Is There Anybody There?
Sheffield FC's home game against Warrington Town on Saturday initially looked as if it would never start. Later it felt as if it would never end.
I had settled in my place at the ground just before the scheduled kick-off of 3 pm. A few Sheffield players were aimlessly kicking a ball around, but the strips they were wearing weren't the ones they use on match days.
Eventually, an announcement informed us that the Warrington team's bus was delayed. Around 3.10 pm we were told that it had now turned up and the match would start at 3.35 pm. Yet immediately a couple of their players rushed on the pitch to get some practice in. Perhaps they were an advance guard who had arrived by car.
Where Were You At 3 O'clock?
As matters finally got underway eight young men displaying a Sheffield FC banner were stood at the back of the small seated section whilst hammering the metal shelter with their hands. They shouted "Sheffield! Sheffield! Sheffield!" and then "Yorkshire! Yorkshire! Yorkshire!". They only dropped the later chant when it was pointed out to them that the home ground they were situated in is actually in "Derbyshire! Derbyshire! Derbyshire!".
They then took to shouting "Where Were You A 3 O'clock" at the Warrington team. This wasn't the wisest tactic as Warrington responded by almost scoring precisely at 4 O'clock.
Against The Run Of Play
Initially, Warrington seemed to be suffering from jet-lag, but then Sheffield began to look as if the long wait from the kick-off had overcome them.
It took almost 20 minutes for the game to come to life. Sheffield striker Vill Powell suddenly went into overdrive - smashing shots past the post, missing clear chances and setting up others who failed to take advantage of their opportunities. It was all goal chances and corners for Sheffield.
So the inevitable happened, Chris Moore of Warrington scored from a half-chance after 37 Minutes. His team led 1-0 at half-time.
Dug Out And Dug In
I dashed to the Coach and Horses for my half-time pint, but the delayed start must have wrong-footed the bar staff. Initially, there was only one person serving to deal with the crush at the bar.
Inevitably, I was late back for the second half. But being late was the order of the day.
Ten minutes into the second half, the referee fell to the ground. On rushed our trainer and eventually the referee was helped off the pitch. He was replaced by an Assistant Referee, but there was another hold-up as it had to be sorted out who would then substitute for the Assistant Referee for his line duties.
When someone emerged from what seemed to be the Sheffield dug-out on the far side of the pitch to undertake the task, it was decided to swap his place with the Assistant running the line on our side of the pitch which housed the Warrington dug-out. Presumably, they could keep an eye on what he was up to.
As you can imagine, this all took a considerable amount of time. But by now I had lost count.
When Will It Ever End?
The game lasted that long that the weather kept alternating between heavy rain and bright sunshine. For the last 10 minutes, the foodlights had to be switched on. I had to ring my wife on my mobile to tell her I might not be back until supper-time.
Although the game went on and on, Sheffield could not get the equaliser and the substitute referee finally blow the whistle at 5.38 pm. I think that he actually ended the match a little early. No doubt Warrington had a bus to catch.
Even so, the game ended a good 45 minutes after what would normally have been the case. It was as if we had played a third-half.
Before I caught a bus back up Wreakes Lane, there was just time to slip back into the Coach and Horses who now had a full bar staff. When I got home I discovered that my other team, Sunderland had managed what Sheffield FC didn't - a late equaliser. But then Sunderland hadn't been placed in a time warp.
Tonight Sheffield FC have a home Cup game which is scheduled for a 7.45 pm kick-off. I am in two minds whether to go. After all what if the Gresley Town's bus is late, the game might drag on way past my bed-time.
Crowd 280 - Click here for the authorised version of the Club's report.