A local football mystery: where is the missing Cup?

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THE item on Alex Sabella last week, the former Blade and new coach of Argentina, led to a call from a Blades follower.

He pointed out a notable omission, concerning Sabella’s final appearance for Sheffield United. It came in May 1980, he scored as United beat Wednesday 2-1 at Bramall Lane.

That was in the final of the old Sheffield and Hallamshire County Cup which at one time was a regular feature on the footballing calendar of the five professional South Yorkshire clubs. It’s nearly 30 years since the competition was played with any regularity, so there are many who never knew it even existed.

At one time, it was certainly big enough to attract a crowd of 49,000 to see Wednesday play United in it and that was only the semi-final!

Which brings me on to a new book about the history of the County Cup. And should there be any fact you should ever wish to know about it then this is the publication.

The man who devoted months to exhaustive research is Andrew Kirkham, no doubt enjoying life right now as a Blade.

The competition began in 1921 and, throughout, raised money for the S&H FA. After a chequered final few years, the last final was played in 1993 which, in turn, was five years after the previous final. Andrew has compiled the history of all 234 games played across the 70 years or so.

Among the numerous lists he has compiled include penalty shoot-out saves, own goals, hat-tricks or better, even goals with uncertain scorers i.e. where there was a doubt and two players were named. Most winners medals? Former Blades right back Cec Coldwell with seven.

Andrew answers most questions. But there is one unanswered. Where is the County Cup now?

Last winners were Barnsley in 1993 but Andrew says no one at Oakwell knows what happened to it. Does anybody know?

The Sheffield and Hallamshire FA County Cup by Andrew Kirkham (A Soccer Data Publication).

Bookies aren’t renowned for giving money away or being overly generous with the odds.

But I reckon even the tightest of them might have offered enormously enticing figures should they have been asked about one particular bet prior to the current Test series between England and India.

Actually, no one would ever have considered such a bet. Had they done so, then the odds would have been in four figures. Consider that the top five in India’s batting order is, statistically, reckoned to be right up there as one of the most prolific ‘top fives’ of all time.

They were expected to score a shedload of runs. So, what were the odds, as we arrive at the final Test of the series, on one man (Alastair Cook) scoring more runs in a single innings (294) than India’s entire XI have managed in any of their six innings in the three Tests so far?

Bookies would have thought you were mad to even to ask for a price! Even longer odds than, a few years ago, if you’d have asked for the odds on England being the world’s No 1 Test team!