Sometimes as a football fan you end up visiting some grounds more than others. I’ve visited hundreds of different stadiums around the world, but Brammall Lane is like a second home to me.
I first visited back in 1996, as Sunderland were set to clinch promotion from Division One to the Premiership that day. My dad thought it would be the perfect introduction to life on the road, football wise. And I’ve just kept going back.
I’ve no idea why. I can’t say I love visiting the place – Sunderland have never played particularly well there, I don’t have mates in Sheffield that makes this a nice jaunt, yet I’ve been loads.
League cup, league, friendlies, possibly an FA Cup game too. I’ve taken in more games at Brammall Lane than any other football league ground barring the Stadium of Light. It’s a happy coincidence really but returning to Sheffield after playing the beautiful Lescar, seemed a perfect chance to take in this old haunt again.
Worryingly, this was probably the most sober I’ve been at Brammall Lane since my first visit as a child, but it’s a beautiful beast. There’s old and new mixed in alike, an office block built into the side of one of the stands, yet at the other end hand-written posters inform you that there’s some football on, in a way that suggested it was a new fangled thing they were giving a go.
Its only real down side to me is them renaming one of the ends The Jessica Ennis Stand. I’ve no idea why it irks me, but I don’t like it. Maybe she has a massive affiliation to the club, and fair play if she has, but I can’t help but think a club as big as Sheffield United must have another hero that stand should have been named after. Even The Brian Deane Stand would have suited me.
That’s not to say they’ve abandoned their history – the ground has enough statues, museums and Sean Bean related things to satisfy anyone’s needs.
It’s full of some terrific oddities mind. A disabled section sponsored by a healthcare company seems both suitable and inappropriate, but my favourite is them advertising a “wider turnstile.” A great idea until you take a step back and realise that the wider turnstile is actually slimmer than the normal ones! Makes you wonder if it’s a fatty trap!
That shouldn’t detract from what is a perfectly good home though. It’s a travesty that this is a League One ground, but then it’s almost an oddity when it hosts Premier League football. Maybe the Championship is its perfect home.
Either way it’s an absolute smasher.