I’ve always liked Easter. Nothing to do with religion of course, but everything to do with an extra long weekend combined with a mountain of chocolate eggs.
In our household, with me as a chocoholic Dad, my kids learnt to hide their own Easter eggs! Football wise, it’s a busy time as well, and this weekend will live long in the memory of Blades everywhere. Yes, the Easter weekend of 2017 was something very special.
In recent history, the only cross Sheffield United supporters have had to bear at Easter is the one of actually being a Blade in the first place! It’s a time when our cup and promotion dreams usually fade and sometimes even die. But this team, this year, have changed all that.
It’s actually close to miraculous that we have risen from being nearly dead and buried at the bottom of the league in August to the where we proudly sit today. Actually, in Blades fans' eyes, it IS a footballing miracle.
Port Vale was the next stop on the promotion train and it predictably didn’t slow down one jot, thundering to a 3-0 win. At the front stoking the engine, demanding “full speed ahead” and driving the whole show, Chris Wilder had already set a new destination. The league champions title was somewhere down the line and we didn’t have to wait long to reach it.
Bolton couldn’t keep up the pace and the inevitable champions party started with glorious scenes of our players' riotous celebrations and jubilation at the training ground. At times like these, the internet and social media is a truly great thing as we were all there with them smiling and singing along, and getting sprayed with virtual champagne!
So all in all, it was job well and truly done. Surely now everyone could take a breather, relax and stroll through the last three games? Not so. Not under this management, and not with the mentality installed into this group of players. A new destination of 100 points suddenly appeared on the timetable, along with various club records that would be broken along the way.
First stop was Bradford City, and another emphatic 3-0 win was due reward for some incisive top-quality attacking football combined with clinical finishing, that in truth was the difference between the sides. The game was as good as over at half-time and what a superb advert for Sheffield United it turned out to be, as a live Sky TV audience must have marvelled at the show everyone in the stadium contributed to, both on and off the pitch.
The quality of the football must have come as a bit of a shock to the audience watching at home, as typical League One fare it certainly wasn’t! The scenes after the game with the lap of honour were just fabulous, and to a man the squad and management team took their bow and soaked up the richly deserved applause. It was a fitting end to a fantastic, brilliant, remarkable season.
Except for one thing... it’s not the end! MK Dons away and Chez at home are still to come! However, I’m going to roll back the years and now speak in the shoes (or boots) of a player again, as for the players who’ve toiled so hard and achieved so much this season, it’s over. It’s done and dusted. Finished. Mission more than accomplished. Chris and various players will trot out the standard quotes in the media that we’ve all heard before, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter to the players if we go up as Champions with 100 points, 94 points, or even if we’d scraped it with a lot less. They’re the League One champions, full stop.
Do us fans really care about 100 points either? Great if it happens, not too bothered if it doesn’t to be honest. There’s thousands of Blades having an MK away day party this Saturday, and the final score won’t be top of our agenda! Play some squad players. Play some lads who backed up the team so superbly behind the first team scenes. Give them an invite and a taste of the party. They’ll probably still win anyway!
What us fans do care about is having two more games in which to sing, dance, cheer and celebrate. It will be two weeks and two games of sheer joy, of Shoreham boys making all the noise, gallons of Magnet, nights out in Sheffield, Eddie Colquhoun, Billy Sharp, and hundreds of magic hats, climaxing in a trophy being held aloft on Sunday April 30. I’m having a party that night as well, so I’ll be thinking of pints, not points. Maybe not quite 100 either, but I’ll do my best!
Kevin Gage owns The Manor House: bar/hotel/cafe, High St, Dronfield. @ManorHouse_S18. Follow him on twitter: @gageykev