On Tuesday 17th July 2012 I went to the Coach and Horses Ground to watch Sheffield FC play a strong Sheffield Wednesday side in a Pre Season Friendly.
After last night’s visit to the oldest football ground in the world, today we decided to go and watch the oldest club in the world, Sheffield FC, take on Sheffield Wednesday.
I had visited the Coach and Horses Ground four times previously. My first visit was back in 2005 to watch Sheffield FC play York City in a friendly which they lost 4-1 and then I visited annually between 2008 and 2010 to watch Chesterfield play, winning once, drawing once and losing once!
It is a nice set up at Sheffield FC which includes the Coach and Horses pub directly next to the ground which is often packed out when local sides like Chesterfield and Sheffield Wednesday visit in Pre Season. Inside, there is one all-seated stand behind one goal which provides a good view of the near net, but it is difficult to see the action at the opposite end while there is also a small covered terrace which runs down one side of the pitch.
Sheffield Wednesday were playing two fixtures this evening, one at the Coach and Horses and another at another local non-league side, Stocksbridge Park Steels. The Owls had sent strong sides to both games however, and I expected them to win the game against Sheffield quite easily with the likes of Jermaine Johnson, Jose Semedo, Chris O’Grady and trialist Marlon Harewood in their starting 11.
The Wednesday supporters had also come out in force for the game and there was hardly a spare place to stand in the ground! Luckily, we had arrived in enough time to find a decent spot behind the net that the visitors were shooting towards in the first half and the fact it was a warm evening meant that there was no need to stand under the covered areas.
Before kick off, there was a minute’s applause in memory of someone who had worked for Sheffield FC for many years and this was respectfully acknowledged by every player and supporter in the ground.
Sheffield Wednesday then got the game underway in front of over 1,300 supporters and they dominated most of the possession in the early stages as their experienced players controlled the play. After 9 minutes O’Grady had a great chance to open the scoring when Johnson’s cross found his head right in front of goal but his effort flew just over the crossbar.
The Owls continued to look dangerous, with Johnson having a couple of long range efforts go close while Harewood also headed over the bar from close range.
After 19 minutes the league side finally broke the deadlock when David Prutton played the ball to O’Grady inside the area and his low shot hit the back of the net to give Wednesday a deserved lead. It was a decent shot but Liam Flynn, the Sheffield goalkeeper, probably should have kept it out.
There were fewer chances after the goal as Sheffield managed to grow in to the game a little more and keep the visitors at bay. Miguel Llera looked to be in a good position to double the lead from a free kick towards the end of the half, but his shot was quite a way off target.
During the break, we decided to go and try to find another place to stand to gain a different view of the action and as we walked past the main stand I spotted former Premiership referee Uriah Rennie, who had also been at the Hallam game last night. He is always very friendly every time we have met him and he was happy to pose for a photo with me.
For the second half, we were stood about half way down the pitch near the dugouts and me and my Dad had a chat with Wednesday fan Jonny who had recognised me from my website.
The home side’s performance improved vastly in the second half and they went pushing for an equalising goal. The Sheffield attackers forced a couple of good saves out of the goalkeeper and eventually the attacks paid off with around 15 minutes to go as Dan Williams’ looping header flew past young ssubstitute ‘keeper Cameron Dawson and in to the net to level the scores.
Both sides went pushing for an winning goal but as Wednesday replaced their first team players with less experienced ones, the game began to even out and Sheffield looked more likely to snatch a late winner as the game went on.
The Owls had another free kick in a dangerous position with around 10 minutes to go, but Giles Coke blazed the shot over the bar. The home side then went on the attack and substitute Matt Roney looked to be in a good position in front of goal but his effort was off target.
Sheffield came closest to finding a winning goal in the final few moments as Williams almost grabbed his and the home sides second with a shot from the edge of the area which was well saved by young Wednesday goalkeeper Dawson.
The game ended level which was probably a fair result as Wednesday had dominated the first half while Sheffield FC had played much better in the second and came close to snatching a victory at the end.
I enjoyed my trip to the Coach and Horses Ground. Watching an entertaining game on a lovely warm July evening is probably the best way to watch football!
Sheffield FC 1–1 Sheffield Wednesday
O’Grady ’19, Williams ’75Flynn, Barnett, Weir, Woolley, Hadfield, Burrell, Adam, Foster, Powell, Gascoigne, McKenzie Bywater, Coke, Mattock, Prutton, R Jones, Llera, J Johnson, Semedo, O’Grady, Harewood, Bennett Attendance: 1,342