"Club 1857" is the Sheffield FC Supporters' Club. Its name arises from the facts that (a) Sheffield FC is known as "The Club" and (b) it was founded in 1857 and is recognised as being the oldest football club in the world.
Yesterday "Club 1857" held a Presentation Evening in a packed room at the White Swan in Dronfield. Before presentations were made to those whom the members had voted for as players of the season, we had a fine question and answer session with Dave McCarthy and Lee Walshaw.
Dave was a highly successful Manager of Sheffield FC for 10 years, whose final game in charge was a great end to his career. I reported on the match here. Over the recent season Dave has been the team's Operations Director and a Committee Member. Lee was Assistant Manger for 7 years and is now the Community Development Manager. Sheffield FC have a proud record of community involvement.
The question and answers were frank, entertaining and great fun.
Chris Dolby, the Sheffield FC Manager then made the presentations to the successful players. Mat Outram was third choice, Steve Wooley was second choice and Paul Smith was the winner. They have all had a fine season and were also my top choices.
I am, however, completely biased in favour of Paul Smith (Smudge) - see photo. We both lived at one time in the same street of miners' houses at Easington Colliery in County Durham. Both of our father's being local miners. I am nearly 40 years older than Smudge and I had moved on before he was brought up in Baldwin Street at Easington. But he lived just a few houses away from my parents, whom I visited regularly.The pit at Easington was closed in 1993 and many of the former miners' houses have been knocked down. Smudge's former home has gone, but for the moment my former home still stands. When I observed this on a recent visit to Easington, I was keen to tell Smudge my findings. But he knew all about this as he had visited Easington even more recently then I had. His parents now live elsewhere in what is still known as a Colliery.(The photo above is of my late father, myself and next door's dog in the yard in Baldwin Street.)
Yet it isn't just bias that made me vote for Smudge. Every Sheffield FC supporter knows about his abilities. When it comes to taking free kicks, we all know that it isn't so much that he can "Bend them like Beckham", but more that "Beckham can almost bend them like Smudge".
Sheffield FC finished in a mid-table position. On the surface this seems to be a disappointment as they just missed out on promotion the previous season - see here. But Sheffield FC had been a team which pulled in a great deal of sponsorship. When the credit crunch hit much of this financial backing went. Players were transferred and replaced, with some being drawn on from the youth and reserve teams. At first the Club suffered a dip, but then it developed. We have high hopes for the future, especially as it is our League rivals who will now be the ones to trim their sails and try to follow our pattern.
Note : By clicking into the "Sheffield FC" label at the close of this thread you will see that I used to provide regular reports of their games and activities. These started with a report of a 2-1 victory over Mickleover Sports in August 2006. They ended with a game against Lincoln City last November which was abandoned due to fog at half time when we were leading 1-0. I posted 55 such items in that period.
There are two main reason why I have dropped such reporting. First of all, Sheffield FC's activities are catered for admirably by (a) the Club's official web-site here, and (b) a supporters' group web-site here. Secondly, I needed to find some space to pursue other matters. I am trying to write a political biography which involves research and is time-consuming. (In fact, I have a day booked at the Durham Records Office to research matters about Smudge's Easington Colliery). Then fellow Sheffield FC supporter Martin Brader has set up a blog for a Labour Party Discussion Group which operates in Dronfield. As I am responsible for organising these meetings, I need to make regular contributions to his blog which is called "Dronfield Blather".
So my bits and pieces on Sheffield FC are likely to be restricted for some time.