16th March: The end of an era approaches

We all will have an opinion on old v new stadiums and as I write I’m thinking across our respective teams and wondering if any of them have moved out of their now traditional homes to any new purpose built stadium. A new St James’ Park perhaps, new Anfield, a new Bramall Lane (see I made no joke), a new Elland Road, a new Hillsborough…how would we all feel if that was to happen?

But that is what we face…our final ‘season’ in effect in our grand old lady of a stadium. Our final few games to say goodbye to the crumbling façade, the leaky roof, the table or pile of mats across where the panel should be onto the court, the nets that don’t fit the frames of the goal, the teams on before us who are also ‘5 minutes late on’, the missing slats behind the Whites’ net, the patch of court stained with Angry Mick’s head injury, the play pen in the far corner for all my toys.

It’s true guys, the ink is now drying, the deed has been done, we are moving: after 20 odd years of playing at Hillsborough Sports Centre our time is coming to an end. We have a few short weeks before we have a new home…at Hillsborough College….and a bigger pitch (will it suit the younger, spritier, fitter ones or the ball players, the space finders more), more pitch time (an hour instead of three quarters…time to use our brains and pace the games), and a choice of goals (do we go for the traditional long and thin 5 a side goals or the new style tall and square futsball ones….and with it perhaps a change in rule, do we bring in overhead high?)…and cheaper, and with less notice having to be given. Yes sometimes progress can be good.

It’s a whole new world awaiting us! Exciting, foreign…but before we get there we must see out the old lady of Hillsborough Sports Centre with pride. After three washed out weeks of only friendlies surely it is time for us to get back in the groove of competitive games?!?!?!?!?!?!!

Surely it is time for the Whites to challenge the Darks again: it is still 4-1 in games to the Darks, 4-4 in World Series. A reminder of the series thus far….after the 8th Series was won with such aplomb by the Whites with a mix of power and poise, speed and brilliance, the Darks have fought back with performances heavy at times in pure stubborn grit, counter attacking with precision from a solid defensive base, performances that display the hurt inflicted by the last series defeat. I’m finding this series fascinating, tense, almost tetchy. It’s on a knife edge. There’s key injuries and absences filtering through into both teams already that could change the horizon dramatically each week, new players making their mark, old hands finding form, losing form: surely its time for another dramatic battle…come on, who’s up for it this week?

I know I am.

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