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Bramall Lane
Bramall Lane

Pigs to the Slaughter - Part 3

By: Chris Smith
Date: 23/09/2009 (Last updated: 19/12/2009)

ESAJAS had come on at half time for the visitors and looked dangerous any time the ball was with or near him. I'm not the best reader of a game but you could tell the difference he made. He scored from distance about ten minutes later and there was now more than thirty minutes to play with a slender lead and United barely winning the ball. Whilst Wednesday fashioned plenty of chances, strangely, the last few minutes including five of injury time, were stress free with the home side again taking the game to Wednesday.

I'd first heard the away fans just after they celebrated their second goal. Brian Laws (remember him? And another reason to wish bad fortune on Wednesday) said the away fans hadn't stopped singing but neither had the home fans. They got louder as the second half progressed with the Ring of Fire tune, interspersed with S-U-F-C, a constant from the top of the Kop. That, and clap-clap-clap-clap-BLADESMEN!

I found myself reminiscing about the times we have had over 20,000 at Blundell Park and when the noise we could generate was the equal of any ground in the country. In the Everton v Town programme in 1984, Andy Gray paid us the compliment of having a ground they wouldn't want to replay at, having experienced it as a Wolves player in the 1979 League Cup campaign. It is sad that we are unlikely to emulate those achievements again, or certainly not in the near future. I have to admit to more than a tinge of envy at the noise that was generated by over 29,000 fans at this game and the fact they have a well appointed ground with a large capacity. Like we should have done when we last played at this level.

Sheer delight greeted the final whistle with nearly everyone staying behind to applaud the team off the pitch. It’s unusual to see everyone staying until the final whistle at games nowadays; after all, how many saw our winner against Hereford the other week? What a cracking game it was, full of errors mind, but hugely entertaining nonetheless. Whilst it was a game where each team dominated one half, I think the Blades deserved to edge it. But I would say that anyway.

I was pleased for Matthew. I just hope he has as many highs as I have had over the years but with less of the disappointments. Mind you, it builds character or so I'm told. A bitter and twisted one anyway. It made me realise one thing I miss from my early glory days. I would love for us to be on the radar of a big club nowadays. We used to be on Wednesday’s in the early 1980s, and frankly Lincoln and Scunny don't cut it in the same way. Time for me to get real I suppose.

Matthew has a promising future as a professional fan, looking forward as he was to winding up his schoolmates on Monday morning, who largely support Wendy (as you do in Rotherham) or Rotherscum themselves. That’s the spirit. We tried to unite a neighbour at the ground with a rather tatty programme they were unaware they'd left behind, but to no avail. I'm informed that it has been presented to a school rival, just to make a point in a gesture of sarcastic largesse.

I did enjoy seeing the carrier bags taken down a peg or two. I remember watching Brentford there in 2004/5 and the home programme or fanzine was saying that the away side would look at the ground (now decrepit) and feel as though they were playing in a cup final. How patronising was that? The Bees went on to win 2 1 with ten men after being a goal down and retorted "2 1 in YOUR cup final" in a classic put-down.

I'll say one thing about Sheffield folk, and that is they are forthright. On a packed train at the station, one Wendy bloke threw a tantrum at the excited chatter of the home fans and to be fair there were no fisticuffs but shrugged shoulders as though he was entitled to have an outburst at how p***** off he was. I made a good attempt at not laughing too much. Last year, some Burnley fans were singing about their victory at Bramall Lane and a home fan about my age just shouted "Shut the f*** up!" And they did. We still laugh at the memory; there was just something in the bloke’s voice, and it didn't invite laughter.

I doubt the home game against Darlo will offer quite the same atmosphere but I know which game I would go to given the choice and I'll happily swap the Valad for what seems to be the leper colony of the right Upper Findus, such is our usual isolation. And when I'm singing at a Town game, especially away from home, it doesn't take much to convince me that WE are the LOUDEST fans in the country no matter how loud it was last Friday.

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