Steel City derby: Sheffield United fan's 3,000-mile round-trip to the "game that means everything"

Meet Brian Wise - the fan who must have made one of the longest trips to be at tomorrow's Steel City Derby.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 11:12 am
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 11:15 am
Bar El Bosque owner Brian Wise

Brian has travelled 1,500 miles from Spain to be at Bramall Lane as the Blades look to secure a second victory over the Owls in just four months.

But even when he is back in the Med, Brian is never far from the action.

Bar El Bosque owner Brian Wise (pictured left) with former Sheffield Unied footballer Glenn Cockerill and friend Gary Birch.

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He runs the Bar El Bosque in the resort of Nerja, near Malaga, and you don’t have to look far to find out which football team he supports.

Sheffield United shirts fill the walls of the sports bar. The bar is known by locals as “The Blades Bar” - and it’s not just memorabilia you might find in there.

Former United players such as Brian Gayle and Glenn Cockerill have also enjoyed a pint or two.

Brian, originally from Attercliffe, said: “I moved out to Nerja 15 years ago. I’ve worked out in holiday resorts before and I just prefer the lifestyle.

Former Sheffield United physio Derek French

“I first worked in Lloret de Mar in 1980 and then I did seven years out in Corfu. I just love it.”

Visitors to his bar have also included former United physio Derek French as well as countless Blades fans over the years.

Brian has been following his beloved team since 1963 and also has close ties with the heart of the club - he describes Blades manager Chris Wilder as a “good friend”.

“I first met Chris when I used to work on the doors of Josephine’s nightclub in Sheffield in between working away,” he said.

Former footballer Frank McClintock pictured with Bar El Bosque owner Brian Wise.

“United brought him up from Southampton and told him to go the gym to put some weight on.

“He used to go to a gym at the bottom of Arundel Gate so I used to see a lot of him.

“I still text him and stuff like that but we used to hang about in a lot of the same places in Sheffield.”

Brian travelled across Spain to the Blades pre-season tour in Marbella last summer and met up with the squad and manager.

Bar El Bosque owner Brian Wise (pictured left) with former Sheffield Unied footballer Glenn Cockerill and friend Gary Birch.

“There were about 150 Blades fans there and Chris came over and did a question and answer session and at the end he turned to me and asked how the bar was going,” he said.

“He said he was going to try and get everyone up for a drink and I said if he did the first one would be on me - thankfully they didn’t make it up because there were loads of them out there.”

Although he admitted he was a little nervous for Chris when he was appointed manager of his boyhood club in May 2016, he said he was delighted with the job he was doing.

“He has done a great job and he understands the club just like any other fan and I think that shows with how passionate he is.”

Despite his business commitments abroad, Brian has only missed one Steel City derby since 1963 and it wasn’t for the want of trying.

He landed in the UK on Wednesday afternoon and is spending a few days with his mum in Parson Cross as well as taking in the big game.

Former Sheffield United physio Derek French

“The derby means everything. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ve only ever missed one since 1963 and that was because our flight was cancelled because of the volcano in Iceland,” he said.

“I am 64 but I still feel like a kid at Christmas when we play them. It’s the only thing that makes me excited.”

Asked for his prediction, optimistic Brian initially suggested a 4-1 win for the Blades.

He said: “I think it could be either really close or we will hammer them. I don’t think there will be an in between.”

Former footballer Frank McClintock pictured with Bar El Bosque owner Brian Wise.