I decided this year to quench my thirst for Boxing Day football by visiting Hallam F.C in S10 Sheffield. The Sandygate Road ground has been well chronicled as the oldest football ground in the World. One I have visited and written about before. It is still recognised as then place where the first ever Inter Club game between Hallam and Sheffield F.C took place on a Boxing Day 161 years ago. The purist will say that Boxing Day is the 26th of December but today the 28th is the Boxing Day Public Holiday because this year the 26th fell on a Sunday.
I did not go to bathe in history but to see what is bubbling up in this corner of the city. There have been five crowds over 500 in all competitions in this 10th level of English football so far this season and today there are 1128 to see Hallam play Brigg Town in a second play third in the North East Counties League Division One. With only 3 sides of the stadium available for fans it felt full.
The game was on thanks to a 10.30 pitch inspection and you could see in one corner why the game had been in doubt after the rain of the preceding 48 hours. The clouds were still swirling in on this edge of the Pennines some 800 feet above sea level and the strengthening wind was giving a colder feel although it had been dry for the last 5 hours. The pitch which heavily slopes from one end to another looked very sodden in the lower half of the ground but the goal areas looked well playable.
I have written about Hallam before but Brigg Town are a new team to me and in the special 24 page program for this Christmas game there was a good history of both teams. Brigg have a long history like Hallam being formed in 1864 and like most teams of the era played local football in Lincolnshire. They like Hallam were founder members of the NCEL in 1982 where for 20 years they stayed until 2004 when they were promoted to the Northern Premier League where they stayed until 2014 and off field problems helped to see them slide through the NCEL to the Lincolnshire League but regained their NCEL status in 2019. New owners in 2017 have seen a dramatic change at the club, its facilities and community involvement, you could say that Brigg Town are definitely on the up back to their previous level. Brigg’s history also boasts two F.A, Vase wins in 1996 and 2003.
Hallam FC 3 v Brigg Town CIC 2
The Countrymen v The Zebras
Northern Counties East Division One: Tuesday 28th December 3.00 pm Kick Off
Hallam kicked downhill in the first half and took advantage of placing through ball that hel up in the conditions for players to run on to. They also employed long throws into Briggs penalty area from both sides of the pitch. Hallam took the lead on 19 minutes when one of the through balls was met by Iren Wilson who steadied the ball, burst forward and hit the ball into the top left corner of the net across the goalkeeper. Brigg responded and Myles wright in goal for Hallam made too good low down saves to keep them out. Hallam though were still creating chances and from a corner Iren Wilson popped up to against the bar. The thrilling first half ended with Hallam leading one nil.
Brigg threw everything at the game from the restart and after just 2 minutes from the restart a reckless tackle in the area gave Brigg the opportunity to level from the penalty spot. This was despatched by Scott Phillips and Brigg continued to push forward which gave Iren Wilson another chance to produce a carbon copy of his first half goal which he did in some style.
Hallam’s defence held firm despite a constant battering and in the gloom at the Brigg goal end Hallam went further ahead when Craig Mitchell squeezes home a third for the home side in a goalmouth scramble with 7 minutes left. Johnathan Oglesby however made the large home crowd nervous 4 minutes later when he scored with a superb long shot.
Hallam ran out 3-2 winners and have gone top of the League with North Ferriby losing at home. The S10 stirrings continue and if the rest of the season carries on like this 1128 may be beaten. It was great to be there and enjoy the atmosphere to lift the Covid gloom.
I did not buy any chips as the queue was very long and I decided to be careful with the ultra Omicron striking many people I know.