30,000 red and white army ready for final

Thomas Dobby with Tony Currie
Thomas Dobby with Tony Currie

MORE than 30,000 Sheffield United fans are preparing to head to Wembley on Saturday for the play-off final – and three are even coming from Canada.

A red and white army of coaches, cars and a train will head south, and thousands of other supporters will use private cars and standard coach services. With similar numbers from the blue and white camp in Huddersfield, the M1 is expected to be brimming with football traffic.

United have been allocated up to 39,000 seats at Wembley and Huddersfield 37,000.

Thirty four coaches will be leaving the car park of the Motorpoint Arena at Attercliffe at 7am. A specially chartered train will be leaving Sheffield at 9am.

United managing director Dave McCarthy said: “Inevitably, some Blades fans have been in two minds about going to Wembley but it seems now that quite a few have decided with a few days to go that they are not going to miss out on what could be a momentous occasion and want to buy tickets.”

Blades supporters queued overnight into Monday as tickets went on general sale, with the first fans arriving 15 hours before the ticket office opened.

Ryan Higgins, aged 23, of Pitsmoor, was at the front of the queue. “I have been a Blade all my life and I was determined not to miss out on a ticket,” he said. “So I got here with a tent, a barbecue, sleeping bags and chairs at 6pm and I was set up for the night.

“I have queued before – it’s what you have to do if you want to walk up Wembley Way and support your team.

“I was upset that we didn’t win automatic promotion but we have got over that. Now it’s time for the players to show their character.”

Bob Mather and Thomas Dobby and his dad, Stephen, are coming from further afield – Canada.

‘Canada Bob’ – as he is known to his Sheffield mates – will stay with his sister and her Wednesdayite husband, Shirley and Gary Samworth, at their home in Dungworth. He flies home early on Monday.

Bob, aged 67, a consultant mining engineer, lives in Toronto, is making a 7,000-mile round trip for the match. Shirley said: “In Canada he runs about in a car which has the number plate SUFC 1.

“His sons bought it him for his 60th birthday and it’s his pride and joy. Trouble is, no-one in Canada knows what SUFC stands for.”

She added: “My brother will be travelling to Wembley with a group of avid Unitedites who he’s known since infant school.

“He’s been in Canada now for almost 45 years and follows SUFC religiously on all the media channels there. Bob has travelled here to see them in previous play-offs but he usually fits in a holiday as well.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Dobby, who is a a TV sports broadcaster based in Toronto, and his father, Stephen, are staying with family in Sheffield as part of a 50-hour flying visit.

“I have been over to Sheffield twice in the last four years,” said Stephen. “Two years ago I was here for two weeks and I was able to take in four games.

“I said to dad that if we beat Stevenage and make the play-off final then we would go to Wembley.”

While Thomas was born in Canada, Stephen, a former Sheffield Boys triallist, emigrated with his family from Norton Lees aged 16.

“From an early age I was inspired by the passion and the loyalty dad had for United,” said Thomas. “It was influential in my decision to follow the Blades even though I was so far away in Canada.”

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