I left the house only 15 minutes before the kick-off for the game between Sheffield FC (founded 1857) and Nantwich Town (founded 1884). With the help of my walking stick, I dashed down Wreakes Lane and was in my place at the ground for the kick off.
In fact even before a ball was kicked, I did a quick head count and decided there was a crowd of 240 - which turned out to be its official attendance. This was 157 less than last Saturday. But it was a fine day this time and a bank-holiday week-end. Even some of the regulars must have had other family commitments.
Perhaps it was the last minute nature of my arriving at the ground, but the first half flew past. The early play was fairly even, but Sheffield first escaped a mass scramble in their six-yard box and then all seemed lost when a Nantwich player who was well offside rushed for goal. Somehow Gavin Smith our right full-back made it to the goal line to clear the shot.
Losing The Plot
The game was now swinging Nantwich's way. There was none of the usual dashes forward by Gavin to threaten the visitors goal. Instead he was in defensive mode confronted with man-of-the-match Danny Griggs on the left wing. Gavin even upended his opponent in the second half in an effort to keep him quite. But the tactic failed and only earned a yellow card.
After 39 minutes, Nantwich took a deserved lead through Pavol Suhaj signed from Crewe in May. But then suddenly Sheffield seemed to be back in the game with a penalty. But Vill Powell blasted his shot high into the trees in the field behind the goal.
Inevitably it was Danny Griggs who added the second for Nantwich just before the half time whistle.Well he was called up for the England futsal squad for the trip to Poland last October.
Drowning One's Sorrows
It was now time for a half-time pint at the club's Coach and Horses Pub. But even that was spoilt by gleeful Nantwich fans speculating about moving on to a 5-0 victory.
It must have been with such thoughts in mind that I found the second half of the match to be lengthy and tedious. But Sheffield FC stemmed the tide somewhat thanks to two fine saves from Jamie Holmshow in our goal. But when the referee should have played the advantage rule for Nantwich towards the end of the game, he gave them a free kick and they still went on to put the ball in the net through Glyn Blackhurst. So we lost 3-0.
Luckily the boisterous Nantwhich fans made straight for home after the match and weren't in the Coach and Horses afterwards. We could watch the results coming in on the TV in peace, after seeing St Helens celebrate their Rugby League Trophy Victory at Wembley. I saw last year's final at Twickenham, which St Helen's also won in a great carnival atmosphere. Memories. Memories.
The result had been a big disappointment as Sheffield FC had won their first two League games, whilst Nantwich had lost both of theirs'. Both teams are newly promoted to the Unibond and emerged from parallel leagues, with similar records. There seemed to be no reason why they should have the edge.
But our Manager's programme notes had contained a warning when he wrote "Nantwich are tipped by many who like to think they know their football." They also won the FA Vase in 2006 and have just opened a new £4 million football stadium. They obviously have hidden depths and pockets.
The reason I had been in such a late rush to get to the kick off was that as a lifelong Sunderland fan, I had been watching their match against Liverpool on Sky. We went down 2-0 and I had been looking to the Sheffield FC match to lift my gloom.
But in the end I had to suffer the Nantwich fans dream of a 5-0 drubbing - expect it came in two parts. A 2-0 defeat, followed by 3-0.
But there is always a bit of fun at Sheffield FC's ground. One of the regulars, with a voice that carries kept shouting out "Howay Sheffield" from his mid-field position. It immediately triggered the same shout from someone behind the goal. In the second half to our amusement, the echo come from the other end of the ground. It clearly belonged to a supporter who likes to see a close up as Sheffield's goals go into the net. It was a pity he had had a barren day.
Towards the end, we thought the echo had gone home as once their was silence. But he was back in full voice next time. There is always a next time, so "Howay Sheffield".