Blades fan Chris Dewick was just 11 years old when Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the 2006/07 season. His anguish was caught on camera as he leaned on his dad Philip’s shoulder, tears streaming down his face.
Fourteen years on, Chris is in his mid-20s and United have just been relegated again. The feeling is slightly different, with a return to the Championship having a feeling of inevitability for so long. But it doesn’t get any easier to stomach.
Father and son recreated the pose, Philip even dusting off the same jacket he was wearing at Bramall Lane in May 2007, and Chris posted it on Twitter. The photo has been shared widely and at the time of writing, has been ‘liked’ almost 14,000 times.
“I wanted to re-create the picture as a light hearted joke,” Chris told The Star.
“Sheffield football this past year has suffered, with both clubs getting relegated and with fans not being able to get into grounds due to the pandemic.
“The majority of us Blades fans probably know we’ve been down for months now, so the heartbreak probably isn’t as surprising as it was back in 2007, but I thought it a way of perhaps putting a smile back on the faces of Sheffield footballing fans after the torrid time we’ve been through the last season and a bit.
“And maybe some smiles on fans faces amongst the wider footballing community after what’s been going off in the footballing world as well.”
Chris admits he only expected to get a few likes on Twitter for the photograph, and has been “totally blown away” by the response.
“I’d say 99 per cent of the response has been positive, by the way,” he said, “which is always nice to see.”
Chris and his dad are both Sheffielders, Philip now living in Maltby and his son since moving to Wombwell, and both hope to be back at Bramall Lane soon – even if United are once again facing up to life in the Championship.
“It’s been a pretty tough time, both on and off the pitch,” Chris added.
“There have been purple patches where you’ve thought: ‘Maybe we could kick on’. But it wasn’t to be.
“It’s the hope that kills you. But now we’re relegated and it’s over and done with I just hope we can start now preparing for life in the Championship, and giving that a good go next season.”
United spent only one season in the Premier League back in 2006/07, after being promoted under Neil Warnock. They were cruelly relegated on the last day when, only needing a point to survive, they lost 2-1 at home to Wigan and relegation rivals West Ham sealed an unlikely win at Manchester United.
The Blades then spent 12 years out of the top flight – six in the wilderness of League One – before they bounced back in style, with two promotions in three seasons under Chris Wilder.
United’s bid for a fairy tale place in Europe was scuppered by the coronavirus lockdown, and their long-inevitable relegation was confirmed at the weekend with defeat at Wolves.