Steel City Derby Retro: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sheffield United 3 - March 11, 1992 | 30 year wait comes to an end for Blades
It had been a long time coming, but it tasted sweet when it finally arrived.
Before March 11, 1992 Sheffield United hadn’t done ‘the double’ of their arch rivals for 30 years and given the way respective seasons had been going, this wasn’t expected to be a derby night in which that long wait would come to an end.
United had won the previous match 2-0 at Bramall Lane and in The Star the night of this particular clash, Owls boss Trevor Francis was quoted as saying: “We have been looking forward to this game. I think you’ll see a different Sheffield Wednesday this time.”
Danny Wilson, then playing for Wednesday added: “All the lads are disappointed with the way we played at Bramall Lane. United were more determined than us. They didn’t have a lot to beat.
“I’m sure it will be very different this time.”
Wednesday had spent the majority of the campaign at the top end of the table. Indeed, they were still in the hunt for the First Division title, even if the team were talking that down and concentrating on securing a European spot.
Still, 10 points wasn’t an unassailable lead held by Leeds United.
Meanwhile, United had spent much of that season hovering a lot closer to the bottom.
However, while at one point it appeared as though they may be destined for relegation, a superb run of results shortly after the turn of the year lifted them away from danger.
So there was certainly no trepidation in the Blades camp as they headed for Hillsborough.
Paul Beesley said before the game: “If you look at the league table you can see why Wednesday are favourites. But then we were the underdogs in November and won and now we are playing better.”
Manager Dave Bassett added: “I have no need to wind-up my players. They know what it means to the club and to the fans. If anyone doesn’t understand the passion and importance of a derby match they shouldn’t be playing.”
It took just four minutes of the game for United to show they truly had the necessary derby day passion, in front of 40,327 fans at Hillsborough.
Dane Whitehouse was the man who opened the scoring to send the visiting support into raptures.
Midway through the half it was 2-0 when Chris Woods’ howler allowed the ball to bounce kindly into the path of new signing Bobby Davison and the striker knocked it in with ease.
Phil King pulled one back for the home side, via a deflection, soon after the break to breathe life into the Owls who had been given few chances thanks to the efforts of the United backline and Brian Gayle in particular.
However, the two-goal advantage was restored when John Gannon crossed for Davison to brilliantly head in his second of the night.
It was his first appearance at the start of a short-term loan from Leeds United and what an impression to make.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting to be playing in a Sheffield derby a week ago!” he admitted after the game.
Wednesday fans left in their droves, leaving the red and white side of the city to celebrate at Hillsborough.
“It was a magnificent performance from the lads,” said defender Paul Beesley.
“We came here expecting a hard game and we couldn’t have done any more on the night.
“Every individual from 1 to 11 worked their hearts out and ran for each other and that got us through.
“To win any derby match, be it 1-0, 2-0 or 3-1 is just great.”
The words of Bassett afterwards resonate still to this day and are even more significant with the first derby since February 2012 coming up this weekend.
“A lot of people don’t realise that Sheffield is a passionate city,” he said. “They keep talking about Liverpool or Manchester and all these other places. But they have forgotten about Sheffield because there haven’t been any derbies here for a long time.
“Well it’s about time people realised that Sheffield derbies are as important, as volatile and as passionate as any in the country.
“I’m not a Sheffield Wednesday hater.
“Yes, I want to win and I’m delighted we’ve won but games such as these are brilliant. Having them is good for the city and good for the people of Sheffield.”
United would go on to finish that campaign in ninth position having feared the drop at one point, while Wednesday finished third, seven points behind champions Leeds, with qualification for the Uefa Cup also secured.
Wednesday: Woods, Nilsson, King, Palmer, Anderson, Shirtliff, Wilson (Jemson 69), Hyde, Hirst, Williams, Pearson (Harkes 72).
United: Tracey, Gage, Barnes, Gannon, Gayle, Beesley, Rogers, Bradshaw, Davison (Cork 80), Deane, Whitehouse, (Hodges 64).