Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Come On Ref: I Need Me Dinner!"

Boxing Day = Football Day

At long last I made it to Sheffield FC to see a game. Postponements, a trip to London and a heavy cold had kept me away from the ground for nearly six weeks.

It was a noon kick off with the anticipated "higher than average crowd" for the festive season. Our daughter, Joanne is staying with us over the Xmas period. Not only did she have the good sense to see I needed a scanner from Santa to enliven my blog, but she kept me company at the game.

First Things First

First of all, we made it to the Club's pub at the Coach and Horses. It was packed, so we had to take our pre-match drinks outside. Luckily the weather was just right for the occasion. I noticed that we had some Sheffield United supporters with us. No doubt, they would be rushing off for another pre-match pint at Bramall Lane before their 3 p.m. kick -off.

Joanne and I made it into the ground just as the teams were running onto the pitch. Just time to introduce her to Tom, who had met her brother Stephen at a match about a year ago.

5 Goals In 25 Minutes

The first half was crazy. Gavin Smith our right-back put us ahead after only 3 minutes. I missed seeing it as I was looking around the ground to estimate the size of the crowd, which seemed to be between 400 and 500 and officially turned out to be 461.

After 10 Minutes, Jamie Vardy equalised for the visitors, Stocksbridge Park Steels. Somehow our goalkeeper (Martin Kearney) ended up almost flat on his back outside his six yard box as the ball was slipped into the net. It was the shape of things to come.

Next, Stocksbridge took the lead. Alvin Riley their number 11 got hold of the ball well into his own half, rushed down the left wing before cutting in to smash the ball into the net. It was all very impressive until we realised that no one had attempted to tackle him and our goalkeeper hadn't moved as the ball went past him.

It was back to 2-2 after 21 Minutes thanks to a fine free-kick from our man-of-the-match and left-back, Paul Smith.

Yet our normally excellent goalkeeper was still showing signs of a Xmas hangover when he fumbled a cross and was only saved by the post. But after 25 minutes we were 3-2 ahead. Vill Powell our striker started and finished a fine move. It was nice to have a goal from someone other than a full-back.

Then just as I was looking at my watch to see whether it was time to rush for the bar to beat the half-time crush, the goalkeeper's curse struck in the 40th Minute. Alvin Riley delivered a gem of a free-kick which lobbed our goalkeeper. But then I realised that Martin Kearney hadn't even lifted his hands above his head or he would have caught the ball.

Half-Time Magic

In the pub at half-time Joanne sensibly stuck to lager, whilst I went for another St. Petersburg which is a beer with a post-Leninist punch. I only hoped that Martin Kearney was onto something more medicinal.

We got into conversation with someone who had played for Newcastle University in the 1970s. He then checked with Joanne as to whether I was Harry Barnes or my predessor as MP, the late Ray Ellis. The way things were going, I wasn't quite sure of the correct answer.

Normal Service Is Resumed

Martin Kearney was back to his normal assured self in the second half and Stocksbridge were unable to add to their score.

It seemed to be heading for a 3-3 draw, then in the 80th Minute Stocksbridge had their captain sent off. A minute later we looked to have won the game, but Vill Powell's shot hit a Stockbridge player who was lying flat out on the goal line and the ball then went out for a corner.

But when the corner was eventually taken, Asa Ingall scored to put us 4-3 ahead.

All the Sheffield supporters wanted as time went on was the full-time whistle. "Come on Ref: I need me dinner!" was the clincher and the referee obligingly realised what day it was and blew for a famous victory.

But before Joanne and I rushed off for our dinners, I persuaded her to pop back to the Coach and Horses for a quick half. After all that nervous tension, I needed to relax before tackling the walk back home up Wreakes Lane.

Life is much simpler for Premiership fans.


Alec said...

A footballish story.

Deeply sad.

Harry Barnes said...

Alec: A reason why Phil O'Donell's death is so poignant for football fans is seen in this quote from J.B. Priestley - "To say that these men paid their shillings to watch 22 hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink. For a shilling the Bruddesford United AFC offered you Conflict and Art."
From "The Good Companions" 1928.