Sunday, January 28, 2007

Purple Patch


The first shock at yesterday's non-league game at Sheffield FC's ground was that they had sold out of programmes. Admittedly, I only arrived at the ground just before the kick off. But what had happened?

The problem was the size and nature of the crowd, which is recorded as 333. This is well over the normal crowd of 200 or so. Yet the away team, Long Eaton United hadn't brought many travelling supporters. There were other reasons for the famine of programmes.

First, after a spell of gales, snow and driving rain we had perfect conditions for football. The sun was shining so brightly that I had to pull down the peak of my cloth cap to keep out the glare.

Then there was the fact that due to two postponed home games, this was the first local appearence of Sheffield FC since before Xmas. So the home supporters were in need of a football feast after a spell of football starvation.

Also Sheffield are becoming an exciting team to watch and lead their league by 13 points, even though the next team (Retford Town) have four games in hand.

The Big Explanation

There is a more telling explanation for the rush of progamme sales. It was FA Cup 4th Round Day and neither Sheffield Wednesday nor Sheffield United had survived to contest games. Some of their regulars opted to cover the gap with a visit to see Sheffield FC play.

There was even a spectator over from Manchester as his beloved Man City did not play until today. A visit to the oldest club in the world has its obvious attractions. Such visitors would also grab programmes as souvernirs.

I will need to turn up earlier next time to ensure that the programmes haven't been bought out. They are on sale in the pub run by the Club, so an early visit will prove to be no hardship.

On Being Philosophical

As the match progressed a little girl sat on a barrier and held by her father, pointed out that Sheffield's Red Shirts and Long Eaton's blue ones made purple.

This purple patch is one explanation for Sheffield going two down in the first quarter of the game. Long Eaton's lead was fully deserved, as they swept forward to obtain their due reward.

Tom standing next to me, was philosophical. Having won 11 and drawn 1 of our last 12 League games, he said of the humiliation "well, it had to happen some time".

But then somehow, without impressing Sheffield struggled and got back into the game. Dolby scambled a couple of goals and the scores were soon level. The second goal, Tom pointed out came after Dolby played a one-two with the post.

Whilst Sheffield were lucky to have drawn level by the interval, it was begining to look as if Long Eaton were best when pushing forward but could not easily handle the reverse swing.

More Swing

It clouded over for the second half - especially for Long Eaton.

Gary Townsend put Sheffield ahead in the 51 Minute from a fine corner by Dolby. Indeed, Dolby was now on fire and sent in a series of shots which narrowly missed or were saved. They were all more skilled than his two scrambled first half goals.

Then David Wilkins drove home a powerful and well placed free kick from the edge of the penalty area in the 57th Minute.

Dolby even managed to contribute to a 5th goal by being substituted on 80 Minutes. His replacement Matt Roney's immediate first touch was down the right wing, when he cut in and drove the ball past the keeper. The locals thought it was a gas.

Misses and narrow squeaks throughout the second half kept the score down to 5-2 and sent the souvenir hunters and the locals home happy. The initial purple patch now blotted out.

At The End Of the Day

I returned to the pub with Tom who should be established as Sheffield FC's mascot. Since he first turned up at the ground on 9 December, he has seen all of their home and away games. That is seven wins and a draw at Mickleover, where he says we deserved to win. He has seen the team score 22 and concede only 4 - half of the latter in yesterday's purple patch.

Tom's son (with friends) turned up in the pub after the match and he gave me a lift back home. I am also indebted to Tom for pointing out that a card which I dish out with my blog details on it has a "/" missing at the end. No wonder my blog hasn't the sort of high count it so clearly deserves!

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