Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has insisted that becoming the first South Yorkshire club to finish a season on 100 points is a fitting tribute to his “special” team.
The League One champions signed-off their campaign in style by beating Chesterfield 3-2 in front of a 31,003 crowd at Bramall Lane to reach the historic landmark.
Describing United as worthy champions, Wilder, a lifelong United supporter and former player, said: “Today is a special, special day in the history of this football club. To win the championship is fantastic. But to win it in this manner, to get to 100 points, to have rescued results and crushed teams, it’s really special.
“For me, to walk into this ground everyday, to walk out there when ‘Annie’s Song’ gets played before every game, it gives me a right tingle. And, more than anything, I’m delighted that we’ve got our club back.”
United, who were presented with their winners medals after the match, appeared on course for a comfortable afternoon when Kieron Freeman fired them into a first-half lead. Billy Sharp scored his 30th goal since August to restore their lead after Kristian Dennis has equalised from the spot. But Paul McGinn again dragged Chesterfield back on level terms before Daniel Lafferty scored a late winner following Dan Gardner’s red card.
“We’re all together,” Wilder said. “We’ve shown togetherness on the pitch and off the pitch. And the supporters have bought into that. When everyone is together, this is a powerful football club. Even today, it epitomised what we’re about. Chesterfield deserved something. But we dug it out.”
Wilder admitted leading United to promotion was the greatest moment of his footballing career - “Put it at the top and then times it by about 100” - also paid tribute to his captain Sharp and co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud after the final whistle.
“There were a few people who looked at the captaincy, and where it had gone, at the start of the season,” he acknowledged. “But I looked at him and thought ‘he wants to drive this football club forward, he’s got unfinished business.’ The biggest compliment I can pay him is that I’d go out for a beer with Billy because he’s such a good kid.”
“I’m delighted for Kevin and the Prince,” Wilder added. “Especially for Kevin because he’s had a tough old go at it for a number of years. He’s taken stick in certain quarters and I’d like to think days like this justify his involvement. I look around and it’s an unbelievable arena. That’s only because of the work at boardroom level. Now we have to get ready for the Championship.”