Monday, October 29, 2007

Official : The Best Team In FIFA

The President's Presentation

It was fitting that on its 150th Birthday, Sepp Blatter the FIFA President should pay a glowing tribute to Sheffield FC. At a reception held by the Club on Wednesday he said -

"Today I have been welcomed in the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and now the House of Football. I am so happy to be here as a guest of Sheffield Football Club because it is the best club in our organisation. I am here as representative of 1.3 million clubs and also of more than one billion people who take part in the game to say thank you to Sheffield Football Club, the first in that family"

And It Got Better

I am full of admiration for the set of events and special games which Sheffield FC have organised for its celebrations. The biggest game is yet to come when we play Inter Milan at Bramall Lane on 8 November. 11,000 tickets have already been sold. Not bad for a Non-League Club whose League home gates average 286.

Yet as a regular and a season ticket holder, I feel that the real anniversary has just taken place for those standing on the home terraces. The first game Sheffield FC played on reaching the 150 mark was on Saturday against Cammell Laird in a key Unibond Division One South contest.

A Fitting Game

It was exactly right to be playing Cammell Laird who are celebrating their own 100th season; especially as the two teams are immediate rivals in the League.

Before the kick off, Cammell Laird were second in the League and Sheffield FC third. We were five points behind our rivals, but with a game in hand. So we had the prospect of pipping them when we reached level pegging on games.

Sheffield did its usual celebratory routine with fifty youngsters in football strips acting as a guard of honour for the teams. Then six youths led the teams whilst carrying a "Kick Racism Out Of Football" banner.

Game On

It was a tough tussle, with defences in command in the first half. Karl Colley was solid at the heart of the Sheffield defence and nearly scored a spectacular goal from a long distance free kick. Yet it initially took 15 minutes for Sheffield to threaten the visitors' goal, when they forced two corners in quick succession.

It looked as if the game had a nil-nil draw written all over it, when Stuart Copnell found himself clear in front of goal and we were 1-0 ahead. After the match he told me that it was the easiest goal he had ever scored.

As the whistle went for half-time it looked as if we were in for a hard second half grind. Before I rushed for my half time pint I was first into the Club Shop to purchase a ticket for the Inter-Milan game - plus a match day badge and the Club's Anniversary Book (with another glowing preface from Blatter).

Eyes Down For the Second Half

The second half proved to be the hard tussle we all imagined. Except that it was a much more open contest with the attacks coming into their own. It was made worse for Sheffield, however, in the 75th minute when Miles Thorpe got his second yellow card and we were down to 10 men. His two yellows really did not warrant a red card - perhaps we need an orange card option.

But we held on and are now only two points from second place with that game in hand. Better still Retford Town who are League Leaders, lost a home game. We are now 5 points from the top with two games in hand of them. So we can live in hope.

From Blatter To Blather

The terrace celebrations turned out to be the real thing. Whilst we thank Blatter for his chuck-on, there is nothing like the blather of appreciation that came from myself and fellow home spectators. Another plus was that the crowd totalled 411, well above our average League attendance. Although, I suspect it was boosted by the parents of that guard of honour.

But all these things are doubled-edged. If we beat a strong Inter-Milan side, future home games might attract so many that we might not get into the ground. Worse still we might not get into the Club's Pub at half-time. But I can stop worrying, surely we can't see off Inter-Milan - or can we?

I only have one grouse. Just imagine how much national media publicity Sheffield FC would be currently receiving if they were a London based team.

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