A trip into Sheffield was met with fog but the lights inside Hallam FC’s ground in Crosspool seemed to lift the dreary conditions outside. This ground in a very leafy suburb on Sandygate Road and is officially the oldest football game in the world and home to the second oldest Football Club in the world.
The game to watch was Hallam FC v FC Bolsover in the North East Counties League Division 1 bringing together one very historic club with one very new club.
Hallam’s history is well documented whereas it is only FC Bolsover’s second season having gained promotion in their first from the Central Midland League North. Bolsover’s home ground position is a complete contrast to Hallam’s historic past, they started their first season on a 3 G pitch at Shirebrook’s academy school pitch before moving in with Shirebrook Town. Shirebrook are still their landlords but Bolsover are working hard to eventually locate in Bolsover itself.
Although FC Bolsover were set up by Cliff Thomas he is now Chair of Shirebrook and his son Benjamin is now Chair of FC Bolsover.
Concession entrance was again £2.50 and a program was available. A different twist here to Desborough, the official on the gate said that they print them at the ground and if they are about to run out then they print more. An easy £1.50 and a very practical solution and a 12 page program that gave me lots of information and statistics.
The clubhouse named the 1860 suite was very smart, clean and friendly. it was pretty quiet 30 minutes before kick off but soon filled up. A coffee in a china cup with a biscuit in a soft chair was good value at £1.30.
I had been to Hallam once before on May Day 2010 to see as the 150th anniversary celebrations of the World’s Oldest Derby played on the World’s Oldest Ground. On that sunny day you could see everything including the open fourth side to the ground which hosts the cricket pitch in the summer. Now I was greeted with this:
The fog seemed to get worse and the teams did not come out until just before kick off with everyone wandering if the game would go ahead.
Straight away Hallam took control playing down the prominent slope but Bolsover came into the game although at times it was hard to see much of the play. Not long before halftime Ord collected a rebounded ball and jinked past the keeper to score. 1-0 to Hallam at halftime seemed fair but Bolsover were still in the game and would be kicking down hill in the second half. My thoughts here were contradicted by a supporter who said that Hallam like kicking up hill!
Half time bought a visit to the drinks/food kiosk for a warm and a Proper Pasty. Proper Pasty is a Sheffield company with wholesale and retail units in South Yorkshire along with a fleet of sandwich vans that sell snack food and drinks but they are famous for their pasties that are made in Cornwall and shipped chilled before being baked locally. If you are at a football ground in Sheffield and you have a pastie or a pie you have to have it with Hendersons Relish. This amazing condiment is part of the DNA of Sheffield folk and has been since 1885.
Back to the football which was keenly contested but the local supporter was right and Hallam’s uphill skills were paying off. Constant pressure lead to a Mark West Penalty on 62 minutes and 6 minutes later Ord’s second made it 3-0 and seemingly game over.
Bolsover didn’t give up and Ainsley Finey scored the best goal of the night with a solo run from half way and a curled 20 yard shot out of reach of the goalkeeper Dave Darwent. The comeback wasn’t to be as Hallam’s superior stamina and the introduction of new signing Reece Twell saw him score another penalty with 15 minutes to go. The question was would Hallam score more or would the thickening fog win out and it would all have to be played again.
Just on full time Tom Roebuck made it 5-1 and not long after the ref blew for time. The officials have to be commended for their handling of the match in very difficult conditions. The referee rightly let the players be more verbal than usual as I’m sure that this was sometimes a better way to communicate than visually. He was firm and when the Bolsover bench wanted to be the referee he came over and strongly explained that he was in charge.
Finally what of FO9? A driver at work had once been delivering a vehicle and returned on a very foggy day to ask what are the FO9 sings on the motorway!
A great night despite the fog and a game that entertained the hardy 114.