Sez Les: Blades programme from the deep freeze!

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IT was a television programme on the Big Freeze (their capitals) of 1963 that prompted me to think ... I’ve got this football programme somewhere.

Now this recent cold snap hardly constitutes anywhere close to even a biggish freeze and certainly nothing comparable to the ’63 one and, not least, the effect it had on football.

The programme I eventually dug out is the one whose front cover - and a pretty unusual one it is - appears within this column.

It’s the one for Sheffield United’s FA Cup third round tie with Bolton Wanderers which was scheduled for Saturday, January 5, 1963.

What is unusual about the cover is that over six weeks later, with the freezing weather having prevented that tie and most others from being played, the club decided to print across the front cover of the originals which never got sold, an explanation ready for the night they did expect to play.

It reads: “After many postponements due to unprecedented winter conditions, match finally played Wednesday, February 20, 1963, kick-off 7.15.”

Except, it didn’t get played that night. It was frozen off then as well.

The Blades and Bolton didn’t finally play the tie until March 6, two months after it originally should have been played.

As a young teenager then, I’d be off anywhere for a game, particularly a night match at either of the city clubs.

I must have gone to the tie when it was eventually played on March 6 and obviously decided to keep the programme. Perhaps because of the unusual front cover.

I certainly know that I wouldn’t have been there had it been played on February 20. Why? Because of a delayed Christmas tea!

Tradition dictated that Boxing Day was a family tea either at ours or an aunty’s with the ‘return leg’ the next available Saturday.

The Big Freeze dictated the ‘Christmas’ visit was long delayed and when it eventually took place I well recall that, during the early evening, television reported some football results and my team, Rotherham United, had lost their much-postponed third-round tie 2-0 at Watford.

I looked up the date yesterday. It was played on February 20.

Incidentally, for any Blades fans interested, United beat Bolton 3-1.

Talking of taking myself off anywhere for a game, a stat raised by my colleague Paul Thompson this week caught my eye.

Wednesday’s goalless draw with Wolves meant that Wolves had not lost on their last 15 visits to Hillsborough going back to the 60s.

I thought of a game then and pondered “it couldn’t be could it?” It nearly was.

One of my earliest visits to Hillsborough was seeing Wednesday beat Wolves 5-0 in November 1963.

What sticks out in my mind most is what I saw the next day.

The Sunday People was (I believe) the only paper at the time to mark players out of 10.

No one ever got 10 but they gave Wednesday’s Colin Dobson a perfect score.

What puzzled the young me, however, was this. The star player for Wolves, with an 8, was Ron Flowers - who was the man supposedly marking Dobson!

Yes, it puzzled me then and I’ve never much trusted marks out of ten ever since!

But that 5-0 win wasn’t quite Wednesday’s last home win over the old gold. That came the following year, 1964, a 2-0 victory.

Dobson scored but don’t ask me what mark he got the next day!

So, the Capital One Cup didn’t really capture your imagination did it when your club started out in it last August?

No, thought not. Those early rounds a drag eh? Better off out of it then?

Try telling that now to either Bradford City or Swansea as both these unlikely finalists prepare for their day in the Wembley sun (winter version) on February 24.

Bradford’s success is arguably the story of the season.