Town can take heart from the Blades – Carl Marston’s Travels with Town
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 120 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he spotlights Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane
Ipswich Town might be flying high, top of the table, but they are still a remarkable 39 places below Sheffield United in the Football League pyramid.
Town are on the up, at last, but they have some way to go to catch up with the Blades, who have emerged from some very lonely years in the wilderness, not only in the third tier but also one season in the Fourth Division (1981-82).
The South Yorkshire giants have now awoken from their slumbers, to such an extent that they have quickly become the surprise package of the Premier League.
Few people, even respected football pundits, would have given Sheffield United much hope of staying up in the top tier, following last season's promotion.
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But instead of facing up to a campaign of constant struggle to stay afloat, Chris Wilder's men find themselves in the top six!
They have more points than Tottenham, are four places above Manchester United, have amassed five points more than Everton, and have conceded less goals than Chelsea, Liverpool and even Manchester City.
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So for Town fans, there is genuine hope that one day Portman Road could again be hosting Premier League football, and pushing for the top six, even though that might seem but a distant dream, at present.
Take a leaf out of Sheffield United's book.
It can be done, especially when remembered that the Bramall Lane faithful were watching League One football themselves just over two years ago (promoted as League One champions in 2017).
Dare to dream.
- Club: Sheffield United
- Founded: 1889 (130 years ago)
- Ground: Bramall Lane
- Town's first visit: 1-1 draw on April 8, 1958
- Town's last visit: 2-0 away defeat on April 27, 2019.
- Town's overall record at Bramall Lane: P35 W8 D10 L17
Bramall Lane is steeped in history, not least because it is the oldest major football league ground, not just in the UK but in the world. That's some claim to fame.
Sheffield United, as a football club, was formed as an offshoot of Sheffield United Cricket Club.
The first cricket match played at Bramall Lane was in April, 1855, and Yorkshire CCC had its base here throughout the 19th century.
It even hosted a Test match against Australia in 1902, and was still used by Yorkshire CCC for a few matches each summer, until as late as 1973.
The first football match was between local rivals Hallam and Sheffield Club, in 1862, and Sheffield United have proudly played at Bramall Lane ever since its formation in 1889.
Everyone knows that Sheffield United's nickname is 'The Blades.' What is less publicised is that fiercest rivals, Sheffield Wednesday, used to be nicknamed The Blades, right up until their move to a new ground in Owlerton in 1907, when they assumed the new and current nickname of 'The Owls.'
Neighbours Sheffield United, who had spent their early years known as 'The Cutlers,' took up The Blades mantle from 1912.
Carl's experience/Town's visit
Tuesday, September 29, 2009: Sheffield United 3 Ipswich Town 3:
I have been to Bramall Lane on many occasions, but one visit sticks out - an autumn evening six-goal thriller from 10 years ago.
Football can be such a cruel game, and it certainly was to Roy Keane's men that night.
Having played so well, and looking on course for an elusive first win of the season from 10 attempts, Town were nursing a 3-2 lead going into stoppage time.
Then up popped Blades skipper Chris Morgan to poach a dramatic late equaliser, bundling home after Richard Wright had failed to gather a corner.
It was a heart-breaking end to a topsy-turvy encounter that had me struggling to fit everything into my match report for the following morning's newspaper.
Despite conceding an early goal to Darius Henderson, Town stormed back with three unanswered goals from Jon Walters (cheeky back-heel), Grant Leadbitter (20-yard daisy cutter) and Gareth McAuley (header).
But it all went wrong after that. Leading 2-1, with 12 minutes to go, Keane's side ended up drawing 3-3 and so finishing the night at the foot of the Championship table.
"It should have been three points. We again came close, but not close enough. We're just not getting the rub of the green," rued Keane.
I agreed, but then I always found it best to agree with Mr Keane!