IMAGINE both Sheffield clubs pushing for promotion.
They’re neck and neck until the final week of the season.
There’s a buzz around the city. Everyone’s talking about football – or if they’re not, they’re talking about not talking about football.
It gets under everyone’s skin. United or Wednesday, red or blue, Blade or Owl. There’s no middle ground.
Eventually one team falters. The other pulls away and celebrates their achievement, mocking their bitter rivals in the process.
But the story hasn’t ended. The losers have another chance. In some ways it is an even more exciting prospect. The opportunity to play at Wembley with the prize of joining their neighbours in the division above just 90 minutes away.
At this time last year a scenario like that would have been laughed at.
The Blades were in disarray as relegation to League One was confirmed.
Wednesday were beginning to show signs of life, but it was more in hope than expectation that their fans thought things were going to be better this season.
And then from the depths of despair Sheffield football has become reinvigorated.
True, not everything in the garden is rosy. United have been through some serious pain this season on and off the field. But this game is a funny thing.
It only takes one goal, one win, one great result for fortunes to change.
United were a basket case until the play-off semi-final win over Stevenage. Now they’re going into the final against Huddersfield full of confidence that they can get the better of the Terriers shaky defence.
If when the fixtures come on June 18 there are two Sheffield derbies in the Championship to look forward to that can only be a good thing.
At the current time in their histories the clubs need each other. Remember how this season started? A joint shirt sponsorship deal provided a boost to the commercial departments in S2 and S6.
I’m not advocating that the clubs should work together. It’s more that on certain occasions, for the greater good, tribal loyalties should be put aside.
I’m also not saying that Blades fans or Wednesdayites should even cheer for their rival to succeed.
It just makes sense that if United do go up then it will be good for the city of Sheffield. People will have to just swallow their bitterness and look forward to next season.
We shouldn’t be in this position. No one has a right to Premier League football but Sheffield should have both of its clubs in the top flight.
The argument should be who is finishing above the other and is challenging for European football, not laughing at who is still in League One.
Pipe dream? Not really. For anyone over the age of 20 it is a footballing tragedy that Wigan, Fulham, Stoke, Swansea, Norwich, West Brom, Sunderland and, in some ways, Newcastle can all lord it over us at the moment.
Football changes though. Wednesday are already talking about back-to-back promotions.
Why not a year with both going for the same goal? It has been a while since that happened, about three weeks in fact. Let’s enjoy it all over again.