Dane Whitehouse reveals why Sheffield United beat Wednesday BEFORE they even stepped onto the pitch, 29 years ago today

He is the lad who grew up on the Woodthorpe estate in Sheffield dreaming of a career with his beloved Sheffield United.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 5:49 pm

And 29 years ago today, Dane Whitehouse forged his name into the Blades history books with the opening goal in a 2-0 win over the old enemy Wednesday at Bramall Lane.

Even better was to come later in the season, when United again triumphed 3-1 at Hillsborough to seal another double over their city rivals. Whitehouse was again on the scoresheet that day and to add to the dream-like euphoria, his goals in either game were in front of his fellow Blades - in front of the Kop at the Lane, and at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough.

It was 1991/92, the last season of the old Division One before it became the Premier League, and United had won just two of their opening 15 games before the first top-flight meeting with Wednesday since the 1960s.

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In contrast Wednesday, on the back of promotion and lifting the League Cup the season before, were flying high in fourth.

"Even speaking as a United fan, they had a quality side," Whitehouse told The Star. "We had some good players, but their squad was packed with quality.

"For a couple of weeks before the game it was all anyone wanted to speak about, and we all read it in the papers - that Wednesday were going to put five past us, that they were going to do this and that to us.

"It's probably a good job we didn't have social media back then, because we'd have heard even more.

"But we were so confident going into that game. In fact, for me, we won it before we even stepped out on to the pitch.

"We made the decision in the dressing room that we would eyeball them in the tunnel. Stare into their eyes, every one of their players, and see if they were up for it.

"Not one of them looked back at us. For me, they probably thought that their skill and the players they had would get them through the game.

"Our team spirit back then was amazing, just like it is under Chris Wilder now, and we were all in it together. We were that pumped for the game, because we'd heard what they were going to do to us, and we wanted to see if they wanted it as much as we did.

Dane Whitehouse, Carl Bradshaw & Mitch Ward back on the pitch at Bramall Lane - © BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

"We said afterwards that we knew they didn't. On paper, with the team they had and the team we had, they should have beaten us all day long. But they didn't."

In front of a frenzied Bramall Lane crowd, there was an early flashpoint as Carl Bradshaw squared up to John Sheridan before Sheridan and Paul Warhurst collided as they both went for a dropping ball.

John Gannon spotted the run of Ian 'Jock' Bryson, sending him through one-on-one with England 'keeper Chris Woods. Woods saved his shot but could only parry it as far as Whitehouse, who made no mistake into the empty net to put the Blades - his Blades - ahead.

"That summed up how we played under Dave Bassett," Whitehouse reflected. "Basically, he wanted us to get the ball forward as quickly as possible and play in the opposition's half.

Dane Whitehouse battles with John Sheridan in 1991

"So I just instinctively set off forward when I saw Jock running through with the ball. Brads was on the right of Jock as well and if Woods had parried it to the right, he'd have had an open net as well.

"But it just so happened that it fell to me. And what an unbelievable feeling that was.

"It sounds strange to say, but you can play in front of 500 people or 35,000 people and you don't hear the crowd, because you're so caught up in the game.

"When the ball fell to me, I didn't see the Kop and I didn't hear the fans. All I wanted to do was not miss! Concentrate on putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Then the euphoria came. That's when I thought: 'I've just scored in a Sheffield derby for United and now I'm going to jump over these railings and sprint up the Kop steps and have 10,000 fans going mad'.

"The feeling before the game was like I was jumping in a ring with someone and wanted to rip their head off. That was the adrenaline running through my body. It's such a strange feeling to explain, but anyone who's been there will understand it."

Dane Whitehouse of Sheffield United FC

Whitehouse could have ended the game with a hat-trick, seeing Woods tip over a header and Phil King block a fiercely-driven shot on the line. But United did eventually get a second when Brian Deane, on his return from glandular fever, squeezed a shot through the legs of Woods to seal a memorable derby day victory - not least for the scorer of the first goal.

"I was a born and bred Blades fan, brought up on an estate called Woodthorpe," Woodhouse, whose first United game was a 4-0 win over Gillingham in 1979, remembered.

"It was a split estate in terms of United and Wednesday fans, but they were as good as gold with me after both the games against Wednesday.

"All they wanted to see was a lad from Woodthorpe do well, whether it was with United or Wednesday or whatever.

"I'm still in close contact with them all, and I remember people waiting outside my house when I got home after both games.

"They said to me: 'Dane, we logve you to bits. We've grown up together. But of all the people, it just had to be thee didn't it?'

"'It just had to be thee'."

** Next week, in The Star, Whitehouse discusses the tackle that ended his career.

Whitehouse played over 250 games for his boyhood club
Whitehouse also played in the Premier League for the Blades: Clive Brunskill /Allsport