Friday, 11 April 2014

Good old Wembley-by-the-Sea

"You got to the seaside for a day out, you go to Wembley to win." 

Nigel Clough's words in a recent interview and well shared amongst Blades fans in recent weeks.

If Nigel has that embedded in the players’ minds and they continue to play to their system and dictated by their roles then we certainly have a chance. But it's rare the bookies lose money and 4-1 in a two horse race reflects the reality of the challenge facing United. So forgive me if I focus on backing the team and enjoying the day. I will be honest with you; a goal would be good, never mind a win. 

For me, any fan can't be blamed for treating the trip to Wembley as a day out. We are the self-preservation society. Looking for a protective shield from yet more hurt on the big day. This cup run has fused club and fan-base together in a way not seen for several years, but the scars still exist and they are still tender to the touch.

In my near 40 years we have had two visits to the old Wembley, two visits to new Wembley, two visits to Old Trafford and one to Cardiff. The net result was one goal scored, four play-off final defeats and three FA Cup semi-final defeats.

For the Play Off final, where more often than not we were the favourites, the team we saw all season, the team we saw in the play-off semi finals just didn't turn up on the big day.

The Cup semi-finals have been much tighter affairs, separated by the odd goal, but the heartbreak of losing to the other lot in 1993, the sight of Shearer peeling away, fist held high above his head, in celebration back in 1998 and Graham Poll's absent minded on pitch shambling alongside Seaman's wonder save in 2003 still rankle, still hurt.

Over the last few weeks Nigel Clough has reinstated belief in players who wandered the pitch vacantly and without purpose in the Autumn. He has instilled pride in the fans, their undimmed passion allied with a belief that things can and will get better. For a change, I don't fear us not turning up. I don't fear us freezing and not competing. I don't think Clough will let it happen.

We are only the ninth third division side to reach the cup semi finals in 94 years. In the six rounds to date we have beaten five teams who sat above us in the league, four from divisions above. This has been a journey of giant killing from round three onwards. 

It has been a catalyst for the club and fan-base. Alongside boardroom change and managerial change the on-pitch overhaul has built momentum through the cup run. The club has re-discovered its identity and it is one that the fans can associate with. For many, the greatest times watching United come from cup matches at Bramall Lane.  

We can dare to dream, we can enjoy the day, the camaraderie, a shared experience with 33,000 like minded men, women and children and we sing and shout until we are hoarse. 

We don't turn our backs if things don't go to plan. We don't berate players for mistakes or look for scapegoats. It isn't a day for that. It is a day to be thankful that we have our club back. We have a team with the right attitude and aptitude. We have an honest and astute management team and a board that matches the ambition of the fans.

We have respect for Hull. They are a Premier League team and should remain so next season. They are up there with good reason and although the absence of Jelavic and Long is welcomed, that should not detract from the quality elsewhere. We are not the favourites, there is no expectation that has hung over us like a dark, sapping cloud before.

No one could have predicted this in September. Nobody would have predicted this on the first weekend of January as the team travelled to Villa Park. Be thankful, enjoy it and urge the team on. They aren't going for the day out. They have a job to do. To win.

Whatever happens on Sunday we should walk back to our planes, trains and automobiles with pride. We feel like a club United at last. And as we have been frequently reminded this season, it is the cup and in the Cup you just never know. 


  1. Excellent. Couldn't agree more. Desperate we win but can't see the likely loss as failure. UTB

  2. Great article. I'm with you all the Wemberlee!

  3. Enjoy The Moment. I would love A Blades V Wigan Final. Wigan Casino V AbbeyDale,Samantha's, London Road Tiffany's. The In Crowd, Music .Northern Soul Music,being played in Wembley b4 Kick Off. The Mighty Stompers from S2. Marching onwards & Upwards. Blade Nation. There was always a big Blade Army, on The Wigan Casino Dance Floor.Oh Happy Days. Dare I say 2-1. Blades. Keep The Faith :-) .