Sat 9 October 2010 Sheffield FC 1 – Frickley Athletic 1 Coach & Horses Ground, Dronfield
Location: Coach & Horses Ground, Dronfield, Derbyshire, S18 2GD
Competition: FA Cup, Third Qualifying Round
Attendance: 632 (with around 100 from Frickley)
Admission: £6 (General admission)
Programme: £1.50 (40 pages / with 16 of adverts)
Refreshments: Cup of coffee + a Twix = £1.60
Directions: Located on the north edge of Dronfield, the Coach & Horses Ground is situated about 5 miles south of Sheffield on the main Sheffield-Chesterfield Road, immediately behind the Coach & Horses pub. If travelling by car, there is a club car park, though for certain games this is likely to get full. If this happens, an alternative would be to carry on towards the centre of Dronfield and walk from there.
If travelling by public transport, then Dronfield has a railway station which is around 10-15 mins walk from the ground. However, trains only run hourly, so you may find it easier to do as I did, and get a train to Sheffield, then a Chesterfield-bound number 43 bus from outside the Millennium Galleries (around 2 mins walk from the station, up the hill directly opposite the exit). This takes around 20 minutes and drops you off right outside the football ground. A day saver bus ticket (ie which can be used for the return journey as well) was three quid. Another advantage of public transport is that you can sample some of the fare on offer at the adjoining pub – literally a stone’s weak chuck from the turnstile, and with an enticing selection of real ales on offer, as well as a varied food menu and the usual softy southern drinks like lager. The club encourages the pre-match use of the pub by matchgoers, which links back with an assortment of interesting Sheffield FC historica on its walls.
Off The Pitch: The ground is the home of Sheffield FC (and Sheffield United reserves), which I guess accounts for the slightly puzzling ‘welcome to Yorkshire’ signs inside the ground – being as it is, situated actually in Derbyshire. The ground comprises a ring-fenced pitch, with a steep bank along the dugout side (currently covered by tarpaulins to prevent spectator access); a covered standing area which stretches around a third the length of the opposite side; one completely open end with room for around five rows of spectators; and a seated stand behind the goal at the other end, where the club offices and refreshment/toilet facilities are also located.
Other features of the ground include: a manually operated scoreboard; a wall of fame including details of all the official club members (such as Pele, Sepp Blater, members of Def Leppard, Tim Lovejoy… and some real people); and assorted signage proudly displaying the club’s official status as “the world’s oldest football club”. Spectator entrance to the ground is via two turnstiles, upon which you are met by a table selling programmes and a small assortment of books and badges (apparently there is also a club shop, though it wasn’t open this afternoon as the club had temporarily rented a generator and housed it in there).
Playing in red and black and situated south of the city, it’s no surprise that the club attracts a floating number of Sheffield United fans to augment those who consider Sheffield FC as their main team.
On The Pitch: Today’s match was in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, with the winners set to net 7.5k in prize money, as well as thereafter being only one further victory from the first round proper of the competition.
Both teams came into this game languishing in the bottom half of their respective leagues (with Frickley one step above Sheffield in the non-league pyramid), though Sheffield had knocked out Northwich Victoria in the last round – a team near the top of Frickley’s league – and Frickley had recently appointed a new manager following their disappointing start to the season. So, one guessed that league form would be out of the window as far as this cup tie was concerned.
This proved to be the case, with Frickley all puff and blow, and Sheffield looking the more composed of the two sides in an entertaining, but goalless, first 45 minutes.
Sheffield took the lead early in the second half thanks to a well worked move, orchestrated by Gascoigne’s deft flick out wide and executed when Outram’s right-wing cross was met by a precise header from Brian Cusworth. Though the home side’s best chance of making things safe seemed to be by going after a second goal, instead time-wasting seemed to be foremost in most of their players minds from then on in. The rotund sticksman, Paul Pettinger, (subject of predictable ‘who ate all the pies’ and ‘you fat wotsit’ chants in the first half – possibly justified as the refreshment cabin ran out of pies during the break), was the worst culprit – doing a very good impression of a slug-in-training at any dead ball situation from then on – and this in effect proved to be Sheffield’s undoing. Deep into stoppage time, and with what proved to be their last attack of the game, the Blues’ O’Rafferty charged through the defence and set up Danny Walsh, who slotted it past the Sheffield keeper. Frickley’s play hadn’t deserved an equaliser, but the home side’s time wasting had allowed them to get one. A devastated Sheffield immediately went up the other end and aimed a high ball from the left in to the back post, but it was beyond everyone, and the referee blew for full-time and a replay back at Frickley in three days’ time. One suspects it may well be the proverbial ‘different game altogether’ in the replay.