Nothing will stop Ralph Wild helping Sheffield United kick-start their 125th anniversary celebrations, even though he lives nearly 4,000 miles away and is 95.
Ralph, who made his first visit to Bramall Lane in 1928, will be present at Saturday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers after travelling from Winnipeg, Canada, to cheer on Nigel Clough’s side.
The former serviceman has been making the journey since 2005, spending six months a year in the city and attending United matches before returning to his home in North America.
“I love coming over to Sheffield because I can avoid the harsh winters where I live,” Ralph said. “And it means, of course, that I can watch most of United’s home games.
“I usually miss two or three at the start of the season and a couple at the end. But, apart from that, I don’t miss many.
“My favourite player was Jimmy Hagan and my memories of watching United as a youngster are still fresh in my mind.
“I’m just delighted to still be around for the club’s 125th celebrations and I’m really looking forward to it. It will be a wonderful day.”
Born in Rotherham, Ralph joined the RAF in 1939 and served as ground crew with the 249 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He was later posted to Canada, where he met and married wife Myrla in 1943, before returning to England with Bomber Command.
Demobbed in 1945, Ralph, who has two sons and a daughter as well as five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, emigrated five years later and began visiting Sheffield, initially to care for his sister, nine years ago.
He has been a season-ticket-holder since then and United co-owner Kevin McCabe granted him free entry for the 2013/14 campaign.
“Kevin has been very kind to me and has invited me to have lunch with him at the ground on a couple of occasions,” Ralph, a member of the Senior Blades, said.
“I really appreciate that and am very thankful.”
Unfortunately, Ralph will miss next month’s FA Cup semi-final against Hull City at Wembley.
He said: “It’s a great pity but I’ll be with them in spirit and urging them on to the final.
“I’m booked to fly home to Canada from Manchester a few hours after the match finishes and I wouldn’t be able to get back from London in time.”