I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times my feet have graced the playing surface of a Football League ground. Sadly, they were end-of-season incursions on each occasion, celebrating Leicester’s Division Two championship at Fratton Park in 1971 (I was young!), a wander onto the Filbert Street turf in the late 1970s, and similarly at the City Ground on the last day of the original Trent End (1994 I recall) and the more recent promotion success from League 1. My aspirations for playing on such a pitch were never realised, being limited to just a one-off game on a Leicestershire Senior League ground. Mainly it was school playing fields and cowpat meadows.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon at Bramall Lane, home to the relegated South Yorkshire ‘Bleerds’, probably my most hated opponents after the Shaggers. Give ’em their due, though, having provided their facilities for a local youth football club to stage a fund-raising six-a-side tournament to which my lad’s side had been invited. We set up home in the lower-tier of the South Stand, Kop end and proudly watched our youngsters grace the turf of a Football League stadium. What’s more, my lad scored a goal (in the six-a-side net), hit the net twice more (in the full-size goal that surrounded it) and hit the crossbar of same. He’ll be able to tell his grandkids that he once scored a hat-trick in the Kop end at Bramall Lane and won the crossbar challenge too!
Puts my lowly youthful aspirations into perspective. Oh and he won the raffle as well. A ‘Bleerds’ away shirt signed by Billy Sharp. He’s no idea who Billy Sharp is but he’s not taken it off since. Happy days.