SEZ LES: Les Payne’s column on the sporting world

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IS the football team group at the top of this column the oldest Sheffield football team picture out there?

Football historian and sociologist Graham Curry thinks it is and may be the oldest team group anywhere (other than school or university) - and he’s certainly done plenty of research!

The picture has been published before but, Graham says, never previously identified. He has now done so and dated it as well.

It was taken on Saturday, November 20, 1875 and is of the Sheffield FA team (Sheffield and Hallamshire FA didn’t appear until 1887).

It was before a game against the Birmingham FA at Bramall Lane. He reckons it was possibly the Birmingham FA’s first ever game as they were formed that year.

Anyway, Sheffield FA won it 6-0 in front of a crowd of 2,000 and a guy called Orton got a hat-trick. For some strange reason the kick off was at 3.10pm. So, funny kick-off times aren’t the preserve of Sky tv then!

Graham has identified on the photo such Sheffield footballing luminaries as the Clegg brothers, WE and JC Clegg, both hugely influential in this city’s birth as a footballing power.

And he notes too that a player called J Hunt has had the end of his name chopped off. He was J Hunter and later went to Blackburn Olympic, a leading side of the time, and quite possibly for money. He was in the Blackburn side which won the FA Cup.

Sheffield FA had been formed in 1867, ten years after the world’s first club Sheffield FC.

The shirts are said to be scarlet which was the colour of Sheffield FC’s shirts at the time.

Graham, who lives at Retford, did a PhD on football in 2001 and has written various articles since.

He also puts a plea out there to see if anyone has an older team photo than that one. And would certainly like to hear from anyone who has similar pictures prior to 1885 - “they need to be prior to then to be out of the ordinary,” he says.

* FOR those who like their football a touch unusual, has Sheffield Wednesday player Jeremy Helan got his own special place among football’s quirks?

Well, everyone knows he’s the player who got two yellows cards but didn’t get sent off.

He’s also served a suspension in a game he wouldn’t have played in anyway!

Helan was the player ref Mike Russell meant to book twice in the Owls’ game at Huddersfield at the end of December. Instead, of course, he wrongly put Michail Antonio’s number down for the first booking.

When Helan’s second booking arrived, he then stayed on amidst much confusion.

It should have been sorted before Wednesday’s next game three days later on New Year’s Day but the wheels of the FA and referee’s reports etc., couldn’t be turned round on the only working day available, ie New Year’s Eve, so Helan was clear to play against Burnley.

So, when it was then all sorted, he was given the statutory one-match ban to take effect for last Saturday’s FA Cup tie against MK Dons.

Except that Helan was ineligible anyway for that game. He’d played for Shrewsbury in the first round of the competition.

So, two bookings and he stays on. A ban for a game he wouldn’t have played in anyway. Lucky lad.