BRAMALL Lane, Hillsborough and Oakwell may be 4,000 miles away - but soldiers are still keeping the South Yorkshire soccer banter going in the Afghan desert, writes Richard Marsden in Afghanistan.
Members of the Third Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment are keen fans of the Owls, Blades and Tykes, and didn’t forget to pack their shirts and scarves when heading out to the war zone earlier this year.
When The Star visited Corunna Company’s base at Durai, in the most remote part of Helmand Province, the local lads were keen to show off their allegiances and decorated one of their Warrior armoured vehicles with flags.
There’s quite a rivalry on the base, particularly between United and Wednesday fans.
One of the rows of tents where the soldiers live has been named after the Blades.
But Wednesday fans have the upper hand because company commander, Major Ed Colver, who grew up in the countryside near Dungworth, supports the Owls.
He was keen to join his soldiers to have a picture taken with the football-themed vehicle.
During The Star’s visit, keen Blade Corporal Chris Tompkins, aged 30, from Lowedges, was left red-faced when he lost a bet with Major Colver and was forced to don a Wednesday shirt.
He said: “The banter between some of the lads on camp about the football is pretty strong - although it’s good natured.”
Owls may have the bragging rights after securing promotion at United’s expense - but they have to tone down their ribbing when asking for new kit and supplies because the Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant, Colour Sergeant Stewart Kitridge, 36, from Parson Cross, is a Blade.
He said: “I’ve been a season ticket holder at Bramall Lane for many years.”
Among his possessions are signed Blades shirts posted out by his partner as a birthday present.
Corunna Company is due to return home from Afghanistan next month, having been based in Helmand since March - so will not miss much of the new football season.
During their tour, the company has made notable achievements but sadly had to cope with the deaths of six of their colleagues when an armoured vehicle was hit by a bomb in March.