Sports Retro: Blades glory - Owls down ... May 5, 1990, the day Sheffield United and Wednesday swapped places

Blades Glory - Owls Down, the famous Green Un front page from May 5, 1990
Blades Glory - Owls Down, the famous Green Un front page from May 5, 1990
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Sheffield United’s title-winning promotion back to the Championship and the scenes that accompanied it have brought back memories of other momentous campaign finishes.

And central to those, not least for Blades fans of a certain age, is the success on May 5, 1990 - a day that sparked the now famous Green Un headline ‘Blades glory - Owls down’.

United won promotion back to the top flight after a 14 year absence by way of a 5-2 win at Leicester City, while defeat for Wednesday against Forest and victory for Luton at Derby saw Ron Atkinson’s side go in the opposite direction.

Much has been made this season about the comparable management styles of current Blades boss Chris Wilder and the man who master-minded the 1990 promotion, Dave Bassett.

And looking back it’s easy to see why.

Wilder’s no nonsense old-style approach has worked wonders and you can tell he learned a lot from Bassett.

Dave Bassett is held aloft by Blades fans at Leicester after gaining promotion to Division One

Dave Bassett is held aloft by Blades fans at Leicester after gaining promotion to Division One

‘Harry’ as he was known, was very much a players man and he knew how to get the best out of them.

In the build-up to that win over Leicester, he and his team were pictured on the front of The Star drinking champagne at training - a way of thanking the players for their hard work during the campaign and to help ease the pressure.

And when victory was sealed, Bassett showed exactly how much Sheffield United meant to him, calling it ‘the greatest day of my life’.

And the links between United’s 1990 vintage and Wilder and this current United side are there for all to see in Bassett’s post promotion quotes.

Sheffield United v Leicester City - 5 May 1990
Brian Deane ecstatic after scoring and putting United firmly on the road to promotion.

Sheffield United v Leicester City - 5 May 1990 Brian Deane ecstatic after scoring and putting United firmly on the road to promotion.

“We have come through much quicker than anyone expected. We have built this side in two years.

“I never expected to be going up so soon but the boys have been tremendous.

“We are in the First Division now and we are not afraid. People said we might not be good enough for the Second but here we are.”

Managing Director Derek Dooley hailed Harry and his heroes as the Blades looked ahead to a new season at the top.

Dave Bassett with some of the Sheffield United players after clinching promotion

Dave Bassett with some of the Sheffield United players after clinching promotion

“Overnight the whole future of the club has changed and we shall do everything in our power to stay in the First Division now that we have made it,” he said.

“Dave Bassett is not the man to go out tomorrow and spend money but I am confident that when the time comes, we shall be able to help him.

“We know we need strengthening and I can think of no-one in whom I could have greater confidence in spending our money wisely.”

Traditional city rivalries were put to one side, too, as those at United expressed their disappointment that Wednesday had gone down, though the tone suggests that were just as annoyed at missing out on the money from a big derby gate.

Bassett said: “It is a terrible blow to lose them. I get no joy out of that at all.”

And Dooley, of course a former player and manager at Hillsborough who was controversially sacked on Christmas Day in 1973 added: “I am delighted for our club but for the first time in 17 years, I am sorry for Wednesday.

“Everyone knows how hurt I was by the events of my dismissal and time has not really healed that wound. But I am genuinely sorry for Ron Atkinson and the people at Hillsborough.

“We really wanted to play them next season in the First Division.

“It has done Sheffield United no good at all to lose them.

“We have swapped a full house and terrific excitement against the Owls for games home and away against Luton. And on a plastic pitch as well.”

United struggled in the early part of life in the top flight but would eventually turn it around and avoid relegation.

The last time United won a title was back in 1982 under the stewardship of Ian Porterfield.

The Blades won promotion from Division Four after beating Peterborough and then the championship was secured with a win over Darlington, Keith Edwards the goalscoring hero throughout the campaign.

More recently, thousands packed the city centre streets to hail the promotion to the Premier League in 2006 when boyhood Blade Neil Warnock led the team to second in the table behind Reading.

United had been in the top two places in the league for almost the entire season.