When the city was always buzzing but World Snooker was in its infancy.
I was recently contacted by an old school friend, who was deeply upset by what he called ‘the demise of the city centre’.
And it’s true, our city has fallen on hard times, like many of us may have never known or seen before.
Even in the terrible depressions and recessions – or even the Blitz – the High Street and Fargate always kept its head held high.
In the 70s and 80s when factories and coal mines were shutting weekly, the city centre, and the markets always had a buzz about them.
Even with the emergence of Meadowhall in 1990, and the downfall of our beloved markets and Woolworths, it still had some fight in it.
My friend was upset by the number of shops permanently closed by Covid-19, and the even greater emergence of people soliciting on the streets for spare change, or heavily under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both.
He also said he felt unsafe during the daylight hours – something he’s never felt before – even though at night, Sheffield, as most large towns and cities can be prone to nefarious incidents.
As a teenager of the 1970s and 80s, our city centre was always a place of endless fascination and possibilities, of excitement mischievous or not.
I remember back in 1977 the World Embassy Snooker Championship were in progress.
We’d just got back from a week's school trip to Barry Island – well before Gavin and Stacey were even born.
I was all a buzz from getting back to Sheffield after a week away, we’d decided to take a trip into town, as we did back then purely for entertainment.
As we walked up to Norfolk Street we remembered the snooker was being staged at the Crucible, it was then in its infancy – new to everyone.
Myself and one other decided to take a look to see what all the fuss was about, we entered the foyer and after blending in, we quickly, but discreetly went up the stairs.
Security must have been quite slack then as we managed to slip into the theatre, and started watching one of the early rounds games, today I have no clue who I sneaked in with me ,or who was playing, I always like to think it was Australian, Eddie Charlton ‘Steady Eddie’ as he was known.
We stayed in there until we got bored or thought we’d outstayed our welcome, then made our way back down to the Gallery and Woolworths.
But all the time there were hundreds of people of all ages, all social groups going about their business be it shopping, pub, football match, or just passing the time of day, as the weather was always nice in town back then, and if not there was the Hole In The Road or one of many large department stores to hang out.
And now it’s difficult to walk up the high street and find a shop with a shop next to it.
Chapel Walk is amazing – a narrow passage once alive and difficult to walk down due to footfall. But now there’s room to walk down there with a large brolly and not bother anyone.
How times have changed – it makes you wonder what the future will hold for our city centre.
But let’s hope that as in years gone by, Sheffield will rise from the effects of Covid and seize the new opportunities and that the years ahead will bring.