France beat Russia 3-1 at the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg. Romania beat Sweden 1-0 and Poland beat South Korea 3-2 in Chorzow..