Sez Les: When the Owls had hoops

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Funny what you might come across when clearing your drawers out. You’re always likely to learn something you didn’t know.

Now, I don’t know about you but when I’m clearing out reading material or chucking stuff out, I have a tendency to have a read of it. Again.

For sure the little brown-backed book I’d been keeping (not being chucked but going back to its rightful place) looked worth a peek inside.

Sheffield Football Association Calendar 1881-2 it was titled. So, that was even before “Hallamshire” got tagged on as well. Couldn’t resist reading some of the report of the 15th agm. Fascinating.

But it was when looking through the list of clubs (all in this area but, strangely, including Middlesbrough and Redcar on Teesside and Wednesdbury in the Midlands) something caught my eye additional to all the list of grounds in places long gone.

The club was simply called Wednesday (founded 1867, 250 members). Their ground back then was listed as Bramall Lane, a fact many people know. It was the shirt colours which I certainly didn’t know about. They are listed as blue and white HOOPS. There was me thinking Wednesday started in stripes.

Anyway, I’ve cleared my last drawer as this is my final column and, as someone who has always had a deep love of any sport (apart from one), it’s the end of what I consider a wonderful journey watching, writing and, yes, talking about it (particularly the latter!).

As a young lad of about 8 or 9, with a passion for football and cricket even then, I wrote made-up football reports (nothing much changed there then somebody quipped) imagining I was writing for the Green Un. My modest but abiding ambition was to be nothing other a footballer reporter and report for the Green ‘Un from an FA Cup Final at Wembley, preferably with Rotherham United in it (well, I was only a young kid). I managed the the first couple. Finishing at Wembley with the Millers was, well, the perfect finale I suppose!

From two European Cup Finals, Premier League, Football League, non-league down to the merest grass roots match, I can honestly say I’ve loved it all. Anywhere, anytime, any place for a game - and they actually paid me for it as well!

If the finish was good, my very first Millers game was a memorable start. February ‘69, entire country blanketed in snow, one of only four games played was Watford v Rotherham. The local Press travelled with the team back then and, due to delays, the players had to get changed on the coach. I ran errands up and down the coach, taking players this, fetching that - so there I was, at only 19, on my first Millers reporting assignment, helping players who I’d been cheering on from the terraces just weeks earlier!

My arrival in Sheffield coincided with a boom time in the city club’s fortunes, later the Premier League etc., and it was a great time to be around and I loved the chance to report from time to time on those two plus the other local clubs as well. Of course, there was much more to it than football...

To all those many people who have helped me along the way in so many different and varied ways, a massive and heartfelt thanks. What might I do next? Er, watch some football and a bit more cricket.