A wet, grey day was forecast and a wet, grey day is what we got. The price of the train tickets dictated that I would be hitting Sheffield after my fellow ale trailers. There were pockets of Welsh rugby fans heading for the Principality for their game v Scotland, wondering round the concourse at New Street. It made a slightly more colourful addition to the start of the day. Usually, there’s the odd splash of royal blue but not much. Supporters of other sports aren’t seen as a menacing threat, like us football fans are, and so, are able to show their colours, without too much hassle. Andy and Moz were one of the pockets of Blues that were inhabiting the concourse. They looked a tad lost. I went down and caught the train, found my reservation and before I had untangled my headphones, Badger had got on and was searching for a seat till we spotted each other. Turned out that he was coming up to drink in Sheffield with us ale trailers, and then when we went to the game, he was traveling back down to Derby to meet up with up with lads he knows, who watch County and do what we do. We spent the journey talking about beer, pubs and old Blues games. I have to mention Badgers coat. I would’ve taken a photo but I didn’t want to take the chance that my phone would explode in protest. Even as write this post, my eyes are still adjusting. I have no idea where he found it, sure as Hell, I know how he found it. Even the blind see this thing. I have no idea who could and would design this garment and I’m pretty sure, it’s a one off, (To create another would be against the law in at least 87 countries) but I would be surprised if they’re not under 24 hour medical supervision. If you can imagine from my description without being sick or falling over with dizziness, I’ll be happy, as I don’t particularly want to be arrested and/or sued. The thing is a black and white chessboard design. That in itself is seemingly inoffensive, however, the drug influenced designer, either unaware or just plain sadistic, thought it an amazing idea to put swirls within the chessboard. Thing is, only Badger could carry this epileptic fit inducing monstrosity off. If anyone else were to try, they would be tasered, tranquilized, put in a straight jacket and carted off to a padded cell, “For their own protection”. We touched down in Sheffield and joined Steve, Mikey, Darrell, J.K. and Spoons at the usual table in The Sheffield Tap. With Badger with us, the talk was of his YouTube video. It had gone down an absolute storm. Even Villa fans had liked it. Only the knuckle scrapers amongst their fraternity, had taken a dislike to it. He’s actually had death threats from them. Pathetic really. That’s a lack of intelligence for you though. We walked through to the back of the station and caught the tram up to the centre of Sheffield, where we changed trams. We were all in agreement that Brum was lagging behind with our tram system. Other cities systems are way ahead and better than ours. We were also in agreement that our council doesn’t work hard enough to catch up. Their handling of the refuse strike being a prime example of money wasted. We got off at Shalesmoor and walked to the first one on the days trail.
Not a Wally with a brolly.
The Stew and Oyster is a new addition for us. A welcome addition too. There was an emphasis on food but us beer drinkers were welcomed with open arms. Sometimes with these sorts of places, the beer is a side issue and you can feel a bit marginalised. Not here. Spoons did a bit of positive canvassing for Churchend. I have no idea what the food was like in this place but if it’s half as good as the pint I had, it’ll be excellent. I could’ve easily have tucked the barrel under my arm and taken it with me. Obviously, that’s a figure of speech, as I’ve got rather short arms and the barrel would’ve been too heavy (Though not for long as it was truly gorgeous)
I don’t know where the Stew was, guessing it wasn’t in the bowl to the right of the oysters.
Badger joined us and after he’d polished his cider off, we moved onto the Fat Cat. We talked about the rejuvenation of the Kelham Island district of Sheffield. All down to real ale. Every time we go there, more developments have been finished, with more starting. It was the pubs and the ale that attracted the more discerning customer who were to return, bringing friends. A nationwide ale trailer will tell you how good the area is. Soon, a derelict area became an attractive proposition.
Before Worthington’s became one of those cream/smooth flow undrinkables.
We went round the corner to The Kelham Island, where we made ourselves comfy in the back. We were joined by Andy and Moz. Steve had found a book on football’s strangest matches and preceded to keeping us entertained by reading extracts. The worst bit of this, I knew a lot of them, and couldn’t help myself but adding a bit of background, boring everyone to sleep. We moved on to The Shakespeare, but noted that the Bar Stewards micro pub looked closed down because the door was boarded up. The Shakespeare is another excellent pub dragging people in, this time, the other side of the island. I don’t know what I had on this occasion though, as it wasn’t great. It happens from time to time that you get a non-descript Doombar esque, pint. Such is the quality of beer these days, you can almost be spoilt. Coming out, we noted that The Bar Stewards wasn’t shut down, it was just that the door was damaged. We caught up with J.K. in The Wellington. This place is very easy on the eye.
This was all my phone allowed of Badgers coat before making a grinding noise and getting hot.
We grabbed an extremely packed tram to the ground. Room was made for Spoons who was recognized and instantly renamed Meatloaf. After a few lines of Meatloaf’s back catalogue and a rendition of Keep Right On, the compartment quietened down enough to enable me and Spoons to talk to a woman who had naively thought this particular tram would be ok to catch. She’d mistakenly thought that Wednesday were away. We established who we were, and that we weren’t all rabid, violent nutters. We joked that some of us were worse. We put her at ease, though she was visually relieved to get off. Whether that was because of the lairiness, or the proximity of two inebriated Brummies in me and Spoons trying to make light of the situation, I don’t know, but I can’t see her making the same mistake of not checking if Wednesday are at home before venturing out on a Saturday again.
Like a bat out of Hell.
At the last minute, another turnstile was opened up and we managed to get in before, what would’ve been half time, if they hadn’t. The first people I saw on getting in the ground, were Bryn, Son of Bryn and Birdy. Birdy had actually got three layers of clothing on. Maybe age had finally caught up with him. We compared notes on which pubs we’d been in. They hadn’t been in as many as me.
I spotted Andy and Moz and stood with them. Both teams were still trying to get a foothold in the game, when Blues put a ball in to the box that would’ve been an easy take for the keeper Wildsmith had it not been for the bizarre intervention from a Wednesday defender. It led to a race between the defender and Davis, to get to the ball. Davis won. 1:0, cue delirium. If that was funny from a Blues perspective, what happened next was hilarious. Jota shot tamely, left footed towards the keeper from outside the area, looked a complete waste of a chance. It was bread and butter for Wildsmith. The net billowed behind him. He’d contrived to make a right hash of it and let it through his arms somehow. Cue disbelief and delirium. 2:0 Blues. A suicide ball from Jota, led to Grounds getting injured. It looked bad. He was stretchered off, replaced by Bramall. A blow we could’ve done without. The referee decided to make it better for us. There was a coming together between Bramall and Matias. There was a bit of afters, but it was a talking to for both at best, a booking for both at most. After a consultation with his assistant, who was closer than me in all fairness, the referee gave Matias a straight red. The added time board was put up and I made my way down the steps, but not before spotting Steph, Justin and the rest and saying hello. It had been their first away game for a while and they couldn’t have chosen a more incident laden one. As I was catching up with them, Blues made their advantage count and Jota scored his second from close in after a well worked move. This wasn’t just wonderland, this was parallel universe stuff. A parallel universe where Blues had got the Midas touch, and Wednesday, the exact opposite of it. Six goals in two games and I’d happily ended up with a bad case of seat rash. I’ve gained more injuries celebrating goals in seats than I’ve ever gained on terracing. It’s mostly grazing to the shins and bruising to the calf muscles, but the more wild celebrations have led to bruising to other parts of my body after going sprawling with others over the metal and coloured plastic obstacles. I dream of a time when terracing is once again, at every ground and you have a choice as to whether you want to stand or sit, regardless of whether you’re a home or away fan. 3:0 half time and what had happened, was way more than anyone in the ground could have imagined. This was why I do football and Blues in particular. I saw Daz on the way down the stand but not George. Apparently, he wouldn’t pay £33 for a ticket. Daz went on to regale me with stories of how “tight” George could be. Something that surprised me, given the blokes circumstances. Sometimes, you think you know someone, and you just don’t. I headed downstairs and met up with Steve. We picked the bones out of what we’d seen in the first half, and there was more bones to pick, than your average fish. I saw Donny Karen holding court with a pocket of Blues usuals. Always a regular at the northern away games due to living in Doncaster, she’s a bit of an oddity. She’s sociable but definitely a loner. Back upstairs for the second half and Blues were sitting back. I’m not saying I want Blues to just attack attack attack at costs but I’m certainly not a fan of sitting back and inviting pressure. 3:0 and a man down, Wednesday had nothing to lose. They went at us and scored. It was the best goal of the game. It momentarily, lifted the place before a Blues attack put pay to it, or more to the point, the referee did. Pudil upended Maxime Colin and got booked for the second time in the game. We waved him off. Surely we could score another couple of goals to make it one of those games you’d still be talking about, in twenty years time. Nope. Everyone in the ground, could’ve left en masse. We kept the ball without threatening to add to the scoreline. There was a part of me, that wouldn’t have been surprised had we’d ended up drawing the game, had Wednesday managed to break away a couple of times. Born out of experience, we don’t do clinical. Except for the Francis days (7 goal wins v Stoke and Oxford), we never really have in my lifetime. I doubt, we ever will. Another thing, that makes us who we are. Makes junkies of us all.
I caught up with Darrell, Steve, J.K. Mikey on the tram. They were heading back to the station, I’d got a bit of time to play with, so had a couple more pubs I wanted to do. Due to talking with them, I missed my stop, had to get off at the next one, and walk back. I wanted to take a photo of the outside of The New Barrack Tavern, because it shares the same architecture as The Rutland, but to do it justice, I would’ve had to have crossed over the dual carriageway to take one. It was too much trouble and it was raining, so that wasn’t going to happen. It was full of rightly disgruntled Owls fans, watching Wolves v Sheffield United. I decided to hole out in the pool room, next to a radiator and read the programme. Wanting to know the score, I put my head round the door and also spotted an empty seat. Wolves to the delight of the blue half of Sheffield, were making light work of the red half. I drank up and got the tram to West Street. West Street is similar to Broad Street in Brum. Full of bars, clubs and eateries. Just off West Street is The Bath Hotel.
Like The Wellington, this is a beautiful, lovingly kept piece of Sheffield history. A place, I’ve covered before, so I won’t again. I got the tram a little further than walked back along to my favourite pub in Sheffield. The Rutland. I’d got enough time to do either here, or The Tap on the station. No contest for me. I just think, this place is cool, without knowing it. It’s got the perfect mix you want from a pub. Again, I’ve covered this place before. With a visit to this place, my day in Sheffield, had come to a contented end.
Play it again Sam.
I found Andy and Moz on the train and sat with them on the way back to Brum. A day out in Sheffield is always a good day, but the game had made it a great day.