Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Like Old Times

Sheffield  4  Rossington Main  1

Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup – First Round

When I walked out of the Coach & Horses on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon in April 2012, it was inconceivable that it would be over five years before I set foot in the place again.

Belper Town had just won 2-0, my lad George had been mascot for the day, and all had been set up by one of my best buddies, Stuart ‘Jamesie’ James.

The Business End
I was a regular at the Coach for a number of years, partly through Jamesie, and also somewhat cheekily because I was mates with the Sheffield goalkeeper Danny Haystead, and he used to get me in on his players pass!

Belper and Sheffield became rivals, we were both vying for promotion, and the numbers of players that crossed over between the two clubs was significant. But that said, as clubs and as individuals we had a relationship, it did get a bit tense at times, as it would when you have two successful teams challenging each other, but all was soon settled over a pint afterwards.

But life changes, doesn’t it?

Football teams evolve and move in different directions, clubs aims and ambitions change, individuals work and family commitments take over, priorities start to differ.

The Pitch Looks Great - But It's Not Started Raining Yet!
Consequently, Jamesie and I kind of lost touch for a variety of reasons, nothing malicious, it just happened that way, whereas at the same time our footballing preferences started to shift as well, mine probably more so than Jamesie’s. He became more involved with Sheffield, I distanced myself from Belper.

Looking back, we had some mad and amazing times. Two trips to Ireland, one where we missed the 
last bus from the South to the North after some heavy drinking in Finn Harps territory, and also a comical occasion in a bar in Dublin with a couple of Dutch girls who we managed to offend in one fell swoop when giving our honest critique of the adjacent U2 concert at Croke Park.

We also had a cracking trip to Holland on the overnight ferry to Rotterdam that culminated in us attending a house party on a canal side before the Spakenburg Derby. If there is ever a bucket list game for a football fan, then the Spakenburg Derby has to be on it. 

We have since touched base with each other from time to time, but what was once a twice / thrice weekly occurrence, is now perhaps once or twice a year at best, often by pure chance.

A Bit Of Blue For The Owls
It was time though, time to go back to the Coach & Horses, and with a County Cup tie on the agenda against Rossington Main, that time was now.

The Coach doesn’t change, it still looks like it’s always looked, our company still has the huge advertising board outside that I think is no longer paid for, nor is it accurate in it’s proclamations!

The stand still sits behind the goal, whereas the vocal element still stand in ‘Copnell Corner’ named after the infamous Stuart Copnell who wore the black and red shirt with such pride and dignity!

The offices and hospitality areas are at one end, and as would befit the Oldest Football Club In The World / The First Football Club In The World (delete as appropriate), the ground quite rightly shouts the clubs history to you.

The pub, after which the ground is named, still stands, still serving an array of Thornbridge Real Ales, still doing what looks like very good food, and still the venue where ‘Clubbies’ hold court before and after the game.

I met Stu as planned, we had communicated via social media the day before, and it was like old times as we reminisced about scrapes and adventures of years gone by. Ireland, Holland, Wales, Bradford, even Coventry!

A decent crowd of 170 assembled to watch the game, I chose to stand in ‘Copnell’s’ with Stu and his colleague Andy Dixon. The game was quite open in the early stages but two goals from Charlie Dawes before half time put the game in the host’s control.

Dawes completed his hat-trick with a second half penalty, and although Main pulled a goal back through Andrew McCready, Frank Koroma scored a really well taken fourth goal for Club to seal the victory.

So all in all, a good nights entertainment, a good nights banter, and also the chance to catch up with an old mate at a club where I spent a fair chunk of my time several years ago.

Jamesie, let’s not leave it so long next time, you fecking spanner!

Copnell's Corner - Home Of The Clubbies



  1. Too right mate. Fantastic craic old son, and forgot to mention Leicester v Wolves!!! Now that WAS funny.