Sheffield FC legend Matt Roney can’t wait to lock horns with boyhood club Sheffield United in testimonial after 13 years at Club

Matt Roney meets Pele before taking on Inter at Bramall Lane
Matt Roney meets Pele before taking on Inter at Bramall Lane
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Only a select few players can consider themselves legends at any club, and it takes a very special player to be considered a legend at a club that has more history than any other.

But Matt Roney earns that title, and then some. 

Matt Roney of Sheffield FC and Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd

Matt Roney of Sheffield FC and Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd

The only man in Club’s 161-year history to have been awarded a testimonial, Roney will walk out at the Coach and Horses ground he has called his footballing home for 13 years on Tuesday.

This time, though, it’ll be different – lining up against his boyhood team, Sheffield United.

“It’s hard to put into words how it’ll feel,” Roney smiles, as he looks forward to the showpiece event of his well-earned testimonial year.

“I’ve visualised it so many times in my head, but it won’t feel real until it gets underway. A full house at the Coach and Horses against my boyhood club, with Chris Wilder in the opposition dugout and Gary Sinclair on the microphone… I can’t ask for any more. It will be a night for me and my family to be proud of.

Club legend Matt Roney

Club legend Matt Roney

“I’m not sure how much of a test it’ll be for United, considering our start to the season, but I’m just hoping there’s a good crowd and everyone comes away thinking ‘that was worth the entrance fee’. I’m putting on something I know I’d go and watch, with a couple of ex-pros and people I’ve kept in contact with.

“And I’m going to chuck a Wednesday fan up front for the last ten minutes and watch him get heckled.”

Lining up alongside that Owls fan, former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan and a close friend of Roney’s, are former Blades favourites Paddy Kenny, Chris Morgan and Michael Brown, with more players to be confirmed in the build-up. 

All will turn up to honour Roney, an unassuming bloke who is a genuine giant of non-league football. With 485 competitive appearances for Sheffield FC under his belt, and many more if friendly games are taken into account, Roney remarkably still remembers his Club debut - a man of the match display in a Sheffield & Hallamshire Cup game at home to Hollinsend Amateurs, which they won 3-0 – and played for Club against Inter Milan in 2007, in front of almost 20,000 fans.

“I’m hoping I get to the 500 mark this season, touch wood,” he smiles. “Hopefully it’ll be a night to remember and hopefully the United lads will get a bit of a kick out of it in the international break. 

“Personally I haven’t featured yet this season, I haven’t been 100 per cent, bit I’m back training full-time now and I’ve always been a slow starter after pre-season… my body takes time to recover! 

“But I know what I can offer and so does the manager, so when I’m needed I’ll happily step up. I’ve still got the buzz for it – I still wake up wanting to train and play, even if I’ve had a tough day at work. I still want to be in that squad for Saturday.”

When we meet, however, it is golf rather than football on Roney’s mind, at his corporate day at Lees Hall Golf Club.

Blades manager Wilder brought a team, including skipper Billy Sharp and Paul Coutts, while Sheffield Wednesday coach Lee Bullen and goalkeeping coach Nicky Weaver represented the blue half of the Steel City.

Rivals united behind a good cause.

“Organising and pulling together golf teams was one thing but getting sponsors and auction raffle prizes was another,” he smiles. “I've had help from close friends but it's something I've visualised myself, and I wanted to do it my way.

“I’ve pestered a lot of famous people for auction items and they’ve come up trumps, so I can’t thank everyone that’s helped me enough.

“I didn’t want to over-do it with events, and for a non-league footballer I think I’ve done okay. Richie Humphreys came to the golf day and he said when he was at Hartlepool, he put on five or six events and it was a bit of an overkill.

“For a non-league player to have this sort of support is really humbling.”

And well deserved, I suggest.

“I just try and be myself and do what I can do for people," Roney shrugs.

“I seem to have got a good reputation, touch wood, and people seem to back me. For me and my family it’s been a long six months or so building this up.

“It was a couple of years in the pipeline, even before Chris got the United job… would he bring a team up if he did? Everything has fallen into place nicely.”

United have pledged to bring a strong squad for the clash, with Paul Coutts scheduled to make his first appearance since last November when he broke his leg at Burton, but more importantly the testimonial will raise vital funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

“It’s a charity close to my heart,” Roney reveals.

“My girlfriend’s best friends passed away from lymphoma cancer and it’s been a tough year for her and her friends, but we saw what they did in the last couple of months of treatment and how they went about their business.

“I just want to raise as much as I can and it’s great that they’re coming to the events and explaining what they do. What we saw Macmillan do was unbelievable, so we wanted to raise money and awareness.

“And Couttsy? I’d pay to watch him, for sure. He makes the boys tick and he’s a massive loss. I’ve been around the block a little bit in my career but if I get to play against him on Tuesday night, that’s another box ticked.”

Sheffield FC v Sheffield United, Tuesday September 4 2018, Coach and Horses Dronfield. Tickets on the gate, priced £8 adults and £4 concessions. For more information visit www.sheffieldfc.com.