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A Trip down Bramall Memory Lane - Part 3

By: Chris Smith
Date: 16/09/2009 (Last updated: 13/12/2009)

I DON’T think I’ve seen us play them since although Town and United regularly locked horns in the Championship/Division 2/League whatever it’s called nowadays. I was isolated down south and in a self imposed exile having not dared to trust myself to watch a game and not drink. Thankfully I’m back and Town haven’t looked back. At the Championship that is. It’s all my fault as the song goes. Ever since I moved back up North we have got worse.

I spent 2004 to 2005 working in Sheffield and was thus regularly exposed to both Blades and Owls fans or the Pigs and Pigs as they refer to each other. I can say that I have got along really well with both sets of fans and I regularly laugh my head off at the correspondence in the Green ‘Un where the rivals co me out with all sorts of complex mathematical models about who is the biggest team. I tell you, they’d give Stephen Hawkings a run for his money. You know the sort of thing; that bloke won a few quid on the lottery so he went twice which artificially inflated the gate and then that special offer on Mars Bars must have skewed the figure by 20 and we shouldn’t include H*ll’s away support at Hillsborough as that was a one-off. I thought we were sad going on about the Scunts’ attendances!

As I live on the line into Sheffield, I can get to midweek games and be back in Thorne by eleven. SUFC often do cheap deals for Category C games such as Ipswich at home in a few weeks for just a tenner. In 2007, they helped the oldest club in the world, Sheffield FC, celebrate their 150th anniversary and did that club proud by hosting a celebration game against Inter Milan which attracted nearly 19,000 fans to Bramall Lane at a fiver apiece and a few Grimsby fans were there. A second string, but strong Inter side, won 5 2 after Sheffield had pulled two goals back from 4 0 down and nearly adding a third before a last minute goal from the away side settled matters. The MC there is excellent and there were Mexican waves going around the ground and hearty renditions of The Greasy Chip Butty Song which I still think is ours, but I’ll let them off for the purpose of this article.

The Blades are commercially astute and even got Pele over to make the presentations whilst taking the opportunity to make close ties with Brazilian football. A good night in all and there was also a game between Sheffield FC and Ajax later in the season. I said commercially astute a few seconds ago. Whilst I recognise that West Ham’s behaviour in the Tevez affair was reprehensible, the Blades have done well to get all that compensation from the Hammers. As an interested outsider, I would have to say throwing away a ten point lead over the third bottom team, thrashing West Ham 3 0 and still going down by contriving to lose to Wigan on the last day of the season demonstrates the old adage that for every finger you point at someone else, there are four pointing back at you. Chuffing Nora, that’s philosophical! I actually had wanted the Blades to stay up so I could have easy access to some top flight games.

I saw the Blades play at home to Arsenal in the Carling Cup a few seasons back before Robson got the sack and loved the wag who shouted at Eduardo, who’d scored a belter, "What’s it like knowing you’ll never make a footballer?" and commenting that the bloke who ran out of the Kop to throw his scarf at the beleaguered manager had covered more ground than the team. I’ve tried to sit in the Valad Stand ever since on the off-chance of hearing that banter again. I had also liked the way that the MC commented on the sizeable away turnout for a midweek game. SUFC also hosted a game between England U21s and the Czech Republic and once again, the organisation was first class. The programme also represents good value.

Last season, I saw the Carling Cup win over Port Vale and the home defeat to a Martin Paterson inspired Burnley, who it has to be said, had the measure of United over the three games they played against each other. I took a friend’s lad, Matthew, to that game and the 2 1 win over the Dingles from Barnsley who incidentally speak with such a rough accent that they consider Sheffield folk to be "di- dahs" as they supposedly speak la-di-dah. When I was in Malta a few years ago, a Barnsley couple thought I was from Sheffield as I was supposed to have spoken "posh". Barnsley, the home of DIT shops (do it thisen)

One last word about SUFC’s PR. I enrolled Matthew as a Teen Blade for the Burnley game and got the free match ticket it entitled him to at the same time. This season, I have been able to do a similar thing for discounted tickets, including one for the derby. When I booked our tickets for the derby game, they treated me as a club member as I had bought tickets there before, when I was expecting to have to pay a fee. I can’t fault the way they operate. And I have to mention the girl who works in the ticket office who confessed she was a Wednesday fan. When I queried why she worked there, she said there were no jobs going as a roadsweeper.

I like to see United win when I go there. They can get a good atmosphere going and the ground is just how I like them. It is obviously all-seater and has a good capacity but manages to retain some of the old colour. The concourses can get quite crowded although you don’t risk kidney failure waiting for a p*** as you can sometimes at Town. There is enough legroom, but only just. It is of course, surrounded by terraced housing and is within easy reach of the main railway station as all good old fashioned grounds should be. I’ve actually spent a few bob in the superstore as they have a good range of books to interest any football fan. Whilst Bramall Lane has retained much of its former charm, Hillsborough strikes me as a ground that has been run down. Not that Blundell Park is anything to shout about, (far from it) but I found it disappointing.

That’s me for now. I just need to get out the "Keep Sheffield Tidy" badge out which is in the style of the national anti litter campaign, but features a matchstick man in red and white dumping the Owls’ crest in a bin with a "Down Pigs Down" logo at the bottom.

Class! Now do I wear my Town shirt and sit between both sets of fans whilst shouting "Who wants it?" for a laugh. Perhaps not. No, I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy and hope that the home side win.

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