I went to Ecclesall Road for the first time after moving to Sheffield and met the friendliest England fans
There was no better time to get introduced to Eccelsall Road than on one of the most heaving afternoons in over a year.
I moved to Sheffield on Friday and started for The Star on Monday. By Tuesday, news editor Dan's plan was to throw me headlong into the famous street of Sheffield pubs to meet the city’s finest.
"Head up Eccy Road and go in every pub garden you see,” Dan instructed. “Talk to people about how they feel ahead of the England vs Germany match. Get the story in by 5pm.”
"Are you sure people will even want to talk to me?” I replied.
“Don’t worry about that,” Dan chuckled.
He knew what he was saying too.
"Did you say you’re from the Star?” exclaimed the first lad I asked, Callum, in the pub garden of Champs Sports Bar. “Boys, we’re gonna be in the paper, do we get a picture?”
And Ecclesall Road treated me well. I was sent out on a Tuesday afternoon and expected a cold shoulder from patrons. I ended up with pages and pages just from the queue outside the Nursery Tavern. I even got a quote from a man outside the Porter Brook who struck first and asked me how I was.
I was warmly assured by friends in the city that Sheffield’s locals have held onto neighbourly sensibilities and will ask people they’ve never met how their day was. As I wandered Ecclesall Road soaking up the buzz ahead of the England game, I couldn’t disprove it. People were thrilled to say how they felt and what a good night they were about to have (and if only they knew at the time how right they were).
To say nothing of the pubs themselves. It’s a good move to let staff know why you’ve come to wander up to their customers for quotes – so all the better when every venue I arrived at happily ushered me in and said where to find the boys who had been in since 7am.
I cannot wait to see more when restrictions end. All of Tuesday’s mad night was chaperoned by track and trace and rules. I hope before too long Ecclesall Road can shake it off and show me what it’s really all about.