Joining The Top Team
Pele has just become a member of Sheffield Football Club; signing up alongside other famous names such as Gordon Banks, Uriah Rennie, Sepp Blatter, Michael Vaughan, Def Leppard, Bobby Robson, Bobby Charlton, Derek Dooley, Richard Caborn, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Kenny Dalglish, Bob Piper and myself.
Our new signing was paraded in front of a crowd of 18,471 at Bramall Lane last night when we met Inter Milan in a match to celebrate our 150th birthday as the Club who kicked off football.
The crowd was in fine festival mood and was slightly larger than normal. Up 18,273 on those at Saturday's home game.
Yet the kick-off was held up 24 minutes to allow everyone to get in and to ensure that everyone then experienced the pre-match hype. We had the well trusted techniques of balloons, announcements, music and some 50 youngsters in Sheffield and Inter-Milan strips placed around the centre circle.
Then we had the unique bit - our new signing Pele surrounded by cameramen and other important people. He broke loose and ran round the centre circle vigorously waiving at everyone. We loved it.
Pele was then presented to the teams, the youngsters and the big-wigs. For the first time I suddenly thought we might win, for he was presented to 21 players from our side and there were only 13 from Inter-Milan. Unfortunately, officialdom ensured that we kicked off with the usual 11 a side. It must have been in those rules which Sheffield FC drew up in 1857.
Watch Out - Its Inter-Milan
Whilst Sheffield FC enjoyed the early play and shots (with one even on target), Inter-Milan established their superiority with a 3-0 half time lead adding a fourth shortly after half-time. With official encouragement, we took our minds off the rout with rounds of Mexican waves. At first they seemed to be unending, then like Sheffield FC's chances they petered out.
But suddenly, the game was transformed as the Sheffield FC manager played his great substitution trick. Whilst he started out with his top defence, he held back some of his best mid-fielders and strikers. Then as Inter-Milan started to substitute some of their best players, he improved the make-up of his own team on the field.
The plan immediately worked. Sheffield FC pulled two goals back, through two new arrivals, Stuart Copnell and Rob Ward. The third new face in Chris Dolby sent over the fine free kick from which Rob headed the ball into the net. Then Stuart all but delivered a third with a lob that was only cleared off the goal-line itself.
Eventually, Inter-Milan finished up 5-2 winners. But we had our spell of glory.
The Winners - Sheffield FC And Football
Few left the ground, apart from the family next to me when the father said "I have really enjoyed this" when they up and left. It also looked as if all 21 Sheffield players were given a spell on the pitch, as the whole of the first-line defence (including the goalkeeper) were eventually replaced. The great substitution trick had given way to a policy of giving everyone their five minutes of glory against the mighty Inter-Milan.
The best of all for me, was coming across regulars and hearing them shouting. The young men with the large Sheffield FC banner were chanting in the background and the distinctive call of "Howaye Sheffield" came from a well-recognised voice.
Our next home game is against Lincoln United in the 3rd Round of the Unibond League Cup. I wonder where we are going to put all our new supporters? For even if most of them were Sheffield United supporters in disguise, it is an evening match and their first love has no fixture that night.