Journey - 7
The location of Sandygate means that it doesn't take long to get to from most areas of the city which is especially useful for night matches! Our journey took us up the infamous Hagg Hill and like many others before us we attempted to get the car into second gear halfway up the hill and then instantly regretted the decision! There's never much traffic heading this way and parking up is easy around the ground in one of the residential streets which makes for a quick and simple journey.
Welcome - 10
As we headed into the World's oldest ground we were greeted by club treasurer Sharon and another member of the Hallam match day team. We were recognised from a previous visit to the club and we can't help but admit that this made us feel a little special! However we must say that we weren't special at all as this is the sort of lovely welcome that anyone can expect here! The staff at Sandygate provide a warm welcome whether that be at the bar, the raffle ticket man or club officials. A sort of welcome that will help develop an instant affinity with the club to even the most hard nosed cynical football fan out there! The all ticket affair meant that track and trace details were already held by the club so that made things even easier too!
Ground - 10
Historic. Yes, Historic! Hallam can boast to have the Oldest football ground in the World and therefore a full marks score of ten is fully justified. Sandygate has a fully seated stand on the halfway line and behind one of the goals is a covered area which is great to stand in when your team are attacking the top goal. I say top because there is very much a "top" and a "bottom" to this ground as it has the most incredible slope which is yet another unique factor to this historic place. The slope means that water-logging can occur a little easier than in most football grounds but I can't help but feel the slope adds to the charisma and character of the place. If there was one thing I could improve about the ground it would be the railing height! (Yes, we do notice these things and do realise its nitpicking!) A couple of inches higher and it would be at the optimal level for leaning over with a pint in hand!
Clubhouse - 9
I brought a family member along to the game who had not visited the ground before and this was the first thing
he commented on. "Wow, its a decent set up here!" Indeed it is. The clubhouse is modern and practical but it also steeped in history with the amount of memorabilia Hallam have on show. From old team photographs from many moons ago to eye catching action of Hallam FC playing a game at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough home in the early 20th century. The entrance has football memorabilia involving Hallam's historic links with both national and international teams and it really does overwhelm you (In the most wonderful way) of how much Hallam have contributed to the beautiful game. However the memorabilia doesn't stop there! Whilst relieving yourself in the loos you'll find a signed Geoff Hurst shirt and I am reliably informed that the ladies lavatories has a signed shirt from one of the greatest footballers of all time. You may have heard of him, goes by the name of Pele or something? In an ideal world the clubhouse would be a little larger to help deal with the busyness that occurs during matchday but this clubhouse is well worth a visit even if the team aren't playing and you certainly can't say that about many places!
Beer - 10
Hallam plays host to one of our favourite beers we've ever tasted at Non-league - Mansfield ale! A superb pint that we haven't seen in any other establishments before. It's a great pint and at just £3 a pop what's not to
love? We must admit to enjoying several of these during a day session when Hallam opened up their clubhouse before they were hosting any home friendlies and we can confirm that the hangover wasn't half as bad as it should have been! Cheers Mansfield!
Food - N/A The hatch was open for the game but as we were unsure whether this would be the case we had tea before the match. We really did regret this decision as we saw sausage rolls, pies and more pass by us during the game. The lady who runs the food hatch is absolutely lovely and has been doing a stellar job for quite some time so it's worth getting some grub during your visit just for that alone!
Match Quality - 10
Bloody hell! Football was back at Sandygate in style and we don't mean the limited edition Hallam bucket hats which we have on order! This game had everything! Hallam found themselves 2-0 down at the break with no real route seeming possible back into the game. Especially after a missed penalty meant that a decent chance to halve the deficit was squandered. How wrong we were however! With 15 minutes left of the game Hallam score from a header and the atmosphere really built around the ground. It seemed that the Grantham boys were rattled as the local support really got behind their team with chants of "We're all Hallam aren't we?" and
loud echoes of "C'mon Hallam!" A group of supporters to our left were having a whale of a time berating the linesman who was more than happy to see the fun side of things which was great. Once they'd had their fun with him they moved onto the opposition goalkeeper who was now becoming visibly rattled. Three minutes later and the ball was again in the net. An equalising goal and a great roar came from the supporters behind the goal. There was nothing that felt 'Pre season friendly' about this game at all! Hallam worked a corner in the 89th minute, could they really turn this game on it's head in just 14 minutes? Yes, they could! A bullet header sealed Hallam's third goal of the game and the celebrations of both players and fans was incredible! It really was as though the footballing gods had declared that football was truly back at Hallam! 5 Goals, a missed penalty and a last minute winner, we have no choice but to award the full 10 points for match quality and entertainment value.
Admission Price - 10
Now that you've read the last paragraph you'll be even more pleased to know we payed £5 for all of that entertainment. Superb ticket prices which means that football under the lights at Sandygate is an easy choice to make! You can visit Hallam, get yourself a pint, something to eat and a scarf and still have change from a £20 note and that is truly fantastic value! Our city has a rich history of football and with football in professional grounds looking very limited for spectators for quite a while we urge you to visit Hallam, check out the history of the place and enjoy a day or night out at the World's oldest football ground!