The day I watched my Sheffield United win promotion at Northampton - from the away dugout, next to Chris Wilder!

Richard Glossop with Chris Wilder in the Sixfields dugoutRichard Glossop with Chris Wilder in the Sixfields dugout
Richard Glossop with Chris Wilder in the Sixfields dugout
For most Sheffield United fans, April 8, 2017 is a day they will never forget.

After six years in League One, it was the day they finally escaped its clutches and won promotion back to the Championship – under one of their own in Chris Wilder.

Thousands of Blades were at Sixfields to watch the Blades beat Northampton Town 2-1 and seal promotion. But one was lucky enough to watch the final few minutes of the game from the best possible vantage point – the Blades dug out.

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Here, in an excerpt from the book ‘He’s one of our own’, Blade Richard Glossop takes up his story.


Saturday, April 8 will be a day that stays with me for the rest of my life; the day that Sheffield United, my Sheffield United, finally gained promotion from the abyss of League One.

But what made it even more special, as thousands of Blades fans celebrated on the pitch and Billy Sharp was chaired off the pitch with his red and white scarf proudly hoisted above his head, was that I wasn’t even supposed to be there. It took a chance text message on the day of the game from my mate to even travel down to Northampton and when the final whistle was blown, and promotion was sealed, I had the best view of any Blade in the house. Well, maybe apart from Sharp and our manager in a million, Chris Wilder.

I’ve been a Blade all my life and, like many people, it runs in the family. My dad brought me to Bramall Lane for my first game when I was about eight years old and I sat on the Kop ever since, until I got a bit older and moved away to the Westfield Corner to get a better view. And with the football we’ve played under Wilder, it’s looked very good indeed! The memories of that day at Northampton still feel a bit surreal today.

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Richard Glossop in the dugout with Samir CarruthersRichard Glossop in the dugout with Samir Carruthers
Richard Glossop in the dugout with Samir Carruthers

I got a message at 8.30am on the morning of the game, asking if I wanted to go down. I remember it being a lovely day, the sun was out, and we couldn’t get a ticket but Sixfields is quite famous for the hill overlooking the ground, so I thought ‘yeah, why not?’ My mate drove down while I urgently scoured Facebook and Twitter looking for a ticket. It felt like the whole of Sheffield was doing likewise at one point but we both somehow managed to get one. We were absolutely buzzing.

The only snag was that they weren’t with the Blades, but were in the home end with the Northampton supporters. We sought the guy out straightaway to make sure we had them secured, and it turned out that we were in different stands; my mate was behind the dugouts, while I was opposite him, and it was quite a scary moment knowing we’d be on separate stands.

But still, we were there - and a quick glance at a number of Blades on the hill suggested that not everyone had been quite so lucky. As it turned out, a Northampton fan was in a hospitality box so had a couple of spare tickets, so it worked out well for everyone - he got a few quid for them, and we got to see one of the biggest days in United history in decades.

The memories of what followed would live with me for the rest of my life. During my time following the Blades, there have been a lot of downs and only one real up, the promotion to the Premier League in 2006. I’ve been to Wembley three or four times and seen us lose each time, but today was a different kind of nervousness; mainly about actually getting into the ground, past the security and police who would surely know I was a Blade.

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Leon Clarke of Sheffield Utd celebrates his goal with Kieron Freeman and a fan at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton. Simon Bellis/SportimageLeon Clarke of Sheffield Utd celebrates his goal with Kieron Freeman and a fan at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton. Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Leon Clarke of Sheffield Utd celebrates his goal with Kieron Freeman and a fan at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton. Simon Bellis/Sportimage

I did my bit by keeping my mouth shut, nodding at everyone instead of actually saying anything, but I’m sure they knew what would happen… I know Chris remembers that day at Leicester in 1990 when Filbert Street was about two-thirds full of Blades! A few of my friends had secured tickets for Sixfields in the Blades contingent, which was behind one goal and in a little area on one side stand; my side stand.

A few Blades were also in the home section with me and I remember when the ball came towards me in the first half and I started doing kick-ups with it - getting some abuse from my fellow Blades in the process who thought I was a Northampton fan trying to waste time! I was trying to keep my head down and there I am doing tricks, but it was all part of the fun of the day.

It wasn’t much fun, though, when Northampton went ahead through a very good finish from Marc Richards and it was just a case of clapping politely. I just remember thinking that it might not be our day but the attitude we showed all through that season, when we’d gone behind in games and seemed to come back so many times, made me think it could still happen. Then, when Leon Clarke went through on goal, the finish was inevitable.

He was on fire at that point and from there, there was only going to be one winner. Almost before I knew it, I was on the pitch after Clarke’s goal and when the field was cleared by the stewards, I ended up in the stand behind the net - the away end, where I had tried so desperately to be earlier. My mate, James Raistrick, also ended up in there with me - in hindsight, we should have agreed to meet on the penalty spot if United scored - and from there, we could see John Fleck up close as he bore down on goal to score what turned out to be the winner.

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Richard Glossop in the dugout with Leon ClarkeRichard Glossop in the dugout with Leon Clarke
Richard Glossop in the dugout with Leon Clarke

Now, in my mind, from Bryan Robson to Nigel Adkins, there had been disappointment after disappointment managing my club since it came down from the Premier League and finally, Wilder had got it right. The fact that we were all down at Northampton, in the stands or up on the hill, celebrating one of the best seasons in the club’s history was, for me, all down to him and so I wanted, in a silly kind of way, to just say thank you to him, for bringing back the good times.

It was down to him and his staff, getting the players to believe in him and his methods, that we were where we are and so I decided to sprint to the dugout and tell him. I must admit I didn’t think I’d actually get there. I started with a bit of pace but the pitch was bigger than I thought and I was tiring by the time I got to Chris and the Blades bench; by which point, the pitch was clear. And I had a decision to make.

More accurately, Wilder had a decision to make. He’s mentioned me in an interview since the day and said that he took pity on me because I could have been one of his pals, or even him if he wasn’t United manager, and didn’t want me to get arrested or thrown out on the biggest United-supporting day in many years. Perhaps fortunately, I’d chosen to wear a black Adidas tracksuit top on the day - the same kit supplier as United - so I kind of blended in with the coaching staff, and Wilder told me to stay in the dugout for the remaining few minutes of the game.

It was absolutely surreal. Clarke, one of the heroes of the day, was on the bench by now, as were Samir Carruthers and Mark Duffy. They were all really down-to-earth people, too, which made it all the more special. Wilder then came over so I thought I’d try my luck and ask him for a cheeky selfie! I can’t imagine that happening with many other managers but with him being a Blade and enjoying a day like this before, I think he could see the day from my perspective a little

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So from there, on the bench surrounded by players and staff, water bottles and bags of footballs, I watched history unfold. In hindsight, I should have put some shorts on and gone for a warm-up! I’ve thought since that I should have done things differently, maybe ask for a shirt as a souvenir or something, but I was so caught up in the moment and to be a small part of the day is something I’ll always remember. The spell in League One was forgettable for many reasons but at the moment it ended, I was right there in the thick of it.

I remember Chris, even on the verge of promotion, still shouting at his players and urging them to keep going right until the end but when that final whistle went, it was pandemonium. There were just bodies everywhere, jumping over anyone and everyone they saw, fan or player. I picked up Duffy as he’d ran on the pitch with me and we stayed behind for the players to come back out and celebrate with us… it was just an amazing day.

I’m just thankful that my phone battery lasted as long as it did. I’d been all over social media on the day of the game trying to find a ticket and if it had died before I could get the selfies on the bench, I doubt anyone would believe what happened on that day! I know my mates wouldn’t.

It’s a day that I’ll remember as long as I live and especially after originally planning to watch it from the top of the hill overlooking the ground, I had the best seat in the house. After Sharp and Wilder, of course. The good times didn’t stop that day, either. Adkins had led us to the lowest position in the league since before I was born, and the entire club was down.

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The job that Wilder and his staff have done in such a short space of time really is incredible; to turn it around from the position Adkins left us in, and then be bottom of the league after four games and then win the title with 100 points… phenomenal. Blades fans are a pretty easy-to-please bunch; all we ask for is honesty and hard work and we’re getting that in abundance, with great football too. As long as the players keep working for him and believing in him, we can go all the way.

I said it that day and I’ll say it again; thank you, Chris, for bringing the good times back. You really are one of our own.

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