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Sheffield United’s museum man lives and breathes a club that has a family connection

John Garrett, pictured in the Legends of the Lane.
John Garrett, pictured in the Legends of the Lane.

John Garrett lives and breathes Sheffield United.

The 50-year-old has worked for the club he loves for the last 20 years.

His job covers a multitude of roles including community engagement, supporter liaison and arranging the fans’ and manager’s forums.

But he is perhaps best known as the driving force behind the club’s superb museum, Legends of the Lane.

But football for John is more than just a game, it is something that gives people a sense of community and place, something that tells us who we are.

He said: “The whole area round here came about as a result of the football club. The roads, the businesses, everything.

“We are just the current custodians of the football club and is is up to us to pass it onto the next generation.”

John can trace his family’s involvement with the club almost to the very beginning of its history.

His grandfather was born in Wales in 1858, but moved to Sheffield in the early 1890s and settled on Club Garden Road in Sharrow, a stone’s throw from the ground.

He started watching the club in 1892, as football was still in its infancy, beginning a family tradition that continues to this day.

John’s dad began watching United as a five or six year old in 1930, and both John and his brother have supported the club all their lives.

And John’s two sons - who have also both worked for the club in some capacity - are now the fourth generation of Blades in his family.

John created Legends of the Lane 18 years ago, a museum which now stands as one of the best in the country.

“We didn’t have much by way of memorabilia, just some England caps, but I used to get them out and marvel at them,” said John.

“I thought it was sad that a club with this history would not have a place that children could go and find out about the people who built this ground.”

“The idea of the museum was to preserve that history and allow other people to find out what we have achieved.”

As part of his research, John says he has stumbled upon countless stories about the luminaries of the club’s past.

Through a pair of old football boots he made contact with the relatives of Walter Bennett, who won the Division One championship for the Blades in 1989.

And in Arbourthorne he found an 1902 FA Cup winners medal still in the possession of the daughter of legendary United goalkeeper Fatty Foulkes.

“I am very proud of the museum and I am very proud of Sheffield,” he says.

“I love my city and I would never live anywhere else. But you ask kids what is Sheffield known for and they might say Arctic Monkey or Jess Ennis - but they don’t know about the birth of the steel industry or our football history.

“I don’t think Sheffield is good enough at shouting from the Vulcan about how good we are.”

John was born in Hackenthorpe but currently lives in Totley, and is due to get married to his second wife Sarah next week.

The ceremony will take place at the ground - of course - but the two massive United fans are only going to take a short honeymoon in Scarborough as they have to be back for Derby County away on October 20.

The author of four books, John’s latest - UTB: In Other Words - will come out in November.