Spyin Kop - Sheffield United Away

Posted by Hightown Phil on August 16, 2006, 10:54:08 AM

Spyin’ Kop

Sheffield United, 19th August 2006, Bramall Lane


Kick off – 12.45pm

Referee – Rob Styles

So, we’re back for another Premiership season, a season when confidence is seemingly high amongst our fans, a season where there is an expectation for us to push on and win the League. We've had a poor pre season, including a 5-0 defeat to FC Mainz, but last weekend a weakened side proved how little you should read into pre season friendlies, with an assured 2-1 win over Chelsea in Cardiff, netting us some sliverware. Which was nice.

Into the nitty gritty though. The Premiership. The Premier League’s fixture has decreed that we’re away from home on the first day for the second season running. Unfortunately this season it’s not the Costa del Middlesbrough, it’s new boys Sheffield United, and at that, an early kick off, which I think we all agree should be banned. Forever. With us today are Sheffield United fans Joe and Karl, who will be, as usual, answering the questions.

History

Attendance 68,287: vs Leeds United 15/02/1936 FA Cup R5

Best win 10 - 0: vs Port Vale 10/12/1892 Division 2

Worst loss 0 - 13: vs Bolton Wanderers 01/02/1890 FA Cup R2

Most capped player Billy Gillespie: 25 Northern Ireland

League appearances Joe Shaw: 629 1948/66

League goals Harry Johnson: 205 1919/30

Goals in a season Jimmy Dunne: 41 1930/31 Division 1

Transfer fee received £2,700,000: Brian Deane Leeds United July 1993

Transfer fee paid £1,200,000: Don Hutchison West Ham United January 1996

Sheffield United were formed in 1889, but football had been played for longer than that at their current ground. Sheffield FC, who pre date both United and Wednesday in the city, have been recorded as playing games there as early 1862. Sheffield FC are the oldest football club in the world. How you can form a club when there aren't anymore anywhere else though is a bit confusing really isn't it? Who would you play?

Despite this, Bramall Lane was really used in the start as a cricket ground. The first game played there was in 1855, Yorkshire played Sussex, whilst the playing of cricket allows the Lane to share something with the Kennington Oval. They have hosted both an FA Cup Final and a Cricket Test Match.

It was the hosting of an FA Cup Semi Final that caused the Blades, as they’re nicknamed, to be formed. Preston and Sheffield Wednesday fought out a game there in 1889 and this yielded a gate receipt of £574, a very substantial amount of money for the time. As a consequence of this Sir Charles Clegg, chairman of the FA, suggested that a club be formed. They were. And the rest, as they say, is history.

After 9 years of playing local football, the Football League formed a Second Division, to which United were given a place. It only took them one season to gain promotion to the first division, where they remained till they suffered relegation in 1934. During this period, they managed to amass a League Championship (1898) and four FA Cups (1899, 1902, 1915, and 1925), Arsenal and Tottenham defeated them in FA Cup Finals as well, in 1901 and 1936 respectively.

United managed to earn promotion in 1939, the war however interrupted the footballing calendar significantly and they therefore didn’t get a chance to resume their top flight career until 1945, when Jimmy Hagan set Bramall Lane alive, many consider him to be United’s best ever player. The post war period saw United yo-yo between the First and Second Division no less than 7 times.

A downward spiral started for the Blades in the 1976 season when they were relegated to the Second Division, by 1981 they were in the old Fourth Division. Relegation came in cruel circumstances, United got a penalty in the last minute, score and they stay up, and miss and they go down. The penalty was missed and United were down. They bounced back up the next season though. I'd use that word of Ian Dowie's, but Rushian would probably ban me. :D

Dave Bassett took them from the third Division in 1988 and with consecutive promotions they found themselves in the First Division in 1990, the Blades were one of the founder members of the Premiership, and through Brian Deane, managed to score the first goal that the Premiership was to see. They finished 14th in the inaugural season. The second season however saw them go down. There were 5 teams who could go into two of the relegation places. With Oldham failing to win, it meant they would take one of the spots, Southampton’s goal difference meant that their draw and Ipswich drawing meant that they would be up. So, the final place was fought out between Ipswich, United and our beloved Neighbours Everton. They wouldn’t have been down that region of the table if Gary Linekar hadn’t have gone to Barcelona though. At half time, all looked very rosy indeed for the Blades, they were leading at Stamford Bridge, Ipswich were drawing 0-0 at Blackburn and Everton were 2-1 down, after being 2-0 down. All looked good for the Blades.

As the second half went on though, things started to change, Chelsea managed to claw themselves back into the game and a Mark Stein brace meant that things were no longer in their own hands. With the respective goal difference however, it meant that Everton needed to win to stay up. In a fine show of gentlemanly football Everton managed to claw back two goals in the last 15 minutes to give them a 3-2 win, in one of the most well spirited games of football ever seen.

Sheffield United were down. And it’s taken them 12 years to come back. Colin Wanker will hope to keep them here and I hope he entertains us along the way.

As I said earlier, Joe and Karl are here to give us a Yorkshire viewpoint on the game.

Welcome to the Premiership then Blades, it’s been 12 years since you were robbed of your Premiership status, how does it feel to be back?

Joe: I was quite little when we went down, all the days were sunny, filling up my Premiership '94 sticker book, no England fan gayness because we didn't even qualify for the World Cup. It's been a long time coming, and certainly a lot has changed.

Karl: Our relegation back in 93/94 was one of the great tragedies & swindles of English sporting history. However It feels wonderful to be back in the big-time. Since the last time we were here the Premiership has soared to stratospheric levels of popularity around the Globe & it's nice to be able to tap into that. Because of this the billions of Chinese who follow our fortunes will soon be joined by a worlwide army of devotees who hang onto every sermon preached by Big Chief Red n White Wizard Warnock.

What position do you think you’ll be finishing the season in?

J: Probably in the bottom three unfortunately.

K: Depending on how advanced my state of refreshment is I waiver between the wildly optimistic almost insane belief we'll qualify for Europe & a more sensible but still slightly optimistic belief we'll be safe n steady & enjoy a lower midtable finish with a brief buttock twitching flirt with the relegation places just after xmas.

Is avoiding relegation the be all and end all?

J: Certainly. It would be riddiculous to suggest anything else.

K: Yes, it means everything to stay up, especially considering the extra TV money that will be available from 2007/08. Obviously if we perform a la West Ham or Wigan then that would be fantastic but a bonus nonetheless.

What do you think of Warnock, he’s had a bit of a strange relationship with a certain section of the fans hasn’t he?

J: I fucking hate the bloke to be honest, I don't know a single person who dosen't, and to be honest he is a total c*nt. I thought after we got promoted I might give him the benefit of the doubt. But he spent the entire promotion celebrations grabbing the microphone at every oppotunity to have a pop at us for ever questioning his divine authority.

He has stayed at this club for so long only because of his "love" of the club. Otherwise he would have been sacked years ago, he is our longest serving manager ever, and our biggest spending manager ever. I think he believes himself that he got promotion through some sort of divine magic that he himself created. I think the only magic is that we managed to get promoted after nearly half a season of dire football, non-existent tactics and hideously wasteful and shite transfers. Funnily enough the dip coincided with aftermath of him nearly leaving for Portsmouth.

K: He's like marmite. You either love him or hate him. Personally I don't mind him, his outbursts don't bother me in the slightest, they are very amusing & if you ignore the bulging neck veins & spittle covered camera lense he talks a lot of sense. However I do have concerns about his tactical nous. For someone seemingly with a striker fetish his formations can at times be frustratingly & maddeningly defensive & negative. One lone striker, big punts upfield bypassing midfield, it drives Unitedites to distraction. It's just not necessary because we have the players with the ability to keep the ball down & play expansive football so gawd knows why he reverts to route one every now & again.

What do you think of his summer dealings? Enough to keep you up?

J: Very good actually. Claude Davis in particular. It's easy to say "Ohh but where is the Premiership class?" but who the fuck is going to sign for us seriously? We have a far better squad that we got promoted with and it's all I can ask for really.

K: Yes , he's strengthened where we needed it most, in defense though sods law dictates our record signing Claude Davis is out for the first 3 games or so. There's been no high profile 'take your breath away' type signing which has annoyed a section of the support who seem to think we should have spent all our promotion windfall on one high profile midfield maestro.

Any players we should be looking out for?

J: Everyone knows our good players already since we are so MASSIVE and famous and we are always on the TV taking the piss in the cups. Enjoy Phil Jagielka in what I'm pretty positive will be his last season here.

K: Maybe not the fans but tell the opposition players to keep an eye on Chris Morgan. His pre-match meal consists of a lump of hot coal washed down with a pint of molten steel. Get a tenner on him to be the first sending off of the new Premiership season. As for our better players then it's the usual suspects Michael Tonge, scorer of a brace the last time we met at the Lane in the league cup semi 1st leg a few seasons back, Phil Jagielka who last season was voted the best player outside the Premiership & the magical, mercurial, ex-manc Danny Webber.


It’s been a while since we’ve had a game at the Lane, any idea on boozers that will supply us with pre and post match ale? Anywhere we should we looking to swerve?

J: The Golden Lion is your best bet, I couldn't tell you exactly where it is because I'm not too sure myself, I know how to get there when I'm at the lane. It's on a side street that you would never find unless you were looking, inbetween Bramall Lane the London Road.

You could always go into town to be honest, up on West Street in the centre (get a tram that says Malin Bridge or Middlewood from the station and get off after a couple of stops) every other building is a bar.

K: The ground is 5-10 minute walk from City Centre which as you would expect from one of Europe's major cities has a plethora of pubs, bars & good old fashioned boozers. None of them have home fans only policies though there is usually a very heavy police presence. Main watering hole near the ground that let's in away fans is the Golden Lion. All the others operate home fans only door policies though inconspicuous groups of two & three can get in with no troubles. The Cricketers bang outside the away end is usually surrounded by South Yorkshire's finest though that is more about stopping the hooligans from getting out than preventing folk getting in.

What do you make of Liverpool’s chances of success this coming season?

J: Probably more than ours. I don't think you will win the league though. Unless we break some of Chelsea's star players legs, which is actually quite likely to happen.

K: Should be challenging for the title. I'd expect that to finish anything lower than second spot would be considered a disappointment. Should also win one of the cups.

What do you think of the signings we’ve so far made?

J: Jermaine Pennant and Craig Bellamy are dicks of the highest order. Talented, but they may well spend more time in Jail than on the pitch.

K: Craig Bellamy is a superb signing. Yes he's got a bit of an attitude but hey who cares, he's a match winner. Skillful, tenacious & with just that little bit of edge & nastiness that makes him a true competitior. Can't believe the fee you've paid for Pennant, for me seems far, far too much for a player who has flattered to decieve & never proved himself on the biggest stages even though he seems to have been around for what seems an age. But who am I to question the judgement of a manager who's won the Champion's League? As for your other signings all I know about them are that they are foreign & talk funny so should have no problems adjusting to their new life on Merseyside.

Anything that you feel could improve us?

J: Roman Abramovich.

K: Stop playing Peter Crouch. You may score less goals but overall be much more pleasing on the eye.

When Saturday Comes or the Full Monty? Tough questions these I know . . .

J: Has anyone ever watched When Saturday Comes seriously? I did once, It wasn't nice. You may be suprised to know than Sean Bean is also only about 5 foot tall, true that.

K: Interestingly I have put more thought into this question than any of the others & decided to recommend a film called Threads. It's a post-nuclear holocaust film filmed in Sheffield at the height of the Cold war. Got a great scene of a woman wetting herself in the street which I'm sure will trigger many happy memories of 'hot-legging' on a packed swaying Anfield Kop.

One thing that’s always amused, and also confused me is you and your ‘beloved’ Wednesday brethren’s insistence on calling each other ‘The Pigs’, where does this come from, and who are the real pigs?

J: In the aformentioned days of the 1994 sticker book, when all the kids at school supported United or Wednesday, and Man U or Chelsea where so distant and insignificant they were ranked in importance in the sticker collection with Swindon and Oldham, nobody who supported the wrong team ever used to use the word Pig to describe us, we however would do to them.

The Pigs is Wednesday's old nickname from the 1920's, It's only recently that it's started being thrown back, although as to why confuses me too. Probably because they are a set of c*nts.

K: Even though Wednesday's ground is called Hillsborough it's not in the Hillsborough district it's actually in Owlerton (hence The Owls). Prior to Wednesday moving to Owlerton it's main claim to fame was the site of a pork slaughterhouse known as Owlerton piggery. Hence Wednesday being known as the pigs.

Any other comments to make?

J: Leeds are shit. Well it seems a good enough comment to me. It's worth being said.

K: The world's oldest football club, Sheffield FC formed in 1857 was founded by a gentleman who went by the name of Major Sir Nathaniel Creswick. The Major was a committee member of Sheffield Utd therefore we invented football.

And finally a score prediction?

J: I think we can win this game to be honest, it's got the typical one of Cup game thing written all over it. It's the rest of the season one has concerns about.

K: I think Utd will score one goal. Liverpool will score either 0, 1, 2, or 3. That's about as specific as I'm prepared to be. Thank you & please enjoy your visit to Bramall Lane.

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So, thank you to Joe and Karl for answering my questions and giving us in insight into what Sheffield United fans are thinking.

I'm looking forward to my first trip to Bramall Lane and hope that we’ll be snaking our way back over the Pennines with 3 points.

© Hightown Phil 2006

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