PROMINENT Blades fans have thrown their support behind Sheffield United’s bright young hopes, who travel to Manchester tonight for the second leg of the FA Youth Cup Final.
At least 6,000 loyal supporters will cross the Pennines tonight to see their under 18s side take on the Red Devils at Old Trafford.
And after a disappointing season, which saw their senior team relegated to League One, the Bramall Lane faithful are hoping for something to cheer about.
Former Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton, a Blades fan since the age of six, will be at Old Trafford.
He told The Star: “The whole of this season has been one long groan so everyone’s really got behind the youth team.
“It’s come very late in the season but it’s something to celebrate at last.
“There was real disappointment when we let young players like Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker go, so hopefully we can bring some of this lot on.”
Paul, who lives in Manchester, said: “The real Man United fans take quite an interest in the youth system because it has produced people like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes over the years, so there should be quite a crowd.”
Former United manager Neil Warnock, a lifelong fan, said: “I remember some of these lads from when I was at the club. They were just little squirts then!
“It is a real testament to the size and standing of the club and the fans that they can achieve this kind of success, even with the season they have just had.
“It’s great for the club and great for the fans, and anyone who has been involved with the club over the last few years will be very proud.
“When I arrived at Bramall Lane there was no academy, and I think any other club would have wanted to spend the £5 million on players.
“But because Kevin McCabe and myself were Blades fans we wanted to create a lasting legacy.”
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, a United season ticket holder for more than 40 years, said: “The success of the youth team has been the only highlight in a dismal season.
“I wish I could be at Old Trafford but I’ll be in Parliament on Monday night and will be checking my phone to get the score. Come on you Blades!”
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore was at the first leg at Bramall Lane with her family.
“This is great for the city. To have homegrown talent holding their own against one of the best youth sides in the world is brilliant,” she said.
“I have split loyalties because I was brought up a Wednesdayite but my husband and two sons are both Blades. My older son Jim, who is 20, will be going to Old Trafford.
“The whole city has got behind this young team - not least because even Wednesdayites want to see Man United share out the success a little bit.”
n TRAVELLING fans are being warned to factor in plenty of time to get to Old Trafford for the 7.30pm kick-off tonight, because Manchester City are holding a parade to celebrate their FA Cup win.