Playing Sheffield Wednesday on a…… I’d booked the time off work for this one. I don’t get a lot of annual leave that isn’t nailed down by ‘Company requirements’, three days in fact, so I have to use the three days I can use at my discretion, very very carefully. Like most, my ‘allowance’ is from January to December, so you have to keep ones powder dry, so to speak. You are given more through time served, I can’t see me getting any more. I’d got my overnight bag ready, always feeling that there’s something forgotten, I got the bus into town, having a pint in The Wellington, before getting the train. It always feels strange going to a midweek away game, it’s more relaxed, you’re not rushing around so much. Those precious personal holidays, not wasted. I got the train up to Derby, where I changed for one up to Sheffield. Relaxation had got me thinking about how the body disintegrates as we get older, and how most people battle against it, healthier options, squeezing as much as they can, by stretching their life out. It’s futile, death is not something you’re going to stop, so you might as well enjoy what you’ve got, don’t worry that it’s unhealthy just as long as it tastes good. A slave to the gym, wearing yourself out, kidding yourself that it’s doing you good, wasting time doing something that you don’t actually enjoy, when death will catch up with you anyway. Doesn’t make sense to me. Take care of what’s in between your ears, much more important. No point of having a lovely looking car, if the electrics don’t work. I touched down in Sheffield and headed to the hotel I’d booked into for the night. Checking in when I got there, bag emptied and put away, I went out into Sheffield, to the Banker’s Draft, a Wetherspoons. I hadn’t done an itinerary, I didn’t really need to, as I’ve been to Sheffield several times now, and know where most of the good pubs are, it was just a matter of which ones I was going to visit. The first one, is one of my favourites, possibly my favourite in Sheffield, The Bath Hotel is a wonderful throwback to a different age, no sparkly wine bar feel to this place, surprising with its proximity to the famous West Street area of Sheffield.
“Not a shower”
“Snug as a bug”
I got the tram from West Street to Shalesmoor, dodging rain and puddles turning into lakes, on the way to Kelham Island Tavern, a pub that is a mecca to ale trailers from all over the country, and home to excellent pork pies.
“No mustard required”
With The Wellington being the closest pub to the tram stop, no, not the one in Brum, there’s no plans for a line and stop on Bennett’s Hill yet, and another one vying to be my favourite pub in Sheffield, it was there next, The Welly, Sheffield edition, is a marvelous example of an Art Deco pub interior, if like me, you’re a sucker for Art Deco, then take a visit, if you’re not, take a visit anyway.
“A bit of the pub I hadn’t been in”
I got the tram, the rest of the way to Leppings Lane, getting in the ground for just after kickoff, I may have been on my own, but I was still going to uphold the fiercely kept tradition of the Blues ale trailers. Most of our Saturday away games sell out, this isn’t the case with evening games, and It was easy finding somewhere up the back to watch the game from.
The first half was fairly equal, which with our shape changing up front due to Alvaro Gimenez playing instead of Jutkiewicz, made for adjustments to the way we played. It was Monk’s first game against us since being unceremoniously dumped, but the way he sets his team’s up, and gets them to play, hadn’t changed, Wednesday played like I expected them to play. I spotted Steph’s crew and went to join them at halftime, where Dave informed me that our mate Hamed is being tested for cancer, I asked Dave to let me know the outcome, if he’s got it, then I’ll be making the effort to go and visit him where he lives, fingers and toes crossed that he’s clear. Second half started, and I stayed to watch it with them, it wasn’t long into the second half when we were all bouncing up and down, a deft finish by the Juke’s replacement, appeared to vindicate his inclusion. Our football at times is a absolute joy to watch, it’s not getting its rewards though, and lovers of wam bam football that exponents of Sunday League can play, get frustrated easily, and utter banal ‘kneejerk’ solutions, a member of the WhatsApp group I belong to suggested replacing Jude Bellingham with David Davis, something akin to swapping Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes with a builder in a JCB, for the final 10 laps at the British Grand Prix, with the hope of winning it. As a set of fans, we’ve been blessed with a talent that will go on to be one of the world’s best, that might sound sensationalist, but it’s the way it is, I can not believe that people can not see it, we’re not going to have Bellingham for long, before he’s out grown us and moves on, appreciate what you’ve got, while you’ve got it, instead of expecting full on perfection in everyone else whilst falling short personally. It’s blatantly obvious where the problems lie with our team, but it seems that because he’s so ridiculously young, and he’s homegrown, Bellingham is an easy target when the real problems are being overlooked by the myopic amongst us. Although we were ripping through Sheffield Wednesday almost at will, Will wasn’t playing ball, that elusive second didn’t arrive, I’m sure that had certain previous managers been in charge of us, then they’d have commandeered a passing tram, and parked it in front of our goal, and with at least a quarter of the game still to go, we could’ve left to catch the next one, back into town. We’d have won, but felt short changed, but Pep Clotet likes his team’s to try and attack from first minute to the last. Even in the most one sided of games, both teams will get time with the ball, in a game that is fairly equal, then it’s what you can manage to do with it, how it’s defended, you can see that there’s no confidence that the strikers are going to score for Blues, you know that the defence doesn’t work as a unit properly, and there’s no confidence in the goalkeeper, the equaliser was getting closer as Wednesday worked better, Bannan buzzing around, like the pesky wasp he is, with 10 minutes to go, that equaliser happened and the wish was granted, Davis replaced Bellingham. I like Davis, he’s like Kieftenbeld, honest and hardworking, but I don’t want either anywhere near the first team, as they’re simply not good enough, Davis is 28, Bellingham is 12 years his junior, yet Davis isn’t even half as good as Bellingham, even now. Davis won’t get any better, Bellingham is getting better every game, he’s learning at lightning quick speed. The progress he’s made already is astonishing, yet some believe he needs resting, something I know to be wrong, he’s already become a mainstay of our midfield, and like what happened when he was replaced by Davis, his absence will already have a detrimental effect.
I got a jam packed tram back into town, getting off, I decided to go to another Sheffield favourite of mine, The Rutland Arms, I love the bohemian vibe this student inhabited place has got. It’s always got a good range on, and it’s got a great jukebox, which I fed for a few tracks.
“I apologised for the awful choice in music”
Pint finished, music finished, I went back to the digs.
After a revitalising shower, I checked out, and had a good mooch round the city centre.
“Some would say they need to change the ‘N’ for an ‘M’, some, ‘Lane’ for something more derogatory”
I went back to the Banker’s Draft, noting one of the guest ales had been changed from my previous visit, I plumped for that, before venturing back out, although I didn’t do an itinerary, I did want to go to one place that had been on my wishlist for a while, when I’m travelling around the country by train, I find myself pub spotting from the window, wondering what they’d be like, whether the beer is any good, The Sheaf View, is one of those pubs, on the way into Sheffield, you can see the pub, as it’s position is quite prominent, I admit, the walk out to it, was longer than I was expecting, but then I was walking out to an area of Sheffield I didn’t know, and the mind plays tricks on you in those situations, it was well worth the effort though.
“A lovingly kept interior”
I could’ve got the bus back into town, but not knowing an area, you find yourself not trusting the local service, and so I walked back, and because it had become familiar, didn’t feel as long. Most trips up to Sheffield and surrounding games where you have to change there, start at The Sheffield Tap, I sat in the back room where you can see all the brewing, they tend to do all their brewing in midweek, and the air was filled with a lovely malty aroma, heaven for an ale trailer.
“A tad spectacular”
I got the Penzance train back to Brum, I noted that it was to take just a couple of minutes under 7 hours to Penzance from Sheffield, I was fortunate in that it would only take a few minutes over an hour back to Brum. Touching down, I decided to check out a place that must’ve had me in mind, when Craddock’s brewery named it, Good Intent is a bar that has been opened in Isambard Kingdom Brunnel designed Great Western Arcade, it’s in keeping.
“A welcome addition to the ever growing Brum ale scene”
Very plush, a nice place to drop in as part of a trail, though it wasn’t going to be in the itinerary for the next game v Millwall at home.