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[Archived] Rovers 2 - 1 Sheffield United


Hasta

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MEMORY LANE

SHEFFIELD BLIMMIN UNITED - 16th March 1993.

I was only 15 but the feeling I will now describe is still one of my clearest football memories of that era. I'd grown up listening to my Dad talk of stories of past Rovers attempts at winning the FA Cup. I'd heard the story of 1960 many times. Quarter final , 3-0 down to Burnley on t'Tuf with 20 mins left only to draw 3-3 and win the replay . Semi final , 2-1 victory over Sheff Wednesday which my dad recalls as being Harry Leylands finest hour (I'll leave that for older members to debate!). The cup final ticket fiasco followed by the 10 men, beset by problems on and off the pitch, rolling over to Wolves in the game itself.

During the 80's I had only dreamed that such a cup run to the final would be possible for Rovers. The suddenly it was happening. Jack had arrived, promotion gained and we were proving ourselves a strong Premiership outfit. Sure we'd been dumped out of the League Cup a few days before, but this was the one that mattered. This was also the time when the Rovers bug had really caught hold of me, and my parents had given me permission to accompany my mates on the official away travel coaches to away games. And here I was, at Brammall Lane to witness Rovers in the FA Cup quarter final against a relegation threatened Sheffield United. And that is when my dislike of them set in.

Time may have distorted facts, but we played them off the pitch. Steve Livingstone returned from the wilderness to score and 'Iron' Mike Newell also notched. Unfortunately Alan Cork managed to set Mitch Ward up twice and the game went to penalties. We all know the rest. Jason Wilcox took his (only?) abysmal penalty for Rovers and rolled it straight into the keeper, a penalty that Gareth Southgate would disasterously recreate at Euro 96.

I was gutted. The FA Cup dream destroyed. It was the first real gut-wrenching disappointment I had felt. I sat on the coach to return home close to tears with the taunting mob of red and white on the other side of the windows. I felt like part of me had been ripped away, that I wouldn't feel normal again. I didnt say a word as we journeyed home. For days, every morning I woke up I got that sick feeling you get when you remember what had happened just a few nights before. People who were at Selhurst say that the Palace Play Off experience was 20 times worse. In that case I pity your poor tortured souls.

From that day I disliked everything Sheff Utd. I cant stand Warnock. I always have a chuckle to myself when they lose and always hope they go down. In Golden Eye, I wanted Bond to nail Sean Bean not because he was a traitor to his country who was now running a Russian crime syndicate, but because he has a 100% Blades tattoo. Lady Chatterly should have shoved ...........

Anyway, who are The Blades?.

(very) BRIEF SHEFF UTD HISTORY

• Officially formed 29th May 1889. Played their first ever league game in August of that year.

• In 1890 made their first appearance in the FA Cup beating Burnley 2-1. Lost in the next round to Bolton 13-0. (Burnley obviously good in them days then!)

• Promoted to the top flight in 1893 by beating Accrington in a play off. Stayed uninteruped in that division until 1934

• All their major success came around about this era, winning the league title once (1898) and the FA Cup 4 times (1899, 1902, 1915, 1925)

• After this time United yoyo'd between the top two divisions, being promoted and relegated 7 times from 1949 to 1976

• Probably Sheff Utds worst ever season was in 1978/79 which was their first ever season in the then third division. Top of the table at Christmas, they won only 3 of their remaining games to be relegated to the basement league. Even more pleasing to learn was that on the last day of the season they missed a 90th minute penalty kick which would have saved them and relegated their opponents Walsall instead.

• Having been promoted in 1990 back to the top flight, they were founding members of the Premier League in 1992.

• They also scored the first ever premier League goal courtesy of a Brian Deane header.

• They returned to the Premiership last season after a 12 year absence.

Honours

Football League Division One

Champions: 1897-98

Football League Division Two

Champions: 1952-53

Football League Division Four

Champions: 1981-82

F.A. Cup

Winners : 1899, 1902, 1915, 1925

THE QUESTIONAIRE

Very kind thanks go to Foxy and Linz over at www.sheff-utd.co.uk for their help in answering the questions below.

THIS SEASON

1) How do you assess your season so far in general.

Linz: So far we're exceeding expectations! A lot of the established Premiership clubs may find that statement laughable but going into the season, survival was our main aim and any position above 17th is a bonus. We've got nowhere near the funds available to some other clubs to attempt to compete on a level playing field when it comes to attracting new players but although Neil Warnock has his detractors, he has a good eye for a bargain. Some of the players he brought in over the summer, our leading goal scorer Rob Hulse for example, may prove the difference between staying up and relegation.

2) What has been the highlight and lowlight of the season so far?

Linz: As Sheffield United fans, we were determined to enjoy this season no matter what because it has been a long time coming. Nothing can compare to the atmosphere and the buzz around the club leading up to and including the first match of the season at the Lane against Liverpool. Notable mentions must also include our first away win at Newcastle United in November and nicking a highly unexpected three points off Arsenal in the last game of 2006.

It is particularly disappointing to us to see the way some sections of the media have been reacting to the Blades this season. It seems we are far from the media darlings the southern clubs seem to be! As far as results go, we knew it was going to be a long season and sometimes the luck just refuses to go your way. There have been a number of matches where the points could have gone either way and we've ended up with a draw or even a defeat but you get by with a grim sense of humour! (Southern based media against unfahsionable nortern club - sounds familiar!)

3) A lot of your players are still probably unknown to most outsiders. Who has been your star player so far?

Linz: I think with teams such as ours which probably lacks the individual flair a number of clubs can call on, the team as a whole is responsible for getting results and playing for each other.

The epitome of that team-spirit is our captain, Chris Morgan. Many Blades fans were calling for his sale over the close season believing that he couldn't make the step-up to the Premiership but he's surprised many at Bramall Lane with the way he's coped. He's no-nonsense, extremely proud and fights for the team (a little too literally sometimes) but his physical presence puts the wind up a number of our more lightweight opponents and can nullify their effect on the game. He returns from his three match suspension for our game with Blackburn after the FA found him guilty of violent conduct for "punching" Robin Van Persie.

THE ROVERS

4) Whats your opinion on the Rovers this season. Which of our players do you rate and hate?

Foxy: Looking at the squad at the start of the season, I expected Blackburn to be a mid-table side, who wouldn’t really be troubled by the thought of relegation. However, the way things were looking before Christmas, I’d have said Blackburn were one of our relegation rivals this year and looking the least likely (other than Watford and Charlton) to pull themselves out of it. This hasn’t been the case though and after a few decent results of late, Rovers have begun to show that they have the quality to break clear of the bottom clubs. Whether this will continue remains to be seen, I’m currently undecided, which I guess will be helped either way after seeing Saturday’s performance.

Blackburn players I rate are Brad Friedel and Morton Gamst Pedersen. Friedel has always seemed to be a good performer and I can remember him pulling off match winning saves countless times. The most recent in my memory are the two penalties he saved in the 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane back in September. Pedersen (or Gamst?) has always impressed me with his creativity and he chips in with a fair number of goals, which usually happen to be outstanding finishes.

Most Rovers fans would probably expect me to pick Robbie Savage out as a hate figure, but I’ll be only slightly less predictable and go for Francis Jeffers. Whilst I don’t like Savage’s apparent “playboy” attitude and bigheadedness, I rate him as a player and think he gets a lot of unwarranted criticism on this side. He’s one of those players who you would love to play for your own club, but if he’s opposition, you join in with the popular hatred. Mr Jeffers on the other hand, has consistently, in the past, summed up a number of my pet hates within football. It’s just his whole attitude and evident desperation to con officials and fellow professionals that forces me to dislike him.

ROVERS - UNITED CONNECTION

5) Onto our ex players. I didn't have a problem with Keith Gillespie but a lot of Rovers fans did. Whats your opinion? Wing Wizard or Limited Liability?

Linz: Oooo... an interesting question after the shenanigans last Saturday at the Madejski and the furore surrounding that.

As a player last season, Gillespie found himself limited to the bench for the majority due to Warnock favouring Paul Ifill on the wing. When he did get a game, his class was evident but he could not perform consistently enough to warrant a first team place.

This season however, Gillespie has made the position his own with Paul Ifill eventually being sold to Crystal Palace. He is the best crosser of the ball we have at the Lane and has made an important contribution to where we currently are in the league - even popping up with a couple of goals. We even thought his temperament had mellowed with age but smacking Stephen Hunt seems to suggest not.

Speculation is now surrounding Gillespie's future at the Lane following the transfer request he handed in on Saturday night subsequent to his fifteen seconds on the pitch. Gillespie's agent says that the player is upset that a new deal hasn't been offered to him following his good run of form but the club are saying that Gillespie isn't going anywhere and that they have tabled a new contract offer.

So we shall see... but personally we don't want Gillespie to go anywhere. We're definitely fans of t'old Keef.

6) Whats your opinion of the signing of Jon Stead for £750,000?

Linz: It's a little early to tell with Stead to be honest with you. He seemed extremely bright and energetic in his debut against Portsmouth but whether he can link up with Rob Hulse effectively is yet to be seen. Obviously, his early scoring record with Huddersfield and Blackburn speaks for itself but he seemed to lose his scoring way with Sunderland and Blades are just hoping he can recapture his early career form.

He's still young, he was hardly expensive and if he gets the right service, we've not seen anything to suggest that he won't be a valuable addition to the team

7) You've already read my account of my most memorable previous Rovers V Sheff utd game. Have you and memories of previous encounters.

Foxy: My most memorable encounter between the two clubs is the one you also picked for highly contrasting reasons! The Blades had set the mood by beating Man U 2-1 in the previous round, but as eternal pessimists, nobody expected the visit of Rovers to be an easy game in the slightest. Rovers were riding high; I wouldn’t say we were played off the pitch, but we were certainly second best. The good old trademark Sheffield United, never say die, miracle working-attitude kicked in however and Mitch Ward (one of my favourite Blades players at the time) saved the day with a couple of goals to take the game to extra time.

I have no idea of the atmosphere amongst the Rovers fans on the Bramall Lane end, but such an event is unlike any other experience known to football fans. Bramall Lane on a Tuesday night, under the glow of the floodlights, watching the Blades perform a trademark snatching of success from the jaws of defeat (as opposed to the reverse which if you ask any long suffering Blades fan is by far the norm!) is a VERY special place to be. Nights like that one are exactly why many people follow the Blades so devoutly, they are few and far between overall, but they crop up now and again and make all the suffering worth it.

I understand how many young Rovers fans will have felt during that trip home, being a Blade it’s now second nature, without experiencing such journeys however, the flip side wouldn’t feel anywhere near as special.

GENERAL FOOTBALL

8) Attendances are down at Ewood (and a lot of other clubs may I add). Some people are blaming quality of football but most blaming ticket prices. Do you feel that in general you get value for money at Bramall Lane on a matchday?

Linz: It seems that Blackburn are paving the way in doing something about ticket prices from next season and for that they must be applauded.

As a concessionary season ticket holder (the joys of being an NUS wielding student) the value for money I receive is fantastic. I'm seeing Premiership football for just over a tenner per match. It's a shame I can't say the same for away matches though! We have trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge after coming to Ewood Park and expect to have to spend in the region of £80 on tickets for those two matches.

9) You'll like this one. What effect would the relegation of Leeds United have on Yorkshire football?

Linz: It means that the local Leeds-based BBC News programme might actually have to acknowledge we exist! The Leeds situation has also seen an uneasy truce form between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fans who are united in their common abhorrence of Leeds United and their desire to see them relegated.

On a more serious note, I think the situation at Elland Road has given a number of clubs a good example of how not to conduct themselves and Leeds can't really blame anyone but themselves for the situation they are currently in. Throwing money at a club and operating beyond your means may buy you instant success but the emphasis should be on sustainability and building for the future. Under our chairman Kevin McCabe, hopefully we've gone the right way about this.

THE MATCH

10) And finally, back to our game then. How do you think the match will go from your point of view and a score pred

Linz: At the time of writing, we're yet to play Fulham at home so maybe this question would be better answered after that game, especially with the transfer window still open and we have a little bit of money to spend.

As stated above, Chris Morgan will be back from suspension and our new midfielder, Ahmed Fathi may make an appearance depending on the situation with injuries in the Blades squad. Claude Davis has been struggling this week with a knee injury and Matthew Kilgallon, Luton Shelton and Mikele Leigertwood are still a couple of weeks away from match fitness so would be expected not to travel to Ewood Park.

Obviously our form away from home is questionable but as Blades fans, we hope for the best and thoroughly expect the worse! A point would be brilliant, three would be unbelievable and a loss would be expected. All I can hope for is that the traveling Blades are in good voice and we give you a game at the very least.

So there you go, a big thanks again to Foxy and Linz for the obvious time they've put in to reply to my questions.

ONTO SATURDAYS GAME

Current Form

Well unlike in memory lane above, no FA Cup glory at stake here but Premiership points. As we know, prior to the Chelsea game Rovers go into Saturdays game in the best form of the season so far. 8 wins in our last 11 fixtures in all competitions is certainly impressive and all this achieved with an injury list whose severity keeps changing weekly. In the Premier League there have certainly been signs of the bubble bursting though. We've been outclassed by a 10 man Arsenal and out-fought by bottom of the league Watford. Sandwiched inbetween though was another away day special at the City of Manchester stadium where Tugay and David Bentley pulled the strings in a 3-0 romp.

Sheff Utd on the other hand are not in their best form so far. However, having only won one and drawn one of their last seven competitive fixtures, they recorded their first victory of the year at home to Fulham on Tuesday. Their last away game at Reading was a particularly fractious affair with the Blades going down to 10 men and eventually going down 3 goals to 1. Keith 'Dizzy' Gillespie was the man sent off in that game for swinging an arm at Stephen Hunt. Then, just in case the club were thinking of appealing, he went back over to Hunt and threw the kind of punch that must have had Shearer quaking in his boots in Dublin just before he knocked Keith out. (see number 6 on link)

New arrivals

Two notable transfers to talk about prior to this game. First a man whose transfer has divided Rovers fans right down the middle. No-one can deny Dunny had exceptional talent as a football player. No one can deny the impact he had in helping us return to the top flight several seasons ago. Unfortunately no-one can deny that, at 27 years of age, his career has nowhere near lived up to the promise it showed in them youthful years. Fall outs with the manager, lack of fitness, questions about his lifestyle and crippling injuries have meant that instead of being one of the most sought after English midfielders in the game, Dunny is now considered a risk at just £1m. I would speculate that Dunny is now entering last chance saloon if he wants to achieve anything notable in the English game. He's got the move back that he wanted, he's working with a manger who knows him, fans who adore him. So what's it gonna be Dunny? Magic Man or Michelin Man?

IPB Image

Lining up for Sheff Utd is another man who may well have earned his place in Rovers history for his performances over just a 4 months time frame. Jon Stead signed in February 2004 with Rovers lying just 3 points above the relegation zone having won just 1 in 9 games. He scored the winner at Boro on his debut, and went on to score 6 that season including winners aginast Fulham, Everton and Man U. The common belief that he kept us up is not true, as we avioided relegation by 11 points (you would have stopped up that season with just 34!), but without his performances and goals it would certainly have been a lot more twitchy. It never worked out after that but, via Sunderland and Derby, he's found his way back into the Premier League at Bramall Lane, scoring his first goal on Tuesday night. A recent post on here stated that no ex-Rovers players ever get a decent reception back at Ewood but, should he play, I'm sure Steady will get one.

IPB Image

My Prediction

I really expect this to be a tough game. Although I stated earlier that United weren't in great form, I watched the highlights of their game against Fulham on football first and they seemed by far the better side. We know from reputation that they will battle and battle and, unlike teams such as Boro and Fulham, not roll over if they go a goal down and things aren't going their way. Being a betting man, I'm also a firm believer in stats, and the fact that we have gone 14 first team games without a draw concerns me. We're going to draw one somewhere (hopefully at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday - fingers crossed for me editing this part of the preview!).

However I'm still going to go for us winning 2-1. I've never been the biggest Sav fan in the world although he has grown on me this season. Now we'll see whether all his huff and puff really drives the team on or not. Hopefully Tugs will be back in midfield and at his majestical best. Dunny possibly on the bench adds more interest to the game, as do home debuts for Warnock and Samba. So there you go. Rovers 2 (McCarthy , Pedersen) Sheff Utd 1 (Stead). Roll on Saturday.

And to take you back to the beginning of the preview, despite the tough draw maybe, just maybe, this year I can dream of that Wembley cup final again. Come on you blues. :brfc:

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Really good preview- enjoyed reading it.

I have a horrible feeling about this one. Could easily be a draw- Rovers need the Admiral back to his best to lock them out. I guess 1-0 is the likeliest result if we keep it tight at the back but I expect Sheff U will surprise a few people by giving it a real go.

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...Friedel has always seemed to be a good performer and I can remember him pulling off match winning saves countless times. The most recent in my memory are the two penalties he saved in the 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane back in September.

Match winning saves in a 2-2 draw? I could have sworn that was 0-0. Excellent Preview though mate - I reckon we'll win this one 2-0.

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Another excellent preview, well done Hasta. These are now becoming the norm, glad I'm not doing one :D

This board trumps most other boards on the internet for quality, in both posts and users, so it's not surprising we have people determined to put the effort into these things. There's some real rubbish boards out there, and plenty of them are football ones.

Loved this bit:

Linz: It means that the local Leeds-based BBC News programme might actually have to acknowledge we exist! The Leeds situation has also seen an uneasy truce form between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fans who are united in their common abhorrence of Leeds United and their desire to see them relegated.

I now see the Michelin mascot in a whole new light. I never considered those as beings rolls of fat.:o

I'll withhold my prediction until after the Chelsea game.

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I personally believe our season will depend ALOT on how we fare against the 4 "relegation-threatened" teams that cost us alot in the first half of the season. We expected something like 9 points from the 4 games last time around but ended up with 1.

Sheff Utd, West Ham, Charlton and Watford. We got them all at home now.

Dunny should get a few minutes too.

I expect nothing short than a win, but footballs a funny old game.

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Dunny should get a few minutes too.

my 'reidy source' told me, if he comes through a practice game unscathed - he will START!

he's supposed to be ''fitter than he's ever been.''

i can see us dropping pts in this one.

ROVERS 1-1 SHEFF UTD

dunn hulse

(pen)

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Match winning saves in a 2-2 draw? I could have sworn that was 0-0. Excellent Preview though mate - I reckon we'll win this one 2-0.

Apologies for that :), I thought i'd corrected this to actually make sense and show the correct score in the version we sent to Hasta :)

One of the drawbacks in doing such tasks with the flu I guess :D

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I should have spotted that aswell but was too busy working out how to make text bigger and changing text colour!

Welcome aboard Foxy! Good win last night. You've opened up a handy gap between yourselves and the bottom 4!

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I should have spotted that aswell but was too busy working out how to make text bigger and changing text colour!

Welcome aboard Foxy! Good win last night. You've opened up a handy gap between yourselves and the bottom 4!

Excellent preview,Hasta.Keep them coming.

I've stopped making predictions, I'm a jinx when i do.

I don't mind Jonathan Stead scoring if we win 6-1 (that's not a prediction),but ,be nice to see him back, though.

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Welcome aboard Foxy! Good win last night. You've opened up a handy gap between yourselves and the bottom 4!

Cheers! :)

Yeah good strong performance too, just hoping we can carry it on for the run in! it's heaped the pressure on the Hammers and Wigan :D

Glad Stead has got off the mark so quick, should give him some confidence, he's had a couple of great games and is looking a like he could be a steal for the price!

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I really hope we can win this one,the game at Sheffield was unbelievable,3 penalty miss's in one game.If it's anything as exciting as that game, then we're in for a thriller.

Let's hope our spot kickers are on form now.

prediction...just 3 points and a penalty winner.

Warnock v Warnock.

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In light of our delpleated resources, and what Pleasure said about Dunn, this is the team I would go for:

---------McCarthy--Derbyshire

Gamst---Tugay---Dunn----Bentley

Warnock---Nelsen--Zurab--Emerton

------------------Freidel

Thankfully I don't think Shef Utd have the quality in the middle to expose our lack of a water carrier, so we should win this one. I bet Stead is looking forward to this though.

Incidentally this side here is quite similar to the way Man Utd play, no real tackling midfielder and a lot of attacking talent. Not sure we can quite pull it off though with Pedersen and Bentley as opposed to Ronaldo and Giggs, but we shall see.

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