Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Worth Putting Your Shirt On

Sheffield FC - Promotion, Promotion, Promotion.

Although I have a season ticket at Sheffield FC, until yesterday I had missed out on their last four home games due to a combination of my travels and a spell of poor health.

Yesterday, however, I made the game against Armthorpe Welfare when we clinched promotion from the Northern Counties East to Unibond First Division.

There has been a re-structuring in Non-League football and we have clinched promotion with two games remaining as we will now finish up in the top three. Normally only the champions have progressed.

The likelihood is that we will end up in one of the top two positions. Yet at one time we felt that there was little doubt that we would take the title - now it is only a possibility.

The Stumble

During the period of the games I missed, my local team had hit something of a rough patch. They had been leading the League by 8 points, although Retford Town their nearest rivals had three games in hand. But since I last saw a game Sheffield have taken only 11 points from 7 games, compared to Retford taking 16 points in the same number of games.

With the season drawing to a close, the gap was down to only 3 points and Retford still had (and have) those 3 games in hand.

Worse still, the stumble started with the first home game I missed in this spell with a 4-1 defeat by our rivals Retford.

Disarming Armthorpe

Armthorpe had a young looking team, which we felt should have been playing our Under 19s. It looked as if we were going to sweep them aside. Within a minute Gavin Smith our right back scored his 10th goal of the season with a drive from 25 yards.

And although Armthorpe equalised in the second minute, we were back ahead after 5 minutes through a Chris White goal. We then rained in shots, belting the cross bar and with many a near-miss - including a pile of defenders and attackers on one occasion inside the Armthorpe six yard box in a game of ping pong.

The only goal we added came from an Armthorpe deflection of a Chris White corner. But we settle down for a second half continuation of the fun. But it wasn't forthcoming. Armthorpe started to look like the men of experience and could have easily got back into the game. But Sheffield survived to run out 3-1 winners and finalise their promotion.

Will We Finish Top ?

Unfortunately, Retford also won 3-0. The uncomfortable gap remains. We lead by three points and they have those three games in hand (and the superior goal difference). We only have two games left, the next one being away to Retford themselves. Unfortunately, I will miss it but I should make our final game of the season at home to Selby Town.

Our hope for the title is wins against Retford and Selby, with Retford only collecting 6 points in their other 4 games. But even if things don't work out, we can always celebrate a successful promotion. And remember, we also celebrate our 150th Anniversary whilst in the Unibond.

Sunderland AFC - Top, Top, Top.

When the whistle went to end the Sheffield FC vs Armthorpe game, I dashed up the steep bank to my home to get to the start of a massive game on TV - Southampton vs Sunderland.

I had 5 minutes to switch out of my Sheffield FC supporters shirt and into a Sunderland shirt.

With a fine 2-1 victory, Sunderland bounced to the top of the Championship for the first time this season and extended their unbeaten run to 16 games, including 13 wins.

The combination of Niall Quinn's Club organisation and Roy Keane's management have completely transformed the team I have supported for 60 years. The team make-up and performances have been altered absolutely from the team who had the worst ever Premiership record last season.

So thanks to my donning the right shirts at the right time, we have Sheffield FC promoted and Sunderland currently as top dogs.


Tom said...

Brilliant. they actually passed the ball! On the ground!

All new stuff for me, first game I've been to in months.

Harry Barnes said...

el tom,

As I didn't see you in the crowd of 250 at my local ground, I assume that it was Sunderland who passed the ball along the ground - that is an unknown tacic at Sheffield FC.

The only time I have seen Sunderland play this season is at home with a 2-0 win over Barnsley. It was Yorke's day.