BLADES fans today spoke of their shock after top goalscorer Ched Evans was convicted and jailed for rape at a crucial point in their season.
Derek Hurst, aged 78, of Arbourthorne, who has been going to Bramall Lane since 1938, said: “It’s come at a really bad time for the club.
“I suppose that’s what you get with footballers these days.
“But after what the judge said in summing up, I’m surprised at the verdict.”
Kevan Smith, 56, of Manor, said: “He’s brought shame on himself and he just happens to play for United so people will link the two together and say he has brought shame on the club.
“It’s a personal matter. This will be difficult for the fans to come to terms with because he has been the star player but that is the verdict.”
Grandad Alan Smith, 62, of Anston, said: “I’m extremely disappointed.
“It is bad for Sheffield United, it has come at a terrible time and it is a massive loss but he has got to serve his sentence and life has to go on at Sheffield United.
“It’s shocking really. I have been watching United for 53 years. This wouldn’t have happened some years ago with footballers.
“If he’s guilty he is guilty but my personal opinion is that it is a sad loss for Sheffield United for obvious reasons.
“If he does something like that and gets found guilty he’s got to serve his sentence.
“But this happens - I’m just sorry it was Ched.”
Doug Burkhill, 81, of Gleadless, has been a Blade since he was 14 and said the verdict was an ‘injustice’.
He added: “It’s going to make a difference to the club, we are going to struggle now.
“I don’t think it should bring shame on the club.
“It happens up and down the country with people working in all kinds of professions.
“I didn’t expect he would be found guilty.
“We’re going to struggle now to get promotion.”
Former Sports Minister and Sheffield Central MP Richard Caborn said there was a need for a ‘culture change’ for young, wealthy players.
The life-long fan said: “It’s a hell of a long sentence. I was talking to people who thought he would get off.
“I think certain footballers clearly think they are in privileged positions but they are not - nobody is above the law. There is a culture out there that needs to be changed.
“I am talking with Sir Trevor Brooking, of the Football Association, about having training in academies to address social responsibility and life skills.”
He added: “Loss of Ched Evans is a blow to United’s promotion push but I think the club will carry on and manage to be successful.”
* Rape Crisis national freephone helpline: 0808 802 9999 (manned 12pm to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm) www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Sheffield rape and sexual abuse counselling service. Helpline support – 0114 2447936 Tuesday 2pm to 8pm, Thursday 6 to 8pm. At other times, leave a message on the 24-hour answer phone and a counsellor or helpline support worker will return your call.