A FANATICAL footballing father and daughter have been plucked from obscurity to be the faces of Sheffield United during the club’s big day out at Wembley.
A picture of father-of-one John Brownhill and his little girl Lauren will greet thousands of fans as they enter the national stadium tomorrow.
Showing the pair decked out in their best red and white attire, arms outstretched, with Lauren celebrating on her dad’s shoulders, the image will be used on giant banners which will be draped over the side of Wembley ahead of the League One play-off final.
The news they would be the stars of the signs came as a shock to chef Mr Brownhill, aged 33, who entered league sponsor npower’s Face of the Play-Offs contest on social networking site Facebook on a whim weeks ago.
The competition invited fans to tell the company their pre-match rituals and Mr Brownhill’s succinct answer - ‘pray’ - proved a winner with the judging panel.
Lifelong Blades supporter Mr Brownhill was then invited to take his daughter for a photoshoot, which took place the week before United sealed their place in the final against Huddersfield Town.
He said: “When we went to the shoot, we didn’t even know if we were going to Wembley. It was before the Stevenage game.
“I feel like it’s destiny because, if I am honest, I only entered the competition by chance because you could win free tickets. I’m going abroad soon and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to afford getting to the game.
“I never expected to win, let alone for us to have our picture on the banner. It’s amazing, I can’t wait to see it on the day. They took a lot of pictures including some of me on my own but I am really happy Lauren is on there too.
“When she was two years old she stood on the ground at Bramall Lane when I took her for a day out to the stadium, and I think she was about four years old when she went to her first game.
“This is the fourth time I have been to Wembley with Sheffield United and I’m just really hoping for a win.”
Sheffield-born Mr Brownhill is currently living in Devon but he has family living in the city and still tries to take his daughter to as many Blades games as possible.
He said: “I was born right around the corner from Bramall Lane and I lived in Sheffield all my life.
“I was a Blade from the day I was born and I used to go to home games all the time until I moved to Devon.
“I still get back for three or four games a year. We go to away matches a lot because there are lots of teams down here.
“Lauren came when we got beaten by Burnley and it’d be nice for her if we managed to win it this time. She’s been a fan all her life, just like me.”
More than 30,000 Blades supporters are expected to flock to the capital to watch United take on Huddersfield Town on Wembley turf. Tickets for the big game were still being snapped up at the club’s Superstore at Bramall Lane yesterday. With just one day remaining, the club is expecting a last-minute rush.