Sheffield Derby: Why Sky Sports owe the city of Sheffield a proper apology after their Remembrance gaffe wrongly painted Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fans in a ‘disrespectful’ light

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The early November rain fell uninterrupted on the Bramall Lane roof, only seeming to fade away as bugler Glyn Boyington played a poignant Last Post before 30,000 silent fans.

For a fleeting few moments, before the 130th Steel City Derby, colours didn't matter. Here, Sheffield was united; Blades and Owls, red and blue, to pay their respects to our fallen heroes on the centenary armistice anniversary.

Wreaths were laid at both ends of the Bramall Lane field by the captains of United and Wednesday, with members of the armed forces invited to take part in the Remembrance ceremony. 

Save for a brief period of confusion after the playing of the Reveille, Sheffielders did themselves proud by uniting, on a night that divides the city more than any other.

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Away from Sheffield city centre, though, a different narrative was developing. As Sky Sports broadcast the poignant Remembrance celebrations, they somehow contrived to pipe crowd noise into their feed. The watching world saw Glyn Boyington's Last Post. And apparently heard hundreds and thousands of fans cheering through it.

Let's be clear. That didn't happen. Hundreds of eye-witnesses and dozens of mobile phone recordings easily corroborate this, but by then the damage had done. Viewers all across the country were misled into thinking that people of Sheffield had chanted through the tribute - and, to compound their mistake, Sky's feed is taken by broadcasters outside the UK, so the footage - and associated, artificial sound - is understood to have gone worldwide.

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A lie, as they say, can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes and within moments of Sky's error, social media exploded with outrage - all pointed very much at the Steel City.

'You are all absolute scum' offered one Swindon Town fan. 'Watched it back twice," he later added. "Clear as day. Both sets of fans totally disrespectful."

Captain Blade with Remembrance corner flag during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Captain Blade with Remembrance corner flag during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Those comments were hastily deleted when Sky Sports' official Twitter account later tweeted a half-explanation of their mistake. 

"We are aware that some viewers experienced audio issues during the playing of the Last Post prior to the Sheffield derby," it read. "We apologise unreservedly for this regrettable technical error."

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Regrettable is just the start of it and, coming around an hour and 20 minutes after the 'error', the damage was already done. On a night that the Steel City clubs united under the banner of 'Sheffield Remembers', this seems to be an episode that won't be forgotten in a hurry.

Players from both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday line up for a minute's silence: James Wilson/Sportimage

Players from both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday line up for a minute's silence: James Wilson/Sportimage

One fan reported his wife being so furious with the episode, the left the room before kick-off and didn't return. "She thought some fans were being disrespectful," he added. "I told her the morning after it was Sky's fault. I didn't realise how much it upset her."

The theme of outrage continued. Another Blades supporter insisted the ground was in silence from start to finish of the tribute, adding: "Disgraceful from Sky. Imagine old veterans and widows watching match from home on TV (like my Dad used to). 

"Disrespectful, upsetting and out of order. Why Sky? Dad would have been disgusted."

A follow-up tweet was posted on the Sky Sports account at 10.37am on Remembrance Sunday, sandwiched between an advert for Saturday's Championship goals and a stat post about the most clean sheets in the Scottish Premier League this season.

"Unreserved apology for the technical error that led to audio playing over the Last Post. Both clubs...and their fans were impeccable ahead of the derby. Sorry to have marred it for viewers at home."

The Star understands that Sky have subsequently apologised privately to both United and Wednesday, and offered a technical explanation. But, bar two tweets, no apology has been made to ordinary Sheffielders.

Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd and Tom Lees of Sheffield Wednesday carry out wreaths ahead of the Steel City Derby: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd and Tom Lees of Sheffield Wednesday carry out wreaths ahead of the Steel City Derby: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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On Sunday, thousands of them defied the rain to gather around the cenotaph in Barker's Pool, and silently remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country.

As the Town Hall clock timed 11am, the rain temporarily stopped and a brief glimmer of sunshine broke through.

But Sky's mistake has cast a cloud over an entire city.

One, it should be remembered, which made a great contribution to and suffered greatly from the conflict. On the first day of The Battle of the Somme alone, in 1916, almost 5,000 Sheffield Pals - made up mainly of businessmen, clerics, journalists, schoolteachers and students from across the city of steel - lost their lives, and the number of Sheffielders affected in some way will total many, many thousand more.

That is why Friday's mark of respect at Bramall Lane was impeccably observed. That is why Sheffielders have been so outraged to have been painted as anything but. And that is why The Star believes Sky Sports owes the city of Sheffield a proper apology - and certainly more than a few token lines on its Twitter feed.

*The Star has contacted Sky Sports for comment.

Shirt detail during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. Picture date 09th November 2018. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Shirt detail during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. Picture date 09th November 2018. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis/Sportimage