A Sports Fanatic’s Sheffield

A Sheffield website www.artfullodger.co.uk advertised in October, 2006 that they needed articles to bolster Sheffield’s tourism. They initially asked for ideas. I suggested that I could prepare an article “A Sports Fanatic’s Sheffield” which would include introduction of Sheffield’s sports teams of various disciplines.

The idea was accepted and I sent the following piece (with photographs) which was very much appreciated.

The city of Sheffield is very well equipped to welcome a sports buff, new to the city. The town has a great sports culture and boasts top teams of almost all the major disciplines.

SOCCER

Let us start from the most popular sport of the globe. Sheffield has not one but two top league teams. Sheffield United (popularly called Blades) had a memorable last season which saw them promoted to the highest echelon of English soccer – the Premier League. The achievement was widely celebrated by the entire city. This also means that all the top names of English soccer like Chelsea, Manchester United, among others will be seen in action at the magnificent stadium at Bramall lane ( hardly 10 minutes walk from the train station) with a capacity of more than 30,000.

The Blades have a very fine website www.sufc.co.uk which contains the latest news as well as the info regarding match schedule, tickets, etc.

At the other end of the city, Hillsborough houses Sheffield Wednesday, the other great side of the town. Owls (as they are popularly called) are presently in the Championship, the second tier of English soccer.

Last season, almost the whole town had come to a standstill at the time of the two steel city derby games between the Blades and the Owls. Such is the rivalry!

Sheffield Wednesday’s website www.swfc.co.uk has all the details regarding match schedules and tickets.

Both these sides have a lot of international flavour and their roster not only has players from other European countries but also from as far as China and Barbados.

Sheffield United v Middlesbrough

Sheffield United’s Leigertwood jumping over an opponent in Blades victory over Middlesbrough this season in the Premier League at Bramall lane

The city also has the honour to have world’s oldest football club. Founded in 1857, Sheffield Football Club commonly referred to as simply Sheffield FC is a non-professional football club and currently plays in the Northern Premier League Division One South. It has been recognised by FIFA as the oldest football club now playing Association Football.

RUGBY LEAGUE

The promotion story of Sheffield teams is not restricted to soccer. Rugby league side, Sheffield Eagles have just won the National League 2 play off final on the 8th of October. Thus they join the National League 1 (tier two competition) for the next season, beginning early next year. The Eagles are a star studded outfit with several internationals from home countries and also from other major rugby powers like Australia and Fiji.

Having achieved the promotion, they expect to bolster their roster with more stars. Home games are at Don Valley stadium which is close to Meadow hall, one of the biggest shopping malls of the country.

For information about fixtures/schedules and tickets www.sheffield-rlfc.co.uk

sheffield_eagles

Eagles celebrating!

ICE HOCKEY

For those of you, especially from North America or Northern Europe, favouring rink over the grassy pitch, Sheffield provides great attraction.

Sheffield Steelers is in the top 10 team “Elite” league of the UK. The Steelers have players not only from the European bastions of the sport like Scandinavian countries, Czech Republic , etc. but even from the USA and Canada.

They play at the magnificent Hallam FM arena which has one of the biggest capacities (over 7,000) for any ice hockey stadium in the country. The venue is again close to Meadow hall and also to Don Valley Stadium.

Web site: www.sheffieldsteelers.co.uk

BASKETBALL

Sheffield is lucky in this game also. Their team ‘Sharks’ is a part of the top tier 10 clubs’ British Basketball league (BBL). The championship runs from September to May.

Like NBA, the clubs operate on franchise basis with no relegation from the premier division.

Currently the Sharks have as many as three Americans, apart from three English internationals.

Their home turf is at the English Institute of Sports and web site: www.westfieldsharks.com

SNOOKER

Sheffield is presently called the Home of Snooker. During the World Championships last year, it was announced that the World Championships would remain at city’s Crucible Theatre (right in the heart of the city centre) for at least next five years. This year was the first year of a five year deal.

Work also started this year on the creation of World Snooker Academy within English Institute of Sport – Sheffield (EISS). Funded by the Yorkshire Forward, the Academy will be home to the elite snooker players who will get coaching at the facility. It will also stage qualifying rounds of major professional competitions. The Academy was in fact incorporated into Sheffield’s successful bid to retain the 888.com World Snooker Championship for the next five years at the Crucible Theatre.

The first recorded competition in Sheffield was the Sheffield Open Snooker Championship, in 1924. Hence it preceded the World Championships by three years. The competition has been held every year since then, apart from the war years. It is one of the oldest continuous snooker tournaments in the world, possibly the oldest.

It was in 1977 that the World Snooker Championships moved to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, and the BBC started providing major television coverage. The Crucible provides a unique atmosphere to the tournament, both for the spectators and the live television viewers. The venue seats a little fewer than a thousand people with the front row of seats only a few feet from the players. This was about the time snooker started attracting very large television audiences, and The Crucible became synonymous with snooker.

OTHER SPORTS

Sheffield also hosts major sporting events at two gigantic indoor arenas:

  1. English Institute of Sports (www.eis-sheffield.co.uk)

In addition to ‘Sharks’ home games, this season EIS is home to

  • International Futsal game between England and France
  • National athletics meets
  • National judo championships
  • Badminton national juniors
  1. Ponds Forge International Sports Centre (www.ponds-forge.co.uk)
  • International Bowling
  • Swimming championships
  • Karate
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