Chipping Bad Day for Sheffield Clarets
The excitement mounted for the biennial Sheffield Clarets attempt to chip some balls into a huge pile of saturated fat at half time during the Reading debacle, and a belated defence of our crown at that!
The contestants this year were CrosspoolClarets, BigClaret, WTBM, dad-of-big, wife-of-crosspool and Howard, who either doesn`t have a code name or keeps it very secret!!
Learning from Timbers` example 2 years ago when they fortunately didn`t let him down (allowing the other three to hoover up) we approached a head steward and made sure we were going to get permission to go down to the pitch at half time.
Trouble was, when it came to it the stewards didn`t have a clue what to do and who had authority, we had to escort them around the pitch rather than the other way around!! God help us if there is a really serious incident to deal with! But in due course we arrived at the pie and had a chat with the employees from the gym who were dealing with proceedings.
One thing that was essential was a bend over and a fondle (Oy! Stop thinking that!) of the playing surface, my it felt fantastic! I tried to pull up one or two bits of grass and it was solid, me thinks the problems with our pitch are well and truly over! Our entrance was delayed because there was a big presentation to some army guys, which all those on the pitch joined in clapping, except Pato and William Wallace who seemed to be doing handstands at the time…..one thing I would say was that when you are on the pitch you can hardly hear the tannoy, which is deafening in the stands but could just be made out on the pitch. That seemed very bizarre and added to the surreal experience. Also, when you are "in the zone" and ready for proceedings to take off without you making an arse of yourself, it`s amazing how much you blot from your mind.
The thought of being watched by 10,000 people didn`t occur, they seemed a long way away, nor the knowledge that all our subs would be watching and laughing too! The only bit I was rattled about was that the promised size 4 balls with which we practiced were actually a mixture of green size 3 and white size 4. I said to the organisers, what the heck is going on, you don`t get white peas unless they`ve gone off in the fridge, they said they had run out and couldn`t get size 3 balls anywhere let alone green ones. Good grief I said, we`re a multi million pound ex Premier League club and we can`t buy 10 size 3 balls. Somehow, I shouldn`t have been surprised!!
Running late due to the army presentation, the players were beginning to gather in the tunnel, and Darren Bentley ran over to get the PA guy to get a move on. We told the players to hold their horses, after that shambles in the first half the crowd needed some proper entertainment! Big bullied his way to the front of the queue, a vote of confidence that wasn`t misplaced, we were very organised and the six of us had a steadily rotating system to maximise the number of shots. Big got three goals. After about 4 near misses, or "hit the bar, after 15 years of not kicking a ball, I got one in! Wife of Crosspool hadn`t kicked a ball in anger ever, and didn`t disgrace with many close attempts, but sadly no cigar. Dad of Big and Howard both failed to trouble the scorers, as did WTBM - who as one of the defending champions and regular footie player let the team down with a handsome score of zilch!! Still, excuses were in early….."I forgot my bloody trainers" he was saying on arrival at the ground!
Not a bad effort, 4 goals, won`t win this time, but in truth having six players was a big disadvantage because you don`t get enough efforts to get your rhythm up, probably just six each whereas last time the guys would have had about 12. Another disadvantage was that the balls were sitting randomly and unless you looked up on the run up to see the hole, you couldn`t be that precise as the hole seemed a different place each time! A great effort and good fun though, nobody disgraced (even WTBM, jokes aside!). A good laugh, thanks to Dale for organising, and just enough time for me to fall on my arse in front of 10,000 people as I tried to run back to the Longside and tripped on the wet step! It was one of those days!
Vital Burnley wish to thank Burnley FC for the use of the photograph