Blades Glory, Owls Down - The day at Leicester City that Sheffield United will never forget, and Simon Tracey silenced a doubt
When Simon Tracey looks back on his long professional football career, with over 300 Football League appearances, one game in particular stands out in his memory.
May 5, 1990. Forget Star Wars Day and all that nonsense of May the fourth – it is the day later that was the true blockbuster for the Blades, as they took over Leicester’s Filbert Street on and off the pitch on their way to a 5-2 victory that sealed their return to the top flight of English football.
United's joy was compounded after the game with news that city rivals Wednesday had been relegated on the same day, sparking the iconic Green 'Un headline: Blades Glory, Owls Down.
"Leicester will probably always be one of the highlights of my career," Tracey, a bargain £7,500 signing by Dave “Harry” Bassett from Wimbledon two years earlier, admitted.
"Because of the end result which gave us promotion, of course, but the support what we got that day was unbelievable.
"Three sides of the ground seemed to be United fans and those luminous shirts we wore at the time stood out a mile!
"I think in the end we had to get rid of them because they were the same colour as what the police and stewards wore. But it's still one of the best selling shirts in the club's history, and the colour that day was fantastic.
"The whole day was, to be honest. From the moment we set out onto the pitch to everything that followed afterwards."
Conservative estimates from the day suggest that around two-thirds of the 21,134 crowd at Filbert Street that day were Blades fans, who invaded the pitch after each of United’s five goals on an afternoon that was captured perfectly for posterity by the BBC documentary ‘United’.
Tony Agana and Brian Deane, surely the best strike partnership in United’s long and illustrious history, netted three times between them that day, with Paul Wood and Wilf Rostron also getting in on the act on a day of celebration for the red and white half of the Steel City.
United stayed in the top flight until their dramatic, last-day relegation at Chelsea in 1994, and Tracey repaid his bargain transfer fee many times over in his 15 years of service to the Blades before retiring in 2003.
"When you go from one club to another, there's always something there, a doubt nagging away at you," Tracey added.
"You think: 'I'll show you, I'll prove that'. It's about character and hunger, to better yourself. That's what I think Harry did so well.
"Look at lads like Bob Booker, who was in his thirties when he came in and probably thought his career was virtually over. But he had the hunger to do better for himself and had probably the best time and success of his career at Sheffield United
"We snapped Brian Deane up and signed Tony Agana, who both had something to prove. They played fantastically well and scored so many goals in that promotion season."