FOOTBALL fans in Sheffield are gearing up for a promotion battle this weekend as thousands of supporters prepare to pack out football stadiums at home and away to cheer on their teams.
On Saturday, Sheffield Wednesday take on Wycombe Wanderers at Hillsborough - and if they win, they will gain promotion to the Championship.
Meanwhile Sheffield United have fallen to third place behind the Owls and travel to Exeter knowing they must take advantage of any slip-up by their closest rivals.
More than 1,500 Blades fans are heading down to the South coast for the weekend, and fully-booked coaches will also ferry supporters to and from the match.
Alan Smith, Kiveton Park branch secretary for the Sheffield United supporters’ club, said he will be travelling to Exeter in a people carrier as part of a group of five fans.
“It was extremely difficult to get tickets, a lot of people didn’t qualify for them,” he said, adding he thought United’s prospects for the game weren’t good.
“I think we’re not going to go up, because of the Ched Evans affair I just don’t think we’ve got enough up front to come up with a result.”
Alan said: “Wednesday fans will be celebrating, but there’s only one team that can go up until the play-offs are decided.
“It could change, but it’s always the last hurdle that Sheffield United let themselves down.”
Mick Rooker, promotions manager for the Blades, said 1,700 tickets were allocated to fans for the Exeter match, selling out immediately.
“We’re only sending two coaches down because most people are going for the weekend, and the coaches are fully booked,” he said.
“A lot of people are booked into hotels for the weekend because it’s a bank holiday, they’re making a mini-break of it.”
Pete Whitney, head of Sheffield United’s official supporters’ club, said: “We’re driving down on Friday morning, staying in an Exeter hotel on Saturday night and travelling back on Sunday morning. The fans will give them plenty of support, the away support have been fantastic, as the team have been in all fairness.
“We were hoping this time it would be a promotion celebration, but that’s no longer in our hands. Various things have happened to the club that we can’t do anything about. Danny Wilson has done a marvellous job, irrespective of how the season has gone.”
Many Owls fans wore fancy dress for the away game at Brentford which they won 2-1 to put them in the promotion driving seat.
But Chris White, chairman of the Sheffield Wednesday Disabled Supporters’ Association, said Owls fans should not become ‘too confident’ ahead of the promotion decider.
“I think a lot of supporters think it’s a done thing but I don’t think it is. We’ve been down these roads before but hopefully we can do it, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t,” he said.
Crowds of up to 38,000 are expected to pack out Hillsborough, Chris added. “It’s probably our biggest game of the last 10 years.”