Hodgkinson - Lane legend and programme collector

Programmed to collect: Alan Hodgkinson has the full set
Programmed to collect: Alan Hodgkinson has the full set
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WHEN Sheffield United goalkeeping legend Alan Hodgkinson returned to Bramall Lane recently with Oxford United, he did so as someone who made over 670 appearances for the Blades.

Hence the warmest of receptions for a true Blade who once bunked off school to see an FA Cup replay one midweek afternoon in the late 1940s.

During a round interviews he gave, ‘Hodgy’ noted that he has kept the programme from every match he played in for United. Which adds up to a decent collection.

If they’re stacked in order then we’re talking from 1954 through to 1971. He’s probably got some old reserve teamsheets as well.

He even had those issued on United’s trip to South America in the 1960s and which proved invaluable to United historian and author Denis Clarebrough when he compiled his excellent ‘First 100 Years of Sheffield United’ some years ago.

Denis has been a long-time programme collector himself, a passion begun as a youngster during wartime football at Bramall Lane when he would buy the single sheet they issued.

Denis - who says United were the first club to actually produce a match programme back in 1897 - notes that while there are exceptions, the real value in football programmes is associated with pre-mid 1950s ones, particularly the single sheet ones produced in the early years of the 20th century.

“I’m sure there must be some squirreled away up somebody’s loft left by a long lost relative and you could have a few thousand pounds worth in a single brown envelope,” says Denis.

For Denis, similar collectors and football enthusiasts from around the region, there’ll be plenty of interest at the annual Football Programme Fair to be held at the Sheffield Holiday Inn (formerly Royal Victoria Hotel) next Thursday, Dec 29 (from 11am to 2pm).

It began around 30 years ago and for anyone interested in football there are some little gems and a chance of some football nostalgia.

So, was it six minutes, seven minutes, eight or nine?

Somebody - probably beetroot-red in the face - reckoned it was 11 minutes, although that may have been an exasperated exaggeration.

We’re talking the Jordan Rhodes equaliser which rather flattened a Wednesday following poised for victory acclaim after, I gather, one of the best games seen at Hillsborough in years.

First e-mail I saw on Monday morning was from our own Owls correspondent, Paul Thompson, who wanted to ensure we were all in line with the timing.

“Ignore talk of seven minutes or beyond,” he wrote. “It came after five minutes 23 seconds on my stopwatch and therefore it was the sixth minute of stoppage time.”

So there. But not good enough for one Owls fan in this office. He pooh-poohed the Thompson timing.

He reckoned it must have been eight minutes, How did he know. He tapped his head! Must be better than a stopwatch then!

Just wonder if, in all his years as a solicitor, Brian Jones had anything quite as tricky or complex as the case he’s just been involved in.

Brian, chairman of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, was one of the three men sitting in judgment in the case of Luis Suarez who was found guilty of racist abuse.

They were in an unenviable position from the start. Whatever decision they came to there would be damnation from the ‘other’ side!