Tuesday, April 01, 2008

An Unanticipated Treat

We were just starting our evening meal at 6.50 pm last night, when Ann ask me if Sheffield FC were playing at home during the week. It suddenly dawned on me that the kick-off was less that an hour away. I made the terraces with 5 minutes to spare.

It was a fine evening. No wind, no rain and a reasonable temperature. Unfortunately, the pitch had soaked up earlier rain and was covered with a great deal of sand to make it playable. Yet there were still areas of mud, where the club must have run out of sand and our opponents from Colwyn Bay hadn't brought any with them. When the ball was booted in the air and landed in the mud it came to a stop with a sudden "plop". It was like watching a game on the telly from that peculiar pitch at Wigan Athletic.

But it was still a lively contest. Eventually after 25 minutes Smudge (Paul Smith) took an impressive "bend it like Beckham" free-kick on 25 minutes to put Sheffield FC ahead. He is a first class act having over 200 League games under his belt.

We did not, however, deserve a 1-0 half-time lead, with Colwyn Bay having a sure goal unknowingly deflected past the post by a defender, rattling the bar and missing a sitter.

When Tom asked me what my estimate of the crowd was, I came up with a figure of 150 which is under half our average attendance. But my estimate of the small size of the crowd meant that I could leave it until about 10 seconds before half time to slip out of the ground for a pint at the Coach and Horses, yet still make it back in time for the ref blowing for the start of the second half.

The pattern of play was similar to recent home games. Sheffield FC struggled in the first half, but came to dominate the longer the match went on. Jamie Smith, a recent signing from Gainborough Trinity came on as substitute and settled the result 2-0 in our favour with a goal in the 85th minute. That puts us 3 points clear in a play-off position with between 3 to 6 games in hand of the teams ahead of us. Our record is very similar to that of FC Manchester who operate in a parallel league and (like us) are seeking a play-off spot to try and make it to the Unibond Premier League.

In April (home and away) we have to fit in a minimum of 12 games. Ten in the League, a friendly at Bramall Lane against Ajax as part of out 150 year celebrations and a cup semi-final which could lead on to a final and game 13. For the home games, we need to order more sand as we can't afford more postponements from a waterlogged pitch.

At the moment, the Unibond web-site claims that we had 363 at last night's game. So had I miscalculated? Not when having to calculate the best time to leave for a half-time pint, whilst missing as little as possible of the game. It is the web-site that is wrong, for it also shows that the game listed above ours at Hednesford had a crowd of 363. There were not two identical sized crowds. It is a typing error.

We could only have achieved a crowd of that size if 200 more spouses had asked their partners when the next home game was. I am pleased Ann reminded me. There is nothing better than a last minute dash for an unanticipated match - providing, of course, it turns out to be a victory. Of course, I still had the washing up to do when I got back home!

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