During a twenty-five-year managerial career, Danny’s teams have won trophies, promotions, and celebrated last-gasp relegation escapes. Danny managed over a thousand games for Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City, Milton Keynes, Hartlepool United, Swindon Town, Sheffield United, and Chesterfield. Prior to that he had an extensive playing career, pulling on the shirt for Wigan Athletic, Bury, Chesterfield, Nottingham Forest, Scunthorpe United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Luton Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, as well as representing Northern Ireland.

A popular character wherever he went, Danny’s journey is littered with hilarious stories of some of the game’s biggest names, including Brian Clough, Ron Atkinson, Viv Anderson, Chris Woods, Jimmy Case, Mick Harford, and Steve Foster.

I Get Knocked Down is a truly fascinating insight into the life of a true football man,

(Publisher: Morgan Lawrence Publishing Services. October 2022. Paperback: 256 pages)

Book Review – Regrets of a Football Maverick: The Terry Curran Autobiography by Terry Curran with John Brindley

Thanks to the internet, information about players from the past are available after a quick search. For instance Sheffield Wednesday fans of a certain vintage looking for Terry Curran (voted The Owls all-time Cult Hero in a poll run by the BBC), on Wikipedia will find his entry tells us that his professional playing career lasted from 1973 through to 1986, taking in sixteen clubs (including loans) here in England, as well as brief sojourns in Sweden and Greece. Whilst this is useful to an extent in a factual sense, these figures do nothing to provide a detailed picture of the man and his career, and instead raises questions such as why Curran played for so many Clubs, how did he come to play for both Sheffield teams, and what was his relationship with some of the big management names at the time, such as Brian Clough, Jack Charlton, Tommy Docherty and Howard Kendall.

These questions and more are answered in Curran’s 2012 autobiography, Regrets of a Football Maverick. The title itself is telling, with the immediate suggestion to readers that this look back on his career and life has made Curran reflect and so question some of the things he did, given that during his playing career he was a forthright and confident individual, not afraid to say his piece.

One thing to say straight away is that this is a tale from the 1970s and 80s when football and indeed society was very different to that today and as the dustjacket warns (slightly tongue-in-cheek), “Terry Curran’s story may offend the politically correct!”.

In terms of the content of the book, it follows a fairly traditional timeline, with the opening chapter dedicated to Curran’s childhood growing up in Kinsley, a village in West Yorkshire, about eight miles southeast of Wakefield. Immediately within this opening to the book, readers are provided with an insight into an event that was to impact Curran significantly. When he was just eight years old, his parents split with his mother leaving the family home. As Curran writes in the book, “emotionally I was never the same kid…Dad was heart-broken and that had a big influence on me.” This resulted in him stating that, he was “never going to allow any female to get close enough to cause me the same upset. That lack of trust stayed with me for a lot of my adult life” and goes some way to explaining why he was a self-confessed womaniser during his playing career.

The opening chapter also details how Curran came to support Sheffield Wednesday, after being hooked despite The Owls giving up a two-goal lead against Everton in the 1966 FA Cup Final. Readers also get to read about Curran’s youth career playing representative football for the South Kirby Boys District team and for Kinsley Boys which led to offers from league clubs Halifax Town and Doncaster Rovers. Curran opted for Donny given its close proximity to home and his talent was rewarded when manager Maurice Setters offered him a professional contract.

Curran made his debut for Rovers on Saturday 29 September 1973 away at Gillingham, with Doncaster losing 5-1, with a highlight during that season, playing against Liverpool in the FA Cup Third Round replay (the Merseysiders went on to lift the trophy). He was making a name for himself in more ways than one, with the Club mistakenly detailing Curran to the press as ‘Terry’ despite him being christened ‘Edward.’ Clubs were expressing interest in the promising young winger with then First Division clubs, Leeds United, Everton and Sheffield United all apparently keen to sign him. However, it was to be beside the River Trent that Curran opted for and a move to Nottingham Forest and manager Brian Clough in August 1975, then languishing in the Second Division. At the time Curran, saw it as, “a chance to play for one of the game’s greatest managers.”

Programme: Fulham v Nottingham Forest 1976/77

Curran devotes a whole chapter to his time at Forest, with his admiration for Clough and his unique style of management evident. Take Curran’s introduction to the rest of the Reds squad, with Clough telling Martin O’Neill, “I’d like to introduce you to the young man who will be taking your place on Saturday.” Curran’s second season at Forest was the 1976/77 campaign, which opened with a fixture at Craven Cottage to play Fulham. The game ended 2-2 with Curran scoring what he considers to be his best ever goal – “picking the ball up on the halfway line, I beat four defenders before lobbing the ball high into the net high beyond goalkeeper Richard Teale.” George Best (who was a football hero for Curran) was in the crowd that day having signed for the SW6 Club and said, “I was really impressed. He (Curran) is a very good player.” That season was to see Forest gain promotion to the top flight, but Curran was to miss a significant part of it with a cruciate ligament injury suffered in October 1976. Having worked his way back into the side in March, the relationship at Forest began to break down with Curran dropped from the team in the run-in and little playing time at the start of the 1977/78 season as the Club took the First Division by storm to finish the campaign as Champions. By the time the title was being lifted at the City Ground, Curran was at Derby County under the watch of Tommy Docherty.

As Forest went onto be European Champions twice and win numerous other domestic trophies under Clough and Taylor it was a case of what have been for Curran. If he had got his head down and waited and remained injury-free, who is to say he might have got a regular place in the side. As Curran reflects, “If only I could have put an older head on my young shoulders. I turned my back on one of the most successful sides of that generation – any generation.”

Curran’s stay at the Baseball Ground was a brief one with 26 appearances and two goals for The Rams and acknowledged, “I didn’t play as consistently well as I know I could have.” Curran’s main other observation from his time at Deby was that “I don’t think Tommy (Docherty) adjusted to the culture shock of…the real world at Derby after being a constant source of national attention at Old Trafford.” So as the 1978/79 campaign started, Curran swapped the East Midlands for Hampshire at Lawrie McMenemy’s Southampton in what was to prove another one season stay.

Programme 1978-79 League Cup Final

It was both a positive and negative experience. On the one-hand it saw Curran make his one and only appearance in a Final at Wembley, as the Saints lost to Forest 3-2, and strike up a great friendship with 1966 World Cup winner, Alan Ball, but on the other, witnessed a difficult relationship with the Southampton boss. Curran’s criticism was centred on McMenemy’s inability to motivate the dressing room and over-reliance on the senior players within the squad which was detrimental to the younger Saint talent. It was also at Southampton that Curran first encountered cortisone injections to deal with pain in his right leg. Like many other players at the time, they were in common use, and it was only years later that the consequences for ex-players has come to light with the overuse of the treatment.

Curran’s beginning of the end at The Dell comes about in strange circumstances. With Southampton having just beaten Leeds United in the League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg, and whilst out celebrating, Curran is ‘approached’ by Jack Charlton who was then manager of Sheffield Wednesday to drop down two divisions to play at Hillsborough. Despite McMenemy’s plans to make some money out of a deal to send Curran to play football in the United States, in March 1979 The Owls signed Curran.

Programme: The Boxing Day Massacre 1979/80

Given that the blue and white of Wednesday had run through Curran’s veins since he was a young boy perhaps it is no shock that his time in S6 was the happiest of his career. During his stint at the Club he helped them to promotion from the Third Division in the 1979/80 campaign, finishing with 24 league goals and claiming the Divisional Golden Boot Award. One game stands out from that season, a performance that went a long way to giving Curran his Cult-hero status at Hillsborough – the ‘Boxing Day Massacre’ as he destroyed Sheffield United 4-0 in front of a third-tier record gate of 49,309. In the following season Wednesday looked good going into the final part of the campaign for a real tilt at promotion to the top flight, but fell away, with Curran critical of Jack Charlton’s lack of spending in the transfer market. Their relationship continued to be fractious with an infamous scrap between them in the Club gym a sign of the different ways the men view how the game should be played. It came to a head when Curran’s three year deal at Wednesday ended, with the management refusing to meet the new contract demands. Out of the blue, Wednesday’s cross-city rivals Sheffield United came in for Curran, who admits that for the first time in his career he moved for the money.

It proved to be a short and pretty unhappy stay at Bramall Lane, with Curran unimpressed by the coaching and training at the Club and both sets of fans in Sheffield less than enamoured with the maverick winger. Salvation came with a loan spell to First Division Everton during the 1982/83 season. This was made permanent in the following campaign, but once again Curran’s luck was out, picking up an injury in September 1983 that kept him out of the game until April 1984. Having worked his way back to fitness and playing in the FA Cup Semi-Final win over Southampton, the Twin Towers beckoned for Curran. However, three weeks before the Final, he suffered a hamstring injury and with it went any chance of an appearance in an FA Cup Final. Everton were becoming a force and in 1984/85 went onto to become First Division winners. Curran played enough games to earn a medal, but once again his emotional nature landed him in serious trouble and an exit from Goodison Park.

With injuries ahead of a European Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final First Leg in Munich, Curran believed his chances of starting the game were good but wanted this confirmed in training. Howard Kendall said he wouldn’t make a decision until shortly before kick-off, so Curran decided that he wasn’t prepared to go to the airport and travel with the squad. He was never selected in the starting line-up or on the bench again. As Curran reflects, “a crazy decision had once again sealed my exit from a great football club, and I was the obvious loser.” Left with no real option, Curran asked for a free transfer and for the 1985/86 season found himself back in Yorkshire at Huddersfield Town.

This move was effectively the beginning of the end of Curran’s career, with injuries taking a toll on his ability to play week-in, week-out. Despite that he managed seven goals in just over thirty appearances for The Terriers. Retirement though beckoned and over the next few years (1986 – 1989) Curran played for seven clubs (Panionios [Greece], Hull City, Sunderland, Grantham Town, Grimsby Town, Chesterfield and Goole Town) but only making a handful of appearances for each. Whilst at Goole he also managed the team, with fate once again proving unkind to Curran, as the financial position of the Club collapsed leading to the eventual demise of Goole Town. He then tried his hand with Mossley in 1992/93, but it proved to another difficult and brief spell in the dug-out with seven defeats in seven games and inevitably the sack.

At that point Curran walked away from football and went into business. Once again like his football career, he seems to have had more than his fair share of back luck, with a lucrative land sale becoming complicated and ending in a protracted legal case. Back in 2012 when the book was written, Curran was living a more settled life with partner Lynne and two sons, Tom and Jock and had done his coaching badges and was working at the Doncaster Rovers Centre Excellence.

For all the tales of on and off-field shenanigans, fall-outs, goals and girls, there is a serious side to this book. And Curran talks with honesty and openness about the mistakes he made in his playing career and in his personal life, and the implications of his series of injuries and his tempestuous and at times impetuous nature. The reality is that it takes courage and strength to admit when we are wrong and even more to put it into print and make it public.

Therefore the final word should go to Curran himself. “I was supposed to be the rebel who played as if tomorrow didn’t exist. The truth was…that I underachieved. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I not suffered that terrible injury at Forest and if I’d stayed injury-free when I got my last big chance in the game at Everton. But mostly I got it wrong myself. I picked too many arguments, ruffled too many feathers and took too many wrong turnings.”


(Publisher: Vertical Editions. October 2012. Hardcover: 272 pages)


Buy the book here: Terry Curran – Regrets of a Football Maverick

Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

“GIMME THE BALL”: MY TAKE ON THE BEAUTIFUL GAME by Terry Curran with John Brindley

From watching Sheffield Wednesday and England in the golden year of 1966 to football in the age of Covid 19, Owls idol Terry Curran shoots from the hip as he explores the good, bad and ugly sides of the ‘beautiful game’.

He introduces you to ‘greats’ George Best, Alan Ball and Brian Clough who inspired his own exciting and unpredictable career and reveals his explosive but close relationship with Jack Charlton.

From rock bottom Doncaster Rovers to First Division champions Everton, TC lit up the game with his blistering pace and appetite for the unexpected. Yet his heart was always with The Owls whose rise and fall he writes of as a fan as well as a never-to-be-forgotten player.

A footballer, who always did things his way, TC’s views on modern day football are also ‘out of the box’. He explains why coaching methods have left his club and country behind the times – and calls for radical change.

There’s humour and slapstick from one of football’s great characters who refuses to compromise the principles he learnt playing for Clough’s Forest. Warning: If you pick up this book you won’t want to put it down!

(Publisher: Morgan Lawrence Publishing Services. September 2021. Paperback: 250 pages)

Follow on Twitter Terry Curran Official (@terrycurran_11) / Twitter

REGRETS OF A FOOTBALL MAVERICK: The Terry Curran Autobiography

Terry Curran’s confessional is a no holds barred tale of football guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of fans who remember the game’s golden age of Cloughie, Tommy Docherty, Lawrie McMenemy, Jack Charlton and Howard Kendall.

Sheffield Wednesday’s all-time cult hero opens his heart about football in the 1970s and 80s, with great off-field tales to make your hair curl. Brilliant and unpredictable on the pitch, argumentative and hot headed off it, Terry Curran thrilled and entertained, leaving great and unusual memories. Yet in Regrets of a Football Maverick he reveals how his contentious nature caused him to miss out on his destiny.

Highlights include learning from Cloughie, being a saint and a sinner with England World Cup hero Alan Ball, the Boxing Day Massacre and doing a Carlos Tevez at Everton. Terry’s story will transport you back to an era of great games, goals and girls – but not necessarily in that order.

WARNING: Terry Curran’s story may offend the politically correct!

(Publisher: Vertical Editions. October 2012. Hardback: 272 pages)

Read our review here: Regrets of a Football Maverick

Follow on Twitter Terry Curran Official (@terrycurran_11) / Twitter


John Harris’s arrival at Bramall Lane laid the foundations for the appearance of some of the greatest players in Sheffield United’s history. In his second full season in charge, the Blades were promoted back to the First Division.

Ain’t Got a Barrel of Money is the story of Harris and those who came after him, building a team that would challenge for a place in Europe, the decline that followed and the inevitable sale of many of the club’s finest players.

In 1975, they finished sixth in Division One, playing some of the most exciting football in the country. Currie, Woodward, Colquhoun, Speight, Hemsley and Badger were all household names. But within six years Sheffield United had gone from the brink of greatness to the ultimate humiliation – relegation to the Fourth Division, for the first and only time in the club’s wonderful history.

Filled with anecdotes and memories from many of those who were there, both on the field and on the terraces, this book captures the highs and lows of being a Sheffield United fan.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. February 2022. Hardcover: 224 pages)

Book Review: Imperfect 10: The Man Behind the Magic by Tony Currie with Andy Pack

In June 1976 Tony Currie left Sheffield United to join Leeds United, ending an eight-year association with the Bramall Lane club. It says much about the talent, esteem and regard of the player during his time in the red and white part of the Steel City, that 38 years later, in September 2014, as part of the club’s 125th Anniversary celebrations, ‘TC’ as he was affectionally nicknamed by the Blades faithful, was named Sheffield United’s Greatest Ever Player. Indeed, at the other two clubs where he played the majority of his career, Leeds United and QPR, Currie was also a fans favourite, one of a creative generation of players such as, Stan Bowles, Charlie George, Alan Hudson, Rodney Marsh, Duncan McKenzie and Frank Worthington, who entertained the footballing public during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Imperfect 10: The Man Behind the Magic, by Currie and former Sheffield United media manager Tony Pack, tells the story of the Blades legend both on and off the pitch. The book title is in itself interesting to analyse, with it reflecting the contrast of Currie the player and his flamboyant on-field persona and that of his shyness and struggles away from playing and in his domestic life. Quite simply, the perfect No: 10 (the numbered shirt most associated with Currie’s playing days) on the field, but an imperfect character away from it.

In terms of the football side of the book, readers are taken through Currie’s career from being released as an apprentice at Chelsea, and his first professional contract at Watford in 1967, to his final days in a brief stint as player/manager at non-league Goole Town in 1987, taking in Watford, Sheffield United, Leeds United, QPR, as well as his 13 England U23 appearances and 17 full International caps.

That Currie was most comfortable on the pitch, is readily apparent as he recalls his playing time with warmth, acknowledging and praising many of those that he played alongside. Indeed, his only real criticism of anybody within the game, is reserved for ex-Leeds United and England manager, the late Don Revie. Currie was very much part of Sir Alf Ramsey’s final squads, including playing in the infamous 1-1 draw with Poland at Wembley in 1973 which saw England fail to qualify for the 1974 Worlds Cup Finals. However, when Revie took charge of the Three Lions, flair players such as Currie were very much marginalised, with organisation, and work-rate favoured by the manager, meaning Currie earned just a solitary cap under Revie. However, with Ron Greenwood’s appointment in 1977, Currie returned to the fold, appearing ten times, including a standout performance in a 1-1 draw against Brazil in 1978. Alongside his 17 England caps, Currie won two promotions with Sheffield United, reached two League Cup Semi-Finals with Leeds United and played in the 1981-82 FA Cup Final with QPR, losing 1-0 in a replay, scant reward for a man of his talents.

However, against the background of his playing career, Currie reveals the struggles he had to deal with and still does to this day. For this there is much to credit co-author Andy Pack for, in being able to be trusted enough to extract and reveal the inner turmoil and dark parts of Currie’s life as his career ended against a background of divorce, depression, increasing isolation, drinking and money problems. However, you feel that Pack would have had to work hard to get the story he wanted as at just 239 pages, this is a short book compared to most biographies/autobiographies, which leads at times to certain events seemingly skimmed over and covered too quickly.

Despite this, Currie is very open in being very critical of himself, whether detailing his inability to be authoritative, for instance in wage negotiations during his playing time, describing his crippling shyness and nervousness away from his playing days, or the reasoning behind not seeking professional help now and in the past. What is evident though is the part that Sheffield as a city and United as a club did to bring Currie back from the brink in getting him back on his feet, starting with a testimonial game in 1986 which drew over 20,000 to Bramall Lane. Since then, Currie has worked at the club in various roles, beginning in 1988 on the Football in the Community scheme, later becoming a Director and in recent years as a Club Ambassador. Currie’s place in the Blades history was further cemented in 2018 when the South Stand was named the Tony Currie Stand – not bad for a lad from London, who has earned a special place in the hearts of those who call Bramall Lane home.

(Publisher: Vertical Editions. November 2021. Hardback: 239 pages)


Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

Book Review: The Singing Winger by Colin Grainger and Hyder Jawad

In 1950 the United Kingdom had George VI on the throne, with Labour under Clement Atlee in power after winning a second term in February of that year. In the world of football in England, Portsmouth took the First Division title, Tottenham earned promotion to the top flight after winning the Second Division, whilst Arsenal won the FA Cup beating Liverpool 2-0 at Wembley. On the international front England slipped to a shock 1-0 defeat against the USA at the World Cup in Brazil. Later that year in October, a seventeen year old lad from Yorkshire called Colin Grainger, pulled on his boots to make his Football League debut for Wrexham in the Third Division North.

Now it is not a name that will be familiar to many, but during his career, Grainger became a household name in not just one field, but two. In terms of his football exploits, the winger/outside left, came to play seven internationals for England, scoring two goals on his debut against Brazil at Wembley and as a singer he toured the country up until 1970, even releasing a record in 1958 and appearing on the bill with The Beatles. This dual success lead to his show billing as The Singing Winger – and taken as the title of this interesting book.

Grainger with journalist Hyder Jawad detail life on the pitch and on stage in chronological chapters (from 1933 to the present), with a brief introduction (Exordium) in which Grainger pays tribute to his parents and his family. The debt of gratitude that Grainger feels to his mother and father is evident throughout the book, typified by the recurring phrase, “Son, no way you’re ever going a pit.” Football was in the Grainger genes, with brother Jack, having a career at Rotherham United, Lincoln City and Burton Albion, and cousins Jack and Dennis Grainger and Edwin Holliday all playing professional football.

Given that Grainger is looking back on his life, is it no surprise that this is a very reflective book. The world described is a very different one not only on the pitch but in the wider context of everyday life in Britain. In terms of the football story, the reader is taken to the highs of his career as an England International, where all his seven caps were earned in an eleven month period, through his journey and lows of injury that saw his play in all four divisions of the professional game with, Wrexham, Sheffield United, Sunderland, Leeds United, Port Vale and Doncaster Rovers. Grainger continued his career in non-league allowing him a quite unique record of playing in the FA Cup, League Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase.

Within his football career there are some interesting insights, with Grainger quite open about the illegal signing-on fees prevalent at the time, an honesty about the managers and players from his era and some observations of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, long before their management success with Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

If there is a criticism of the book, is it that as a reader an expansion and further exploration of some of the footballing tales and indeed Grainger’s time on stage in the music business, would have added to the enjoyment. However, essentially this is an intriguing look at a unique career that simply wouldn’t be possible in the modern era.

Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

Book Review: The Evergreen in red and white: a novel by Steven Kay

I’ll be totally honest and say that I knew nothing of Rabbi ‘Rab’ Howell before reading this book. If you search on the internet, Wikipedia details that he, “…was a nineteenth-century professional footballer who played for Sheffield United and Liverpool primarily as a defender. Born in Wincobank in Sheffield he was of Romani descent and was the first Romani to play for England, winning two caps…” His two caps came against Ireland in 1895, in which he scored in a 9-0 win and Scotland in 1899. His Wikipedia entry also states that, “…serious allegations were to be levelled at him…as in his final season at the club he was believed to have attempted to throw a game against rivals for the Championship Sunderland, scoring two blatant own goals. No charges were ever brought but Howell only played one more game for United before being quietly sold to Liverpool…”

In The Evergreen (a reference to Howell’s nickname, who in the modern game would be seen as a player with a ‘big-engine’), author Steven Kay offers a different perspective on the players move from Sheffield United to Liverpool. Kay hints that Howell was transferred as the United board discovered that the player was having an affair and to distance themselves from any scandal, Howell was quickly sold to Liverpool.

Although this book is written as a novel, Kay believes that his research has created a version of events that is, “…as close to the truth as possible…”, whilst being, “…a fictional account based on what facts that can be gleaned…”

The book begins in April 1897 and follows a year in Rab’s life ‘on and off the pitch’, including the 1897/98 First Division season. Part of the backdrop to the story is the visit of Queen Victoria to Sheffield as she toured the country during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. In this respect Kay offers the reader a book which works on the levels of football and social history.

The author has to be congratulated for the research that informs the book, not only into the Victorian world of football, but for the portrayal of Victorian life in Sheffield. As somebody who has spent some time in the Steel City, this book has had me searching for images of Victorian Sheffield. Indeed, if Thomas Hardy and or Charles Dickens did football, then this book would be the result.

Footballers accused of match-fixing and involved in affairs of the heart? Whether it’s the Nineteenth, Twentieth or Twenty First Century – some things will never change.

2014/15: Pre-season Friendly – Sheffield United v Fenerbahce

The great thing about friendlies is the unlikely pairings they sometimes throw together. Take the fixture last night that pitched Sheffield United from England’s League One against Turkish Champions, Fenerbahce; brought about by Blades Director Selahattin Baki who hails from Turkey. It was arranged to mark the 125th Anniversary of Sheffield United and to raise money for the Turkish Mining Disaster Fund.

In many ways it was a strange evening and one of contrasts. The game itself was a pre-season friendly, but because of the size of the crowd (12,950) and the large contingent of Fenerbahce fans (who were housed in the upper tier of the Jessica Ennis Stand), it had the feel and edge of a league game. The teams themselves also provided a significant contrast, with The Blades starting with youngsters such as 17 year old Louis Reed, whilst Fenerbahce fielded a starting line-up of internationals, including Cameroonian international Pierre Webo and the Portuguese pair of Raul Meireles and Bruno Alves, who had featured for their countries at the recent World Cup in Brazil.

Given the strength of the Turkish side it was no surprise that they dominated the chances in the opening half, with their ease on the ball and slick passing and movement. Within the opening ten minutes Meireles had his effort on goal well held by Mark Howard, but the United keeper could do nothing on eleven minutes when Caner Erkin’s cross was headed home by Webo. Indeed, the Cameroonian could have had a hat-trick in the first-half, but he was unable to take any of the chances. Turkish international Gokhan Gonul also had a decent opportunity to increase the visitors lead, but it proved to be another wasted opportunity. Sheffield United though did have chances of their own, the best a header from Marc McNulty from close range, which unfortunately was put over the bar. The other significant ‘action’ came off the pitch as mid-way during the half, a number of flares were lit by the away fans which had the stewards scurrying to put them out – a glimpse of terrace life, Turkey style.

Half-time and a chance to grab a well-earned pint. However, after spending the half-time break queuing, when we eventually reached the counter, we were informed that it was a food-only stand. Rather than join another queue the decision was made to leave the ground and head for a pub and so then have a leisurely wait for the train. It’s not something that would normally be considered, but with it being a friendly and knowing that I had to make the train for my connection, it was a fairly easy decision to make.

So what was missed in the second-half (besides copious substitutions)? Two goals by The Blades in the last fifteen minutes (Chris Porter and Neill Collins) which sealed what seemed an unlikely win after the first-half. A strange evening indeed…

2013/14: Sky Bet League One – Sheffield United v Walsall

Kick-off was delayed ten minutes at Bramall Lane due to a fire-alarm problem, although after a game low on quality and incident, fans might have wished it had been postponed indefinitely.

Walsall played five in midfield and Sheffield United seemed content to allow the visitors possession, indeed it was difficult to fathom at times who the home team was.

The two talking points of the first-half centred on a penalty that wasn’t awarded and one that was.

On forty minutes United defender Aidy White broke into the box and went down after a clumsy challenge from Lalkovic. However, referee Sarginson waved away appeals indicating the Walsall winger played the ball.

A minute into time added-on, United did get a penalty when James Chambers was adjudged to have handled the ball. Chris Porter fired home to put The Blades 1-0 up at the break.

Walsall manager Dean Smith’s said he felt ‘hard done by about the penalty decision. That certainly wasn’t deliberate handball. The first one was, for the foul by Milan Lalkovic, but two wrongs don’t make a right’.

United manager Nigel Clough believed, ‘one penalty was the least we should have had this evening’.

The highlight of the second-half came within two minutes of the restart. Walsall levelled when. Baxendale went down the right and his cross was powerfully headed home by Craig Westcarr.

That was as good as it got, as the game returned to the mediocrity of the first-half and at the whistle the frustrated reaction of home fans told you everything you needed to know.

Both managers acknowledged that reaction, with United boss Clough saying ‘it was a hard-earned point, but I’m disappointed with the goal we conceded again’, adding, ‘I was disappointed with our final delivery at times – we got into some good, positive positions and set-plays but weren’t quite on it’.

His counterpart Dean Smith reflected, ‘we were average tonight. We know we can play a lot better and it was probably a fair result. But it shows how far we’ve come that we can go away from Bramall Lane disappointed with only a point’.