When Christmas revival lit up the doomed Blades

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IT WAS the fact this Saturday falls on the 22nd and that QPR won at their 17th attempt - not to mention that I saw Dave Bassett last Saturday - which prompted me to think of Sheffield United’s famous recovery when they seemed doomed going into Christmas.

It was the first season back in the top flight after Bassett led them to back-to-back promotions but the autumn and early winter of 1990 was tough. They couldn’t win.

Written off, utterly and completely, United had gone 16 league games without a win when, finally, on that last Saturday before Christmas they did win.

They beat Nottingham Forest 3-2, sparking great celebrations at the Lane. The lights twinkled a bit brighter as the fans headed off home that tea-time.

After QPR won for the first time last Saturday, someone noted that their 16 without a win was the same as Sheffield United’s run in 1990 before adding the rider... “and they survived”.

Indeed, United did but that was very much helped by a seven match winning run which began at the end of January and included Man United, Chelsea and Everton, this last one away.

But it was the Forest result - sparking three wins out of four in the festive period - which set things off. And it prompted Bassett, the following season, to decide to put the Christmas trimmings up in September after they’d got off to a poor start.

It was great publicity and it worked too!

Last Saturday, Bassett, as he is often prone to do, was back watching his old club, now AFC Wimbledon - what you might call his spiritual home.

He appeared down the tunnel about 30 minutes before kick off to give a big hug to a former Blades physio Denis Circuit and there was plenty of chatting and laughing. Typically, ‘Harry’ was the one doing most of the chatting. He posed for a couple of photographs with admirers and was even game enough to have his pic taken holding a fluffy, hand-sized mascot.

Wherever he gets to tomorrow, he’ll know the significance of December 22, 1990.

BUMPED into a former acquaintance this week who has got a part-time job doing a spot of driving which involves delivering people to a company’s casinos.

He’s a former footballer so was particularly interested when one of his passengers turned out to be a Premier League footballer. Not a famous one and not at a leading club although they aren’t one of the ‘smaller’ ones.

He had some waiting time on this particular day and watched the player on the tables and he lost hundreds and, quite probably, a few thousand pounds in the brief time he was observing.

“Perhaps he could afford it - he’s on £39,000 a week,” he told me as he shook his head with incredulity.

THEN there’s the one about the cannabis bust that helped the local professional league club.

The heat lamps used for accelerating plant growth and which were seized in a police raid, were going to be scrapped. But a police officer heard that his local club, and the one he supported, really would love similar lamps for their pitch.

So, he rescued them, went to see the manager and off they went to a grateful groundsman.

FINALLY, may I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and, hopefully a sporting one. If that means getting to two games on Boxing Day then fine - I always considered that a nice present!