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Bramall Lane
Sheffield United v
AFC Bournemouth
  League One
  Saturday, April 7th, 2012, 3pm
Myles Munsey
(Neutral supporter)

Reasons for visit:
The oldest professional sports ground in the world they kept telling me. But aside from that a chance to go to an historic ground was too good to miss.

Getting there:
From my base in Macclesfield an easy and scenic hour long train ride along the Hope Valley to Sheffield. Once there the ground was easy to find. Just follow the red and white. It took around 20 mins at a leisurely pace.
Before the game:
Arriving at the ground early at around 1.30pm I had loads of time to look round.  Once again it was a pleasure to speak to the home fans that seemed a knowledgeable bunch. One gentleman kindly reminded me that I was standing on Yorkshire’s cricket pitch –at least I would have been had they not dug it up!

A ticket was purchased from the ticket office and being a category C game was only £13 which I thought was very reasonable for LeagueOne. In truth I was expecting to pay a lot more.

Outside the ticket office and fashioned into a grass bank was a memorial garden dedicated to Blades followers who have passed away. This is something have not encountered before. A nice touch. Out of respect I spent a few minutes there in quiet contemplation. 
First impressions:
As you come up Shoreham Street the ground looms large above you and the huge corrugated iron shed that is the Kop end is impressive. This is where I sat. These large ‘cowsheds’ used to be quite common but more modern construction of course now hold sway. ‘It needs some paint on it’ I thought because it seems to have faded somewhat but is still a striking stand all the same.

I needed the toilets and these were a bit disappointing. Brick built, basic with freezing water and rudimentary paper towel dispensers.  I did like the big stairways with handrails up to the top of the stand. That is a feature which does take me back.

Also showing my age here I warmed to the pre-match music which included;

Let’s spend the night together (Rolling Stones)
Keep on running (Dave Clark 5)

And then of all the strange things………….the teams came out to Samuel Barber’s Adagio with strings. Lovely music but why?

This was then followed by the Greasy Chip butty song. That at least was explained to me!

The game:
With Sheffield Wednesday winning their lunchtime encounter 2-0 against Huddersfield, United need to keep the pressure up on the blue half of the steel city with three more points.

A well taken goal by Ched Evans (who else) and an opportunist (lets poke the ball in whilst I’m sat on my backside) effort  from Richard Cresswell seemed to have wrapped up the points until Bournemouth grabbed a goal back in bizarre circumstances after Zamon Hines intercepted a throw out by the keeper and walked the ball into an empty net.  After furious protests the goal stood.

The Blades saw out the last 20 minutes – not altogether comfortably at times – to gain the prized three points. 

Getting away
As I had requested an aisle set getting out was easy and I was back in Sheffield Station for 10 past five.

Overall thoughts:
As a modern stadium it was comfortable with a good atmosphere and everything was very well organised. Good fans and friendly stewards. No offence, but apart from the memorial garden (which is to be 100% commended) and obligatory statues of former players there seemed little to distinguish it from other contemporary venues.

But please let none of this put you off because if you go to Bramall Lane you will be well looked after.

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