‘It will be nice to prove a few people wrong’ – Sheffield United fans welcome Premier League back to Bramall Lane
Sheffield United fans welcomed Premier League football back to Bramall Lane in style as the Blades took on Crystal Palace in their first top flight home game in 12 years.
Hundreds of excited fans were at the ground from early on Sunday, with thousands more making their way to the stadium more slowly via the pubs of London Road or the city centre.
The overall mood was one of celebration and pride at the club’s achievement, but there was also a quiet confidence that the Blades may well surprise a few people this season.
Trevor Walker, aged 54 from Wath-upon-Dearne, was there with his son Dylan, 17.
“It is absolutely fantastic,” said Trevor.
“It is such an achievement from the dark days of League One. Chris Wilder has just come in and changed the club totally with his enthusiasm.”
Like many Blades, Trevor said the recent criticism of the club from so-called expert pundits had just made them more determined to show the world what they can do.
“The pundits get paid to give opinions but they don’t do their research,” he said.
“It will be nice to prove a few people wrong. I think we will stay up and have a good go.”
Fans who had supported the team for decades seemed as excited as those who were attending their first game.
Rodger Howard, aged 75 from Deepcar, said he had been following United for over 30 years.
“I have just been saying I think we will get beaten sometimes but I think we will stay up,” said Rodger.
“Today I think there will be very little in it and one goal will separate the teams.”
As Rodger predicted, the match saw United edge a tight game one-nil with John Lundstram scoring the winner two minutes into the second half.
For all the optimism, nagging away at the back of some fans’ mind’s were memories of the way the Blades were robbed of their Premier League status the last time.
76-year-old Michael Wade from Eckington - who said he had been supporting United ‘since Jimmy Hagan’s days’ - remembered it all too well.
“If teams field weakened sides in the County Senior League they get docked five points,” he said, bitterly.
But most felt that this time, under the inspirational management of Chris Wilder, things would be different.
“Wilder is a really special guy,” said Matthew Dewhurst, aged 20.
“He is just so passionate and wants what is best for the club. It is not just a job, it is where he wants to be.”