Ahead of Barnsley’s visit to Bramall Lane, I will attempt to interrogate the real questions that fans on both sides are asking. What is out there, beyond the wall? What is on the inside? What should DEM BLADES make of teams like Barnsley?
Beyond the wall.
No, Barnsley fans: the outside world is not Westeros, in much the same way that Barnsley isn’t a sprawl of Wildings and an army of the dead.
I can only speak for Sheffield, but I will say this. Should you be so lucky to get a ticket for this weekend’s match, don’t just come for the football, but stay a while and revel in a city that has more than just a market.
Yes, our partners are not related to us, and yes, that has its pitfalls.
Last time you came to visit, I noticed many Tykes were gathered at the entrance to our train station, like a bunch of tired chefs, bedazzled by the jets of water coming from the ground and lapping over the edge of the long metal sculpture. Don’t be disturbed by this. Beyond the wall, we have enough water to go around and I, for one, hope that I speak for all of Sheffield, not just DEM BLADES, when I say: go ahead, take it. Take as much as you need. There’s plenty of running water here and I can’t think of a single person who would begrudge your need to quench your thirst.
Enough about the outside as my readership mostly comprises non-barbarians. What of the inside?
Places like Barnsley.
A wise man once said, “If you want to take a trip to the 1970s just hop on a 265 to Barnsley.” So that is what I did. I’d been to Barnsley once before and never looked back, why would you? I wish I hadn’t returned because I was wrong. Wildings do roam the streets groaning and shouting and fathering children to multiple mothers.
The entrance is currently guarded by a Barnsley legend: Dickie Bird. Before I escaped, I took great pains to visit what the Wilding’s call a museum – it’s not. Inside they dedicate a whole room to Dickie Bird. He’s not even a bird. Apparently, he was a poor cricketer and then gave up on the sport by becoming an umpire. As I tried to make my escape from this terrifying shrine, he was there in front of me.
He almost, and I say this with no exaggeration, talked me to death. I escaped his relentless self-congratulation. But not far from the shrine there was a lumbering statue of the man, mouth-frothing, swearing with his finger aloft (due to inbreeding, Wildings are often born with only an index finger and thumb, hence swearing in Barnsley takes on a very different appearance to that which comes outside of the walls).
The 265 stops running before it gets dark, so I made my way home on foot…
Teams like Barnsley.
Teams like Barnsley have managers like Pauls Heckingbottom. Born in Royston Vasey, Paul was raised on a diet of football and the butcher’s ‘special stuff’. His parents were local, he went to the local school and kicked around a local football. No surprises then that he took charge of his local team. I tried to speak to Pauls this week ahead of the game, but his responses to my questions were frankly unintelligible, though I have transcribed them for your pleasure.
Me: Are you looking forward to the game?
Teams like Barnsley also have players like Mark Hamill. They join the cast of Barnsley FC only to disappear for a few years and return looking a bit older, a bit fatter and nothing like the Jedi they once were. Speculation is rife as to what happened in the interim, but having looked at their side and his size, I can only see a Return of the 3 points for DEM BLADES.
Potential drought in Sheffield