Conditions were ideal for Sheffield FC's final game of the season today on their home ground. In front of a good crowd by Northern Counties Eastern League standards, they celebrated their promotion to the 1st Division of the Unibond League.
The festive occasion was added to by the fact that the Club's Under-19s, Women's Team and its two disability teams have all had successful seasons. Whilst its links with a network of youngsters teams via FC Dronfield had also gone well.
On top of which its "Boots for Africa" campaign has shown more about its fine approach to the game.
The Light Blues
The opposition playing in an all light blue strip where Selby Town who have an outside chance of taking third position in the League and also gaining promotion thanks to a restructuring of the Unibond.
Sheffield were also smartly turned out, giving a pre-view of next season's new strip designed for their 150th Anniversary as the oldest team in the world.
Despite having the early edge in the game, Sheffield went one down in the 22nd Minute when Stephen Davey struck his first goal. He was to prove a handful for the full 90 Minutes.
Yet it only took 3 minutes for Sheffield to equalise with a goal from Pete Davey, following a fine move down the left-wing by Darren Holmes.
So with the half-time score at 1-1, I shot off as fast as my walking stick would allow me to the Coach and Horses pub which is owned by the Club.
In the pub I finished up in conversion with Tom who has not missed a home or away game since he first came to see Sheffield FC play almost half-way through the season. As a consequence, I was late back into the ground and missed a goal from Vill Powell which put Sheffield 2-1 up. A Steward told me that it was a fine effort.
The final result was determined in a three minute spell from the 75th minute. First, Vill Powell burst through the Selby defence but then ballooned the ball over the bar, when scoring seemed easier. Obviously, not the fine effort which I had earlier missed. Then, Selby's Stephen Davey pounced for his second goal. Finally, Sheffield played ping-pong from close range at the Selby goal, but without success.
So we ended with a 2-2 draw, yet surprisingly went back to the top of the League over Retford Town who lost their second League Game within 5 days.
Who Will Win The League And Why?
Whilst Sheffield FC have finished their season, Retford still have two games remaining. As they have a superior goal difference, a single draw will be enough for them to take the title.
In his programme notes (written before today's slip up by Retford) Sheffield FC's Manager suggests that their likely success is due to their higher budget. Although I have seen neither Retford's nor Sheffield's accounts, I found this to be a big surprise.
Sheffield have a number of different sponsors for their stadium, their strip and with provisions for mascots. Some fifty advertising boards are displayed in total around and outside the ground. They have also just completed the purchase of the ground and its neighbouring Coach and Horses pub.
Perhaps Sheffield's expenditure has placed it into debt, or maybe Retford have a benefactor I don't know about.
However, a lack of finance could well explain the plight of bottom of the League Brodworth Welfare, who took only 10 points out of 38 games and ended up with a goal difference of minus 103. For they can't be taking much revenue at the gate, as at two recent home games the crowds were 15 and 18. Such small attendances could, of course, be an effect of their plight rather than the cause of it.
The Future's Bright
Sheffield FC play at the "Bright Finance Stadium", known to us as "The Stadium of Bright". Given promotion and all sorts of goodies for the Club's 150th Anniversary, the future also seems to be bright.
The Team is off to play in the Hong Kong Soccer 7's. Then to play the oldest team in Africa. Pre-season friendlies are lined up with teams from Blackburn Rovers, Hartlepool (my father was on their books for a period), Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United. Then Celebration matches are likely against teams from Real Madrid and AC Milan. I only hope we can find some time for the Unibond.