Blades fans queue for hours to secure best spot for title-winning celebrations

Dot Howe and Rhys Drinkwater outside Sheffield Town Hall
Dot Howe and Rhys Drinkwater outside Sheffield Town Hall
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A sea of red and white shirts is spreading across Sheffield city centre as Blades fans secure the best vantage point for this evening's celebrations.

The League One winners are due to arrive at the town hall at 6.45pm, following an open-top bus parade from Bramall Lane.

Ruby Scaife, aged seven, with Joe Newbould and Dale Moore

Ruby Scaife, aged seven, with Joe Newbould and Dale Moore

They will meet fans and pose for photos before heading inside for a civic reception, after which they will emerge at around 7.50pm to pose with the trophy and be showered in confetti.

Devoted fans have been gathering since before 2pm outside the town hall, amid a cacophony of klaxons, and The Star spoke to some of those assembled.

For Dot Howe and her grandson Rhys Drinkwater, the club's success is particularly resonant.

Dot lost her husband Chris to cancer on January 30 this year, since when they have not lost a league game as they cruised to the title and an amazing 100-point haul.

'The Valley Girls', Gemma Collier, Gail Wingfield, Libby Collier, Barbara Preece and Sophia Collier

'The Valley Girls', Gemma Collier, Gail Wingfield, Libby Collier, Barbara Preece and Sophia Collier

"Chris was a devoted United fan and I'm a firm believer my husband's been blowing the ball into the net," she said.

"He's not looking down on this, he's here with us," she adds, pulling out a photo of him in the club colours.

Jamie Furniss and Dale Moore, who secured their place in front of the barriers at 2.30pm, said it had been a long, hard six years waiting for promotion to the Championship.

After the false dawns of recent seasons, Dale said he didn't believe they were going up this time 'until it was mathematically impossible for anyone to catch us'.

But the 27-year-old cook from Norton said he was cautiously confident about next season's campaign, predicting a top-half finish under the guidance of Chris Wilder, a manager he described as 'the best outside the Premier League'.

Jamie, who said he had been to every game this season, home and away, added: "You've got to cherish this. I think it's 12 years since we had something like this when we got promoted to the Premier League. I was there and I must have only been 10 or 11."

Also ready to celebrate are a group of friends and family from Gleadless Valley, calling themselves 'The Valley Girls'.

Gemma Collier is there with daughters Libby, aged seven, and Sophia, two, plus her mum Barbara Preece and family friend Gail Wingfield.

"This is the best season in all my years supporting United," said the 31-year-old.

"They've played good football, the atmosphere has been great and you've got to give the manager his dues for getting the best out of all the players. I think they can finish second next season."

Gail added: "It's about time but it's been a fantastic season and it's great to be here. My dad will be dancing up there. I think they can go all the way next season and become champions. We're going to show them."