On Saturday as I turned into Wreakes Lane to walk down to Sheffield FC's ground, I was astonished to see a long line of cars parked on what is normally the clear right-hand side of the road. The adjoining Sainbury's car-park was also full.
Did his mean that Alsager Town supporters were out in force, although they had had to travel over from Cheshire? I might not be able occupy my usual spot at the ground.
But as I passed the 24th car, I saw the real reason. The Scouts were holding their Centenary Gala in the field which holds the Scout and Guides hut. It was packed, but Sheffield FC's ground wasn't.
The Scouts' jamboree might well have taken away potential support from the game. For the attendance of 195 was the smallest of the season so far.
Filming The Evidence
On the opposite side of the pitch from where I stood, the match was being filmed. This was done from the top of the bank where officials normally have to chase children who are playing. Except on this occasion, the children were all celebrating with the Scouts.
Along with the filming of next week's home game against Warrington Town, a DVD will be made of the match for a sale which aids a Charity. I am after a copy to see whether it confirms my grouses about the match officials.
Roll On Half Time
In the 18th Minute Ian Robinson, Sheffield FC's regular midfielder fell to the ground with a blooded injury. The referee allowed play to continue for a lengthy period before the ball went into touch, with Alsager in control and almost scoring.
Robinson was finally helped off the pitch and was immediately substituted.
For the first 35 minutes, the game was fairly even and uninspiring. Although Alsager's attacks often made it into the Sheffield penalty area, but Sheffield's attacks broke done without bothering the opposition's goalkeeper.
It was all very different from the pre-match description which Tom gave me of the last two games which I had missed and which ended in 4-0 and 4-1 victories. We had been passing the ball along the ground. But this was all route one stuff, with our efforts easily being cleared.
In the last ten minutes of the half, matters picked up and foreshadowed the shape of things to come. It all started with an interchange between Gavin Smith and Chris Dolby down the right wing, with a cross which nearly produced a goal. Sheffield FC suddenly seemed to remember what they had been up to in the last two games.
But I still rushed to the Coach and Horses at half-time to grab a pint to help me forget most of what I had just witnessed.
A Game Of Two Halves
10 minutes into the second half Vill Powell rose majestically to firmly head in a corner and put us into the lead. Now playing as I had been told we could, Vill was next through the Alsager defence and crashed the ball home from outside the penalty box.
Standing just opposite the incident, none of us could believe it when the goal was ruled out for offside. We had to wait another quarter of an hour for justice to be done with Tom Jones, the skipper rushing forward as the ball bounced about the goal area to put us further into the lead with a powered header.
Five minutes from what we thought was the end, Alsager pulled one back through Andy Parkinson. It was now insult added to injury. Alsager were given a free-kick just outside our penalty area for "something we know not what". Parkinson hit it as soon as the referee seemingly satisfied with the wall, blew his whistle. The player who blocked it then received a yellow card. The kick was retaken and the ball flew straight into the back of the net. Thanks to two doubtful bits of refereeing, Alsager were back into the game.
Instead of blowing the whistle to put us out of our new state of apprehension, the game was allowed to go on and on. I started to wonder whether we would need the floodlights. But eventually we took all three points with a 2-1 victory.
Top Of The Pops
Furthermore, we have gone to the top of the League, although we have played a game more then our nearest rivals. But at least we feel that the League we are newly promoted to holds few fears - as long as we pass the ball along the ground and don't face too many refereeing problems.
But oops! I have just seen Stuart Hammond's column in "Non-League News" entitled "Ref bashing helps no-one". So you had better forget what I said above or at least buy the DVD.
Here is the Club's version of events.