Sheffield Clarets Chip their way to the Top
Many thanks to Burnley FC for use of photograph
Richard Tandy writes
'A depleted Sheffield Clarets supporters club walked on to the hallowed Turf at half time to take on the Soccer AM-inspired 'Pie & Chips` challenge. Preparation before the game was a bit limited. Dale didn`t practice and had already stated that if by the end he hadn`t scored that he would simply "belt it one". Barnsey had taken a couple of shots in the gym the night before, whilst I haven`t kicked a ball in anger in about two years. Our combined experience amounted to not much more than my six month old nieces, so I think it was safe to say that expectations were low with us agreeing before the game we`d be happy just to get one or two between us.
As we got on to the pitch our hopes and expectations were lowered further. Firstly our fourth man, Richard Timbers, was refused permission to the pitch from the upper tier of the James Hargreaves stand by an over zealous Steward. That left just three of us to stand in front of the pie and have our picture taken by the club photographer. Seeing us stood there like lemons, Bertie Bee took pity and came to stand with us to make up the numbers in the photograph. We then saw just how small the hole we`d be shooting at was, and how far away we`d be standing. Would 12,000 fans of Burnley and Sheffield origin be about to see a big fat zero scored for the first time? The odds weren`t exactly stacked in our favour.
Down on the pitch during Pie & Chips you don`t really notice the crowd, and neither do you have any real sense of time elapsed. But I do know that we made an 'indifferent` start. Dale hadn`t realised that the music had started and began in comical style by hitting the first shot from a point about three feet behind where the ball boy had already teed up a size four football ready to be spanked. Barnsey then exposed his feminine side for all to see and meekly pea-rolled a shot into the foot of the pie, whilst I powered one well wide. Lord only knows how much time we`d wasted with our speculative 'practice` shots, but once Dale had gotten off the mark there was no stopping us (or rather him). The big man had found his range. 1, 2, 3, 4, on and on he went. Barnsey chipped in with a couple of lovelies leaving just myself with none. But not for long. After steadily seeing my shots get closer to the small hole and even rattling the sides on a couple of occasions, I finally found my aim and in went my first soon followed by a second.
I became vaguely aware of the announcer stood next to us getting a little bit excited with his commentary, and the fans who were taking notice began cheering us on. "Ten!" the man with the microphone said. "Ten? How did that happen?" I pondered to myself. "Two more to equal the record!" he informed us and the crowd. One of us put the eleventh and twelfth away to go equal with the league leaders. But we weren`t done yet. I scored another to take my tally for the afternoon to a credible three and the Sheffield Clarets to thirteen, and Barnsey or Dale (sorry chaps, I can`t remember which one of you put the last in) got another to cement our place at the top of the leader board with fourteen goals. The music abruptly stopped and the Sheffield Clarets Express train was halted. The man with the mic confirmed our fourteen whilst we celebrated like loonies on the pitch. Various hands were shaken and Dale even got a hug from his hero Bertie Bee.
Of the goals scored; I got three (which, I should add, I am very pleased with), Barnsey chipped in with four, whilst Dale did just about OK (I guess) and got seven. Maybe we should have leant our shooting boots to Pato and Thommo for the second half.
Fourteen goals just about eclipsed our predictions and, fingers crossed, should see the Sheffield Clarets contingent once again grace the pitch at Turf Moor in the final of 'Pie & Chips` at the end of the season. Overall, a pleasing effort and an experience I hope to enjoy again at the end of the season.
The Sheffield Clarets were proudly represented by Martin 'The Barn Door Basher` Barnes, Dale 'Hitting a Cows Rump with a Banjo is my Speciality` Warrington, and Richard 'The Tandy Man Can` Tandy'.
Richard Tandy, The Big Claret