Forged in Steel became the tagline of Sheffield United’s league winning, record breaking season as they stormed to the League One title.
Corny it may be, but with Blades fans as chairman, manager and captain, the club is thriving after embracing its role within the city.
Thousands of fans followed the open-top bus yesterday as it carried the first team squad and backroom staff from Bramall Lane to a civic reception at the Town Hall. And it was manager Chris Wilder, a Blade through and through, who led most of the songs.
Speaking before the party had fully begun, he highlighted the connection United now have with Sheffield as a key factor behind this season’s success.
“There has to be a connection,” he said.
“There is a long history of local people being involved in this club.
“Living in the city, I had an idea in terms of how the supporters were thinking. What they needed and wanted.
“We have to make decisions, but we understand and we know, living in the city, what this football club means and how we should go about it to reconnect with the supporters.”
And connect Wilder has, beating the club crest over his heart at the end of games in a show of solidarity with his fellow fans.
Success under Wilder, who replaced Nigel Adkins last summer, is the change chairman Kevin McCabe hoped for when he put his faith in a local lad.
Yesterday McCabe said his manager understood the ‘ethos and spirit’ of the club, so there was ‘no learning curve’. He praised the support throughout the season, right up to yesterday’s parade.
“Look at the red and white shirts in Sheffield,” he said. “During this awful period in League One we built up this better core of support. To get the crowds we have been getting and to see 31,000 in Bramall Lane on Sunday says it all.”
Also enjoying the celebration were the many staff who work in the background at Bramall Lane, and the families of the players - most of whom have to get used to a new city as they relocate to Sheffield.
But United also boast several academy graduates, who grew up watching their team before eventually going on to play for them.
“It means so much to everyone involved,” said goalkeeper George Long.
“I had a season ticket all my life, until I didn’t need one any more. Going up, as a Blades fan, with Billy Sharp as captain this season, has just been outstanding.
“It’s been special for all the lads. They all know what it means, regardless of where it comes from. They all feel how special it is for the fans.”
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