James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: These end of season awards REALLY matter
As the dust begins to settle on Sheffield United's promotion winning season and Chris Wilder and his team prepare for life in the Premier League, The Star's James Shield hands out his end of term awards. The ones that matter. Not player, performance or club man of the year.
Best Away Fans: Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds made the short journey in their numbers, as you would expect. Nottingham Forest also enjoyed a large support, as did Rotherham. But the distances involved, and the fact all four games were either derbies or derbies of sorts, rules them out of contention. So the gong goes to followers of a team who, although they did not sell-out their allocation, still produced a decent enough turn out, applauded United's players when their promotion was all but confirmed and youngsters from the Steelphalt Academy too. Oh, and they also refused to boo David McGoldrick despite the fact he was destined for the Premier League while their own club contemplated relegation. Winners: Ipswich Town.
Finest Pre-Match Anthem (On the road): Booming bass lines and over-excited PA announcers are two of the banes of modern football. Indeed there are times, particularly when the ground is half empty and the fixture has all the sensuous appeal of a night with Gert Bucket, when their presence seems positively absurd. It makes you yearn for the days when the sound of the person next to you belching as a re-heated pie and flat pint of lager wreaks havoc with their system provided the only soundtrack ahead of kick-off. But there is one notable exception. Even though, despite what Roy Green says, they aren't the best team in London or the best team of all. Winners: Millwall.
Biggest Waste of Money: Fortunately he was signed on loan so, despite the fact United paid more in fines for not playing him than they spent to sign David McGoldrick and Mark Duffy combined, Liverpool's Ben Woodburn has been spared the embarrassment of being nominated. Joking aside, the Wales international will probably go on to be a fine player in future. But in the red and white half of the Steel City, he proved about as useful as a can of coke during the squad's promotion celebrations. In any case, this prize was captured before the season had even kicked-off, as anyone who watched him try and fly the drone he had bought specially to film the squad's annual team photo can testify. After blaming its failure to take off on "software updates", he then discovered Bramall Lane was actually in a no fly zone. Winner: Chris Basham.
Most Amazing Turnaround: Sorry Aston Villa, despite coming from three goals down to snatch a draw against United in February, you miss out. That achievement, even though Billy Sharp's hat-trick appeared to have set-up what would surely have been the most eye-catching result of an amazing season for Wilder's side, does not even come close to winning this coveted trophy. Instead, it has been shared by two men who 12 months ago appeared mortal enemies but now, after going head to head throughout the season and more than a couple of times on the touchline too, are the best of bosom buddies. Do not be surprised if one of them enrolls on a crash course in German before they meet again next term: Winners: Chris Wilder and Daniel Farke.
He's Gone All Billy Big Time: I never thought I'd write this. Never in a million years. But nearly two weekends ago, when United's first team squad and staff gathered to watch Leeds play Villa and, when the match finished all square, toast their promotion back to the top-flight, a supposedly down to earth guy wrecked his reputation as a man of the people by uttering four terrifying words. After drinking more Peroni following their League One title triumph 24 months earlier than the entire population of Rome, now he was informing all and sundry "Make mine a Moretti." Suddenly, when the Premier League beckoned, Vigevano's finest wasn't good enough. Winner: Chris Wilder.
Worst Piece of Punditry: No, Sue Smith, United weren't a goalscorer short of winning promotion. Billy Sharp, who became the highest scoring Englishman in the top four divisions this century, did just fine. Clearly, as Gary Rowett suggested, losing their captain and centre-forward par excellence to injury would derail their promotion challenge. To such an extent that, when Sharp was ruled-out with a hamstring injury, they scraped through both the matches he sat out beating Forest 2-0 and Hull City by one more. But the honour really must go to the Leeds player who questioned whether United could handle the pressure after they triumphed at Elland Road in March. They averaged 1.9 points per game after that The Whites, who ultimately finished third, returned a figure of 1.2. Brilliant, Nostradamus. Absolutely brilliant. Winner: Patrick Bamford.