Match Details: Hallam FC 1 – Sheffield FC 2 (150th Anniversary Match)
Destination: Sandygate Road, Crosspool, Sheffield, S10 5SE.
Competition: Friendly (though the winners got a nice big trophy!)
Kick Off: 3pm
Admission: £10 (general standing)
Programme: £1 (special ‘antique-style’ commemorative issue)
Directions: Sandygate Road is situated in the Crosspool district of Sheffield, around two miles west of the city centre. It’s quite easy to reach by car – being just off the A57 – and by public transport there is a fequent bus service. The number 51 bus runs every 10 minutes or so during the day, takes around quarter of an hour, and will drop you directly outside the entrance to the ground (opposite The Plough Inn). Like many buses in Sheffield, it goes through the city centre but not into the bus station itself. The closest stop to the railway station is outside the Millemmium Galleries on Arundel Gate – one thing to bear in mind is that the bus goes across the city centre after you get on, so you want the side of the road for a bus going into, rather than away from, the centre (and with Lodge Moor as its destination).
Off The Pitch: With the ‘regular’ season now over in all the main non-leagues, I rounded off my own travels by heading down south to take in the oldest Derby match in club football…… EVER!
The tradition began on Boxing Day in 1860, when Hallam FC played host to neighbours Sheffield FC at the very same ground of Sandygate Road, and the visitors ran out winners by two goals to nil. The 150th Anniversary was initially scheduled for Boxing Day 2010, but the Great British Snowy Weather put paid to any chance of that happening. So instead, the game was rearranged for today – precicesly 150 years and 127 days on from that first ever interclub football match.
I arrived to find a good couple of hundred people already in attendance, with most defining the ‘chillax’ and enjoying the bank holiday weekend. It was certainly a gorgeous day and nothing compared to what it would have been like had the game gone ahead in December, with some opting to sit outside the Plough Inn across the road; others having a look round the Hallam FC ground, or visting the impressive clubhouse with its unrivalled array of starry memorabilia; and the rest just idling the time away on the pitchside grassy knolls. Inside the house of Hallam, Pele’s shirt nestled on the wall next to some chap called Maradona’s. Meanwhile, across the room sat proudly displayed certificates from the Guinness Book Of Records confiming Hallam’s official status as World’s-Second-Oldest-Club and owners of the World’s-Oldest-Ground. Fresh from my visit to the pub I visited the Gents, and can confirm that there’s some very old brickwork in there too which may need adjudicating soon.
On The Pitch: Sadly, the promised ‘period kit’ which the two teams were originally advertised as to have been wearing failed to materialise. As I retreived the first stray match ball, I was also disappointed to discover that they weren’t playing with a traditional pig’s bladder or even an old style leather casey either. This is indeed the modern world, though at least the shorts worn by both teams were pretty big.
The game itself I guessed would go one of two ways: Being end of season and to all intents and purposes a friendly, we would either get a damp squib thanks to tired bodies and an exhausted pitch, or else a free-flowing and exiting contest with two teams determined to end their season on a high. What we actually got was both of these, in the proverbial ‘game of two halves’. The first 45 was bereft of anything memorable, and I can’t even remember either side having a worthwhile shot on target. Thankfully though, things did liven up nicely after half-time. Hallam it seemed had decided to take the pig by the ears, and play like the next 45 minutes were the start of their future rather than the dying embers of an otherwise disappointing season. Their creative play and increased energy eventually paid off – Craig Getliff blasting in a fine volley from dead centre on the edge of the box, which flew past the opposing keeper. This in turn woke Sheffield up, and from here on we got a real end-to-end game, with both sides going all out for victory. To their credit, Hallam went for a second goal to kill things off, rather than try to hold on to their one-goal-lead. Delano Stewart-Jones knocked the ball past Sheffield keeper Brad Mimms when one-on-one, but saw the ball go agonisingly out of play before he could reach it and tap it goalwards. Almost instantly, Sheffield were back on the attack themselves. Right-back Jack Smith sped forward and hit a neat cross-shot past Adam Valente for the equaliser. And ultimately it was the team from the higher level that triumphed. First, Club’s Tom Roebuck had a goal disallowed for offside. Then, with a minute to go, Sheffield again broke down the right, and found themselves with a man over at the far post. This was Charlie Tunnard, who made no mistake when played in by Harrison, having time to sidefoot his shot into the net. It was too late for Hallam to come back. They had one last effort from the ever-impressive Getliff, but it was to no avail as Mimms turned his shot over the bar and the final whistle blew soon after. Sheffield Club president Alan Methley, and former Football League referee/Hallam president Uriah Rennie jointly presented the Alan Cooper Memorial Trophyto the victorious team. Although it may have been the same outcome as that first match 150 years ago, Hallam can take consolation in improving on the original scoreline of 2-0, and in reality, coming much, much closer to victory today.