DERBY DAY: Leigh Bromby remembers his days at Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, and looks forward to next year’s Steel City derbies

Leigh Bromby played over 100 times for Wednesday and United
Leigh Bromby played over 100 times for Wednesday and United
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Next season will see the first Steel City head-to-head clash in half a decade. One man in particular knows the fixture more than most; Leigh Bromby, who played more than 100 times for both Wednesday and United. He spoke to Steven Jones.

I’ve played in a lot of derbies before. I’ve played in the East Anglia derby and a few Yorkshire derbies, but I think that one is special because it’s inner city so you get divided families, says Bromby.

You don’t realise until you’re involved in both clubs what it means to both sets of supporters, especially with them being in the same city.

It’s definitely a special one and they’re two huge clubs who are obviously doing really well at the minute.

Hopefully they’ll both be pushing for the play-offs next season.

As a player, you always knew about what it means to the supporters. It was always built up, especially in the media.

It’s almost like, not life or death, but it is built up like that within the dressing room and the players do really appreciate the significance.

There were a lot of home-grown players - lads who had come through the system - at both clubs, who understood the meaning of the game to the fans.

It’s one of th games you really look forward to as a player. I loved playing in them, but the one that stood out the most is one that I watched as a young lad. Sheffield Wednesday had just been relegated from the Premiership. It was a cup game at Hillsborough.

I just remember the atmosphere being absolutely electric, watching the game and I think some fans came on the pitch - it was like ‘Wow’. I’d not experienced that before.

Bromby against Wednesday's Marcus Tudgay

Bromby against Wednesday's Marcus Tudgay

It was the first season Sheffield Wednesday had been relegated so it was built up to be a big game because I don’t think they’d played for a while.

It was an evening game and it was just electric. From then I sort of knew what it meant to the fans.

I remember leaving Wednesday; the club had gone through some bad years, Chris Turner came in and they decided at the time to let me, Derek [Geary] and Alan Quinn go. They decided they wanted to go a different route.

We’d been there a lot of years, I don’t think anyone particularly wanted to leave. The decision was taken out of our hands. I think a lot of people at the time just didn’t realise the situation. It was actually the club’s decision to not renew our contracts.

From playing for both clubs, both sets of fans give their team fantastic support. You’ve seen that this season, they both turn out in their numbers every away game and pack out stadiums. They’re massive, massive clubs and I was lucky enough to play for both.

Leigh Bromby

If Sheffield Wednesday would have come to me and said ‘here’s a new contract’, I’d say I would have signed. But that wasn’t the option at the time.

I know everyone was quite happy at the club. When you come through the system at a club and you come through the youth team, you’ve got good feelings for the club and you’ve got a lot of loyalty there because they gave you your chance.

But the club decided they weren’t going to renew our contracts and then you’re in a position where you need to get a club. Neil Warnock phoned me up and he wanted to sign me for Sheffield United.

It was a pretty easy decision because you’re playing in a better league. Sheffield Wednesday had been relegated under Chris Turner.

Me and Alan moved together at the same time which helped, because I wasn’t sure what the reaction was going to be like from the Sheffield United fans.

Obviously you know from Sheffield Wednesday fans they’re going to be not happy about your decision and when you make that decision you understand that.

And keeping his eye on the ball against United's Iffy Onoura in 2002

And keeping his eye on the ball against United's Iffy Onoura in 2002

The first few games, it could have gone either way. But we won over the Sheffield United fans because we had a good time, we got promoted.

It was seen as some really successful years so I think that helped. If the team hadn’t done well and we’d have been losing I think we’d have got a lot of stick, but luckily for us the team was successful.

If the supporters see you trying your best and always giving 100 percent they’re fine, so it was never really a problem.

But the first game I went back to Hillsborough when I was playing for Sheffield United - it was tingling.

I went to take a throw-in and the stadium erupted with boos and it was like ‘Oh here we go’. I knew I was gonna get some stick, but it was like 30-36,000 fans booing you - it was quite intense.

But if you make that type of move you expect that.

From playing for both clubs, both sets of fans give their team fantastic support. You’ve seen that this season, they both turn out in their numbers every away game and pack out stadiums. They’re massive, massive clubs and I was lucky enough to play for both.

Any time I go back to either club and you see the fans they’re always really positive.

Who am I tipping next year? I’ll say a home win for both teams.

It will be one I’ll be wanting to go and watch this season, definitely.

Back in the Owls line-up!!!! Leigh Bromby but with a red a white shirt on

Back in the Owls line-up!!!! Leigh Bromby but with a red a white shirt on

United's three ex-Owls - Derek Geary, Alan Quinn and Bromby - celebrate promotion to the Premiership in 2005/06

United's three ex-Owls - Derek Geary, Alan Quinn and Bromby - celebrate promotion to the Premiership in 2005/06