The Diary: Colourful tribute to BladesYellowman

Zack and Fiona Middleton
Zack and Fiona Middleton
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He was a lifelong Blade who became a legend among fellow Sheffield United fans for always wearing the same bright yellow sweater to games.

Now, after David Middleton passed away following a battle with cancer, the club have taken the unusual step of honouring him – by painting his seat the same distinct shade as his famous jumper.

It means among the Kop’s sea of red, there is now a dash of the luminous.

The seat – inspired by a Twitter campaign in honour of the bloke fans called Yellowman – will remain for two games. Then it will be taken out, signed by players and given to the family.

“It’s so overwhelming,” says son Zack, a 22-year-old electrician. “What would my dad say? Probably that he’d been spending money on United all his life and it’s about time they spent some on him. But he’d be absolutely delighted.”

Yellowman – a North Anston quality assurance manager with Rotherham Council by day – became a hit among fellow supporters after wife Fiona bought him the distinctive sweater for Christmas 2002. He wore it religiously to matches, partially, says Zack, as a good luck charm and partially “because that’s what dads do.”

He adds: “If you ever see a clip of United scoring in the home end you can see him celebrating. When we were in the Premier League he was on Match Of The Day almost as much as Gary Lineker.”

His fame spread after a game against Watford one Tuesday night in the early noughties. A fan on an online forum noted David had started celebrating a goal before it had even been scored. “Is the Yellowman psychic?” he joked. The name stuck.

“After that, he’d get stopped by strangers at games,” says Zack, also of North Anston. “He found it funny. It bemused him.”

It followed a lifetime supporting United. David was first taken to a match as a baby. He had seen them play at 86 different grounds.

When he passed away in August, fans – led by Salford-based Unitedite Dave Chapman – launched the campaign to have the seat turned yellow. The club heeded the cry, also giving the family a box for the MK Dons game.

“David personified what many Blades are about,” says operations director Dave McCarthy. “He gave his support, no matter what, through rain and shine.”