By Tony Incenzo
I have always loved visiting the Sheffield area for groundhopping purposes. One of my favourite memories from when I was a teenager travelling to all 92 Football League grounds was how magnificent the Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday home stadiums were.
Since then, I have ventured to several of the Non-League venues in and around the great Steel City. I really enjoyed seeing Sheffield FC at a couple of different grounds as they are recognised internationally by FIFA as the oldest existing club in the world still playing football.
Another fantastic trip was to Hallam FC who are listed by the Guinness Book of Records as having the oldest football ground in the world at Sandygate. So there is a lot of outstanding soccer history in the city and I set off with eager anticipation on my 300 mile round trip to Handsworth who are members of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
Where was it played?
Handsworth previously played on a grass pitch within the same complex at Olivers Mount. The original grandstand is still in place – albeit in a rundown and overgrown condition - but the old playing surface was being used as a car park on the day of my visit.
The football club moved 50 yards to a new 3G artificial playing surface which was opened a couple of years ago. This £700,000 pitch was financed with grants from the Football Foundation, Sheffield City Council and funds which the club raised themselves. The facility is also used by 500 schoolchildren every week so it is a real focal point for the local community.
This brings another benefit as there is a true pathway for young footballers to progress right the way through to the Handsworth first team. As for matchday spectators, there are two grandstands with 200 seats plus covered standing for another 100 or so fans.
Meanwhile from an aesthetics point of view, I was totally in awe of the large sign above the dug outs which dramatically read: “HANDSWORTH STADIUM…REAL FOOTBALL MADE IN SHEFFIELD”
What’s in the programme?
Entitled ‘AMBERS REVIEW’ to reflect the club colours. It is a lavish, eye-catching glossy production containing the club histories of both teams, the Handsworth manager’s and captain’s notes, pen pictures, a player interview, match reports and stats. Overall a fabulous read and excellent value at £1.50p for 32 pages.
And the match itself?
Handsworth gave a really good account on the pitch during this match and thoroughly deserved their victory courtesy of goals by Jack Harrison (30 minutes) and James Oliver (77 minutes).
Facts and figures
Score: Handsworth 2 Coventry United 0
Where: Express Worktops Stadium @ Olivers Mount, Handsworth Junior Sporting Club, Olivers Mount, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S9 4PA
You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo