Sheffield United promotion hero remembers beers on the bus that turned season around - for the wrong reason
Simon Moore had been a Sheffield United player for about three days when the Blades sank to the bottom of the League One table and Chris Wilder made his now-legendary decision to crack open the beers on the team bus as it snaked back north.
Wilder could see his players were giving everything, but nothing was going for them. So he spent skipper Billy Sharp into a Bermondsey off-licence, and United never looked back – romping to the League One title with 100 points.
Moore, unsurprisingly, remembers it fondly. Because he was travelling in the opposite direction at the time.
“I had only signed on the Thursday before the game and the gaffer gave me Sunday and Monday off to get my stuff sorted to move up,” Moore remembered. “So I wasn’t even on the bus!
“I’d shot off home with my mum and dad after the game. I was gutted I missed out. But I certainly made up for it in the years afterwards.”
Winning the League One title, becoming a centurion for the first time in United’s long history, is just one highlight of Moore’s five-year spell at Bramall Lane, which will come to an end later this month when his contract expires.
Now 31 years of age, Moore’s tally of 70 games in five seasons rather belies the importance of his role behind the scenes in United’s recent success. He was named in the PFA team of the season when United won League One, competed with Jamal Blackman for the gloves in the Championship and then pushed Dean Henderson as the Blades reached the Premier League.
“I grew up watching Brading Town, my dad used to be the manager, and a lot of the culture there was the same at United,” Moore added.
“Having a few beers on the bus, singing along to Oasis. They were special moments. People see footballers as robots but it was a big part of our success.
“My brother [fellow goalkeeper Stuart] has just been promoted with Blackpool and I told him that moments like that don’t come around very often. People might play for 20 years and not get promoted, so I told him to enjoy every moment.
“The gaffer [Wilder] told us that if we got promoted, it wouldn’t be like it would be at other clubs. It’d be different. And it was. The amount of fans that came out to celebrate was remarkable.
“The gaffer told me we’d be sick of drinking by the time we finished celebrating. I thought: ‘Nah, surely not’. When I came home from Las Vegas, he was absolutely right. I’d had enough!
“We won promotion from League One with about a month left of the season and we were out two or three times a week. But we were still winning every week!
“We battered Bradford 3-0 and I was thinking: ‘What’s going on?’ As we went up the leagues, things didn’t really change a lot and that was why we kept that success through the leagues.”