Hallam 0 Hall Road Rangers 1 (21/1/17).
I have been meaning to do a trip to this ground for a long time now. This is because the ground at Hallam has been recognised as the oldest ground in the World by the Guinness book of records. Hallam are also the second oldest club in the World after another club from the area. No, not Wednesday or United but Sheffield FC who actually play in Derbyshire.
It was a straight forward drive down the M1 then into Sheffield. I drove past Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday. 1979 was the only time I have been to this ground for a match. How football and life in general has changed since that time. Hallam’s, Sandygate ground is reached by a steep drive up the hills not far from Hillsborough. Crosspool is the suburb of Sheffield where Hallam are based opposite a pub called the Plough. In the early 1800’s the cricket club was established then the football club in 1860. Not many people will have heard of the Youdan cup. Hallam have the distinction of winning the first ever football competition cup. It is still on display in their Trophy cabinet today and is reportedly worth about £100,000. Hope the security is good at the club!
The ground is still shared with the cricket club today. There are no real signs to indicate this ground was from a long by gone age. In fact it has a very modern feel about with smart, tidy, newish club
house and seating. The only older feature might be the surrounding stone wall around the outskirts of the ground.
All the buildings are really down one side as the far side of the pitch connects with the cricket pitch. No one seems to be allowed to stand on the far side. The ground is on a bit of a slope and at the top end is a small covered stand for standing spectators. On the nearside and down by the half way line is a seated stand. Today’s capacity is 1,000 with 250 seats available. The ground might have been around since 1860 but the club has not. They went out of existence in the 1930,s and 40’s for 15 years before firmly re-establishing themselves again. Hallam also beat Bishop Auckland here in the Amateur cup in front of 2,000 fans.
At one time the ground had a half way line which was way of target. The grounds man must have had a few beers the night before and marked out a long way of his true course. I assume the club has remedied this now.
This North East Counties game was against Hall Road Rangers. Hall played in strips similar to their near neighbour Sheffield Wednesday. Hall Road Rangers played in yellow. Hall Road Rangers are from the Hull area and have been around since 1959.
It was a tough and physical game out there today. Hallam appeared to be creating a bit more but unable to convert any of their attacks into goals. There were a few scary tackles going in as well throughout the match and how no player on the day got a red card I will never know. One or two kicks going in were almost taken from watching too many Ninja films.
The teams went into the break 0-0. The match restarted and it was not long before Hall Road took the lead. Ashley Dexter scored on 52 minutes. A free kick into the box and I thought the goalkeeper was going to be able to collect it comfortably. He did not achieve this, then the ball hit the ground for Hall Road Rangers to score from just about on the line itself. The celebrations from the visitors would have had you thinking they had won the FA cup itself!
There were no more goals but the tough tackles continued.