Sunday, 14 January 2018

A Whole New World

Ecclesfield Eagles  5  Kings Athletic  2

Sheffield & District Fair Play League – Division Three

I think I’ve discovered a whole new World?

It was just as we were moving into December and I was browsing a well known forum (you know the one) which is frequented by the hygienically challenged, socially inadequate and potential dwellers of the Spectrum!

I was on it for research purposes only, you see it has a very well maintained list of all of the football grounds in the UK that have plastic pitches. Handy for the bad weather obviously, and with frosticles clearly looming I wanted to look up some options.

It was then that I spotted something called the Sheffield & District Fair Play League, it caught my eye, that was pretty damn close to home? I then spotted that one of the teams, Ecclesfield Eagles, played at Concord Sports Centre, on the very same artificial surface that I was planning on taking a look at Boynton Sports play on.

Match Action
Curiously I found the league website and bloody hell, this competition was about to open up a whole host of options, no more hanging around on a Saturday morning now. All of the games kicked off at 10.30am, and not only that, four whole divisions and a website that looked bang up to date and well maintained.

Hang on though, how the hell are you supposed to work out where the likes of Zion New Boyz, FC Philly, Swallownest Bethesda, Thurgoland Welfare and Crookes Crusaders actually play? Worry ye not, a club directory provided all of the information.

Right, I’m due to be married in the next couple of months, so I don’t really want the divorce papers serving before we’ve barely got past the speeches, so clearly trotting off every Saturday to pick up a 10.30am game prior to the main event in the afternoon was not an option, but from time to time, where’s the harm?

Of course, the other really important factor to be bear in mind, and I mean this with the greatest of respect to the clubs and players, it might not be very good? I remember my mate Steve embarking on the Hope Valley League and after a season of that, at the age of 60, he was thinking of resuming his playing career, assuming of course he’d retained the will to live?

The Green Green Grass Of Wincobank
I had a plan, second Saturday in January, Ecclesfield Eagles were playing Kings Athletic up at Concord, and then afterwards I had a few choices but my preference was a short ride to Thurcroft, but more on that later.

So, Meadowhall was circumnavigated (will someone destroy it please?), and the climb up the famous Cote du Jenkin took me past the Shiregreen Club, where the Full Monty was both set and filmed, before the huge Concord complex appeared on the right.

It’s quite a lofty setting in this part of the Steel City, so an a day that started out quite mild as I left home, it was suddenly bordering on Baltic, but bang on cue, as I wandered round the back of the Sports Centre to the all weather pitch, the players were warming up as the referee was checking the time.

A Gazillion Feet Above Sea Level
I’m not sure what ‘G’ the surface is at Concord, but I’ll be honest, it looked to be more rubber crumb than it did artificial grass, in fact it took on a somewhat black appearance if you looked at it from the sidelines. That said, it seemed to play ok, so appearances don’t tell the full story.

So what about the game? Well this was Division Three and the visitors Kings were riding high in second place, while the hosts were mid-table. It didn’t go to the form book though, not one bit!

By half time Ecclesfield had a two goal lead, and then with twenty minutes to go they were 5-0 up and playing very well indeed. Thanks to the informative Eagles Twitter account, I can confirm the goals came from Christian Fox, Jack Newton, Jordan Thornton, Chris Thwaites and Luke Davis!

You could argue that the Eagles took their foot off the gas in the closing stages and as a result they conceded two late goals to the side who are based at Birley Community College, but by this stage it really didn’t matter.

Warming Up
Ironically, it turned out Steve had also decided to dip his toe into the league, he was watching a Division Four match over in Maltby where Zion New Boyz were at home, and that gave us chance to compare notes as we travelled to our respective second games.

My honest assessment would be that it was a pretty decent standard of football. Both sides tried to play a passing game, they were disciplined and they were organised. I am lead to believe in pre-season Ecclesfield gave County Senior League side Boynton a bit of a stuffing, so read into that what you will.

So what is it all about? I would hazard a guess that it’s designed to give lads who like to watch football on a Saturday afternoon (United, Wednesday etc) a chance to play competitively without it clashing. Ironically, with the Steel City Derby having taken place the night before, maybe one or two were turning out with hangovers today!

You know what, I’ve had a quick look, I can get one in early in March before heading off up to Hepworth United. That sounds like a plan, just need to speak nicely to Mrs H..........

Concord Sports Centre

No comments:

Post a Comment