Martin Kenny takes us back 60 years to a weather hit cup clash.
January 1961 was a momentous month for English football with the abolition of the maximum wage of £20 a week and the town winning preliminary games to reach the First Round of the FA Amateur Cup.
This competition was an early version of the FA Trophy where the non-league finalists would play regularly in front of crowds of 100,000 at Wembley. Interest in the Town’s exploits meant that the Supporters club laid on transport for the long journey to South Yorkshire.
Town had been drawn away against the highly rated Sheffield Hallam and it was to prove to be a frustrating afternoon as the game was abandoned after just 35 minutes. The town were leading the game when it was abandoned after Hillman “beat three men in a solo run and his swinging right foot shot from 25 yards skidded into the net”.
In fact it was amazing the game kicked off at all as the swirling fog was so bad that the linesman had to run several yards in inside the touch lines as it was not possible to see across the width of the pitch. The Herald reporter took the best advantage point from behind the goal!
The following week the town achieved a respectable draw to bring Sheffield Hallam back to Mason’s Road. However back at Mason’s Road the towns players underperformed perhaps under the pressure of playing in front of the largest crowd of the season and crashed out the cup.
The Town front line came in for criticism with fans suggesting that Gordon Hillman needed more support. As the clubs all time record ever goalscorer he would regularly clock up 40 goals a season but would have scored more if he had used his strong physique to challenge goalkeepers.
Trevor Ford of Cardiff City was a well known exponent of the shoulder charge which was highly effective in this era. Incidentally young town goalkeeper Mick Stowe would go onto sign professional terms for Cardiff and face Ford in training but unfortunately never played for the first team in the Football League.
Sheffield Hallam are known today simply as Hallam and play at the oldest football ground in the world Sandygates which hosted its first match on Boxing Day 1860. Hallam now play in the Northern Counties East League at level 10 in the football pyramid. They are the second oldest football club in the world.