Footy rivalry rises in Sheffield O’Connor family

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SHEFFIELD won’t be the only place divided by football this weekend - for one married couple the promotion battle really could end in one almighty sulk at home.

Tensions will be high in the O’Connor household in Hillsborough - where mum Rachael is a diehard Blade and dad Shaun is a fanatical Owl.

And both admit the nerves are already setting in as their teams prepare to fight for a place in the Championship.

IT support worker Shaun, aged 33, said: “I’m really nervous already.

“It’s one of those things where we can’t talk - we haven’t spoken about it since Saturday because we just can’t talk about it!”

Rachael - mum to Alana, nine, four-year-old Evie and newborn Alfie - said: “I predict one of us - Shaun - will be very unhappy! If Wednesday lose he will be in a right mood.

“I remember when it was the 2009 derby and we took the girls to Butlins for the weekend. My parents took the girls off so we could watch the match.

“United won - and there was an atmosphere for the rest of the holiday!”

Rachael, despite being brought up in Hillsborough, has always followed her father’s footsteps to be a Blade.

Shaun, who hails from Handsworth, was an Owl from an early age.

But it seems opposites really do attract as the pair – who have been debating their differences ever since meeting five years ago - both come from families split by the beautiful game.

Shaun said: “Two of my brothers are Blades and it used to come to blows sometimes!

“It was good preparation - but Rachael is harder than they are.”

Tomorrow the couple, of Oakland Road, Hillsborough, will watch the results come in on television rather than going to the games, as they didn’t know when Alfie, who is just 10 days old, would arrive.

But in future their undecided children, including Evie who met Blades’ stars in hospital at Christmas, can expect to make some tough decisions.

Rachael, 30, said: “We will let them make their own minds up. Alana does have a season ticket for United - although I let her go to Hillsborough too because they need to see a certain style of football.”