Saturday, August 09, 2008

China's Blades

On the day of the opening of the Olympics in Beijing, Sheffield FC were at home in a pre-season friendly against the Chinese team Chengdu Blades.

In January 2006, Sheffield United bought a controlling interest in the Chengdu team, whose name had previously been Chengdu Wuniu. They won promotion last season to the top league in China - the Super League, where they are mid-table. They have been touring the UK during a mid-season break.

In May, Chengdu was rocked by the Sichuan earthquake and the team has played a full and active role in bringing aid to the victims. Fund raising included their pre-tour game at home when they lost 7-0 to Chelsea.

The Chinese Blades were far too sharp for Sheffield FC (especially in the second half) and won 4-1. Sheffield took the lead and were holding on at 1-1 at the interval. I did my standard trick and went for a pint at half-time and missed seeing Chengdu immediately take the lead at the start of the second half. Beer and a weak bladder have now robbed me of seeing no-less than 5 pre-season goals in total!

The Chinese had a seven foot goalkeeper who was seldom troubled, whilst our five foot six keeper was in the thick of it. He saved a penalty, brought off some fine saves and saw Chengdu waste chance after chance.

It was a pleasant but cool evening. Dave is now a regular and unlike myself had seen Wednesday's game hosted by Sheffield FC when Sheffield United (including four first-team players) defeated Chengdu 3-1.

We also had a good chat to John Austin who with his mate Malcolm Ford wrote a key and serious study on an era in Dronfield, entitled "Steel Town : Dronfield and Wilson Cammell 1873-1883" (Scardale Publications, 1983). The Steel Works were uprooted and taken to Workington.

Dronfield is now the home of Sheffield FC. I hope that no-one decides to uproot them and the Coach and Horses pub.

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