Sheffield United: Chris Wilder is '˜honoured' to help Matt Roney celebrate his testimonial
Despite competing six rungs below them on the footballing ladder, Chris Wilder says Sheffield United are honoured to visit Sheffield FC for Matt Roney's testimonial.
Although the promise of watching Paul Coutts' return to action will beÂ the biggest drawÂ for most travelling fans, tomorrow's match is designed to celebrate Roney's remarkable 13 year spell with the non-league outfit who compete in the Evo-Stik Division One East.
"Sheffield has got great rivalry between the two professional clubs but it shouldn't be forgotten what else is going on," Wilder said. "That rivalry shouldn't extend in to everything else. "I've known Matt a long time, he's a great bloke and for him to play 500 games for the world's oldest club is a remarkable achievement. Seriously, don't under-estimate that.Â "I've got no problems taking our team there. Really, it's our honour to do it. We aren't aloof or anything like that." Wilder's words, combined with his decision to name Coutts in a strong United squad, is a reflection of both his respect for Roney and the grassroots game. The midfielder, who has not played since fracturing a leg in November, is expected to scheduled to play at least a half before continuing his rehabilitation over the international break.
However, Wilder's comments also mark the latest phase of his campaign to position United as the city's people's club. Having played for and now managed the team he has supported since childhood, Wilder wants Bramall Lane to become the destÂ ination of choice for football lovers across the region and, just as importantly, a social as well as sporting force.
"Because we are in the centre of the city, because our ground is right at the heart, we expand into all areas of it," he said. "It's important we are part of the community, that we represent and help where we can.
'That's what we are; a part of the community and proud of it too.'
"Whatever level of football, be it grassroots or junior level, we've got to make sure we support it," Wilder added. "Hopefully, with Couttsy making his comeback here, they'll be a great crowd and our followers will get right behind it because, like I say, Matt deserves that after what he's achieved."
A number of former United and Sheffield FC players are also set to take part in the fixture, which takes place at the Coach and Horses Stadium, Dronfield. (Kick-off 7.30pm). Tickets priced Â£8 adults and Â£4 concessions are available on the turnstiles.Â