Fan Column: The saddest part of Chris Wilder's Sheffield United exit is that we never got to say 'thank you'

I write postcards to relatives when I go abroad. Writing short missives is a nice thing to do and is the work of moments. In recent years, the only time I have gone beyond describing seaside weather or the quality of fish and chips was when I wrote to Chris Wilder.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:47 pm

After we were promoted to the Championship, I sat down with pen and ink. The gist of it was adulation and sincere thanks comingled with left-handed smudges and carefully apportioned tipp-ex. The good thing about letters - handwritten ones - is that the author does not enjoy recourse to the copy they wrote.

I cannot remember the precise words I used, save for the last line.

What Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said about Chris Wilder as Sheffield United prepare to part company with iconic manager

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Skip months and years forwards to today; Chris Wilder is leaving Sheffield United Football Club. I rarely feel too emotional about these sorts of decisions; football loses its fizz when it is removed from the stadium.

There is something natural and chemical about being in Bramall Lane and reacting together: fan, player, manager. Never in my lifetime have those coordinates aligned so perfectly. That is Wilder's legacy, something more precious but less tangible than two promotions.

Memories and folklore etched onto our collective conscious as vividly as a grandparent marking the height of their growing grandkids on the back of an old door.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder in happier times, after leading his boyhood club to the Premier League: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Chris Wilder is the benchmark against which to judge every future manager. He is the bloke that made the club feel 10 feet tall. And yet, we have shrunk since fans were banned from sporting venues - it is no cheap exaggeration to say that. It is no dramatic failure either; not a sackable offence.

I know that football is only a game, but I cannot believe that Chris Wilder took us to ninth place in the top flight and I - and every other fan - never had a chance to thank him in the ways that fans do.

I feel sad today because this was not the right moment.

Sam Parry, editor of the Dem Blades Fanzine

Not for me. Not for most fans. Not for Chris Wilder. And not, as I am sure, will bear out, for the board and the future of this football club. Nevertheless, it is the moment.

And as I reflect on the closing words I sent to Chris Wilder in 2017, I can scarcely fathom how "ever" has become today.

"Please, don't ever ******* leave."

Sam Parry is the editor of DEM Blades fanzine – visit www.demblades.co.uk for more information, or follow @Dem_Blades on Twitter.