Sheffield: from the perspective of a young person

Canadian rock is more than just Nickelback you know.

Written by John Slingsby, April 2023

The much-maligned band (perhaps a bit unfairly, have you listened to ‘How You Remind Me’ lately?) have had a bit of a stranglehold on the niche label of ‘bands from Canada’ for the past twenty years, or however long they’ve been producing music.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this diatribe about Canada and Nickelback but we’re getting there – we’re getting there now in fact. Cleopatrick are also from Canada and are also a rock band. They’re also very good and I would highly recommend either listening to them or seeing them live, because dear reader, they do indeed produce certified bangers. One of those certified bangers is ‘Hometown’ where singer Luke Gruntz rips on the afore-mentioned town as a place of loneliness and anxiety because of the people who live there. It really is a cracking song, I’d take a break from reading this and go listen to it. Go on. I can wait. Click on that link.

You’re back! It’s a little bit good, ain’t it? Anyway, what does that have to do with Sheffield? I think Sheffield gets a bad reputation by and large. Or, rather, we’re seen as something or a curio by anyone that doesn’t live here – or has never lived here.

“It’s such a lovely small town!” Mate, we’re the fourth largest city in England and you can’t speak about small towns, you’re literally from Plymouth.

I remember in College one of my classmates was shocked that ‘certified lover boy’ (that’s a hell of a title to festoon upon yourself, it’s like a really crap Tumblr bio that you might put between the cat bitmoji and an ‘UwU’) Drake was performing at Sheffield Arena because “we’re a small town!”

There’s that side to it, and then there’s the more serious side. Sheffield city centre is in desperate need of a facelift and, compared to cities in the surrounding area, we’ve been desperately let down by a lack of funding and general interest in making it better, largely down to a City Council which, from my perspective, feels so apathetic towards improving the City that they’d rather risk flooding Fargate with sewage that would make middle age Bilbao look good – and instead use money to create ‘container park vibez’. I’m looking at you, money-pit BOXPARK-knock-off container-park.

From 2016 to 2022, Sheffield has seen a rise in crime of 11,000 reported incidents from 39,000 to 51,000 which leaves us 19% higher than the average national crime rate figure. When you look at it like that, you’d probably think that like our mate Luke in ‘Hometown’ that you’d want to get the hell outta dodge and go live in somewhere benign like Somerset or Norfolk but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Despite all this – the real and perceived negatives of Sheffield – I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in this country. Hell, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world.

We’re a proud bunch in Sheffield aren’t we? We’ll fiercely defend our city, no matter what valid concerns people from elsewhere might bring up because, at the end of the day, this is home.

We’re a diverse city, you can literally walk about ten minutes more or less in any direction and see different communities co-existing together. I think we’re probably one of the only cities in the UK where you can just get in a chat with a random person on the street and after five-minutes you’re best mates and you’ve got an invite to a wedding and Christmas dinner.

We’ve got the Peak District literally on our back door with views and picturesque landscapes that would make Roger Deakins blush. We’re a city that has featured in more TV/films than your average Hollywood backlot. We’ve got world class sporting facilities and last summer opened our arms to the fans of Sweden and Holland. And we saw Eurobeat being embraced as the new hot sound in the city.

At the end of the day, Sheffield does have a lot that needs to be improved, let’s not shy away from that. But there’s also a hell of a lot of good going for it and, hopefully, we as the young people of Sheffield will be a massive part of helping positive change come about.

I feel very positive about Sheffield’s future and, unlike our man Luke, I won’t be looking to escape from my hometown anytime soon.