Blog number fourteen in the #Doingthe92 challenge is a visit to Bramall Lane. Home of League One Sheffield United. And for the third time in this challenge, I was doing fundraising with Prostate Cancer UK. However, unlike the last two times where I did pitch side photos for the charity, Sheffield United wouldn’t allow me to do that saying I should “stick to Sunday League” games or “that team up the road” (referring to Sheffield Wednesday). This was one of many grounds that I wasn’t looking forward to visiting. I don’t know whether it’s because of things that I had heard about the club but I really didn’t want to go. I guess I don’t really have a choice with which grounds make the list but I have to visit these grounds I hate sooner or later.
When I arrived in Sheffield, I decided to have a wander around the city to see what there is to do. I couldn’t really find much unless you really like shopping. If you like looking at graffiti paintings, then there’s a lot of that as you head towards the ground.
The ground is roughly 15 minutes away from the bus/train station on foot. Upon arriving there, I already wanted to head home. It didn’t help that the first thing I saw were 20 police vans parked outside the ground. All the police were carrying riot shields and looked like they were ready to draw their gun at you if you looked at them. Another thing that didn’t help my nerves was a piece of graffiti I found painted on a garage door opposite the ground that said “I wos here but I’d rather be dead!”
Yes they spelt “was” wrong but that was the least of my problems. Even the food vendors were giving me funny looks. While fundraising, I took a walk around the ground and one thing I noticed was that Bradford fans were being patted down before they entered the ground. Even those dressed like they just got off the plane from Ibiza were being patted down. I can understand wanting fans to not bring banned items in but it the patting down didn’t look friendly. The only good thing about the fundraising was that I got talking to someone else who was fundraising and she told me that she was a Rotherham fan. When I told her that I had visited the ground, she smiled. Then I told her some of the comments that some of the fans made after the Birmingham game and that smile turned into laughter before saying, “they do have a point”. She also said that if they sell Ben Pringle then they will struggle next season if they survive.
There were even fans who supported Derby County who were fundraising and spent the entire game watching Derby take on Huddersfield Town. That game ended 4-4. When the fundraising was over, I took my seat in Kennedy’s Kop and the first thing I noticed was that I was sat right on the corner of the ground. Also, you won’t believe how much of a hard time I had not calling the stand, Kennedy’s Kock. Yes I spelt it with a K because Kop starts with K.
The game started with the first half consisting of Bradford getting away with everything, from tackles to handballs, and Sheffield forgetting how to score a goal. To give you an example of what I mean, you’re playing FIFA and you’re one on one with the keeper. Instead of pressing the circle/B button, depending on what console you play on, you hit the square/X button. This did lead to a lot of Sheffield fans berating the players.
One thing I did notice while watching the game was that the Sheffield United goalkeeper, Mark Howard, was wearing a baseball cap. Granted it was nice and sunny outside but I was really confused as to why he was wearing a cap. Sheffield fans were booing even more then the referee booked Michael Doyle after 42 minutes for a tackle on Billy Clarke. During half-time, I went to use the toilets and I couldn’t help but notice that someone had written on the toilet door, “Justice for Ched”. Yes, Sheffield United fans wanted justice for Ched Evans.
The second half started and Sheffield took the lead after 57 minutes thanks to Jason Holt. I’m not quite sure how he scored but it looked like a scramble in the box. Before he scored, another yellow card was given to Bradford’s Rory McArdle. Then the referee gave another yellow to another Bradford player, Tony McMahon, on loan from Blackpool, for a ridiculous tackle on Jamie Murphy. Speaking of Murphy, this game marked 100 appearances for Sheffield United.
Sheffield’s lead was taken away after Billy Clarke scored the equalizing goal from a corner seven minutes before the final whistle. Before they scored, Bradford decided to bring on Jon Stead as a substitute. I’m guessing Stead had previously played for Sheffield United in the past as he was applauded when he came on by the Sheffield fans. After Clarke’s equalizing goal, I decided to leave and head home as I didn’t want to miss my train. That and I didn’t want to end up in the back of a police van because it looked like Sheffield fans wanted to fight Bradford fans for taking away their 3 points.
When I left, the only thing I missed was that Rory McArdle was given a red card seconds before the full time whistle. With that, Rory joins what I’m calling “The 92 Red Card Club”. This is a club that only players who get red carded at games I attend can only join. Prior to Rory entering, the sole inductee was Queen’s Park Rangers Joey Barton.
Overall, this is a ground that I really don’t want to visit again. I know I have to visit Sheffield again to visit Hillsborough, but when I visit that ground, I will be attending the game with friends who are fans of the club. When I posted on Facebook that I wasn’t liking my time at Bramall Lane, a Sheffield Wednesday fan, named Dan, had this to say, “My mate Daryl lives next to the ground, went to his house in my Wednesday coat. I thought “ill nip to the shop near his house and grab a drink” then saw it was painted red and white and called the United Store, I put my head down and power walked”. On that note, I hope you have enjoyed this. My next blog sees me visit League Two’s Stevenage as they hope to secure a play-off spot against Carlisle United.
Here are the full stats about the game
Team Visited – Sheffield United
Taking on – Bradford City
Venue – Bramall Lane
Date Visited – April 18th 2015
Overall Attendance – 21,879
Score – Sheffield United 1-1 Bradford City
Goal Scorers – Sheffield United – Jason Holt (57)
Goal Scorers – Bradford City – Billy Clarke (83)
Yellow Cards – Sheffield United – Michael Doyle (42)
Yellow Cards – Bradford City – Rory McArdle (53), Tony McMahon (65)
Red Cards – Bradford City – Rory McArdle (90)
15th – Stevenage (April 25th vs. Carlisle United)
16th – Morecambe (May 2nd vs. Southend United)
17th – Crystal Palace (May 26th – Julian Speroni’s Testimonial vs. Dundee FC)