REVIEW: '˜An amazing story compellingly told' '“ Chris Wilder's Sheffield United revolution brought to book in '˜He's one of our own'
He's One of Our Own. They chant it, they love it.
There isn't a Sheffield United supporter anywhere who doesn't understand and appreciate the bond between their manager and their club.
Chris Wilder was brought in to rescue the Blades, wobbled at first, came gloriously good via League One outposts around the country and Sheffield Town Hall balcony and now has the Premier League in his sights.
This is an amazing story compellingly told. Danny Hall is a vivid and natural writer, an award-winning journalist, but leaves the limelight to Wilder and others.
Cleverly, the tale he tells is interspersed with the reflections of a host of other Bramall Lane figures, from fans to former players, who know the boss well.
There are a few pages of narrative, then a break for, say, Kevin Gage, back to the narrative, then the views of a supporter whose life has been touched by Wilder in some way. And so it continues. One author, several voices, 253 gripping pages.
Wilder is a people person, a man with the common touch, much like the football boss down the road whose beat I cover, Rotherham United's Paul Warne.
A simple line from Andy Pack, the former Blades media manager, caught my eye: "Chris is a high-profile personality with a low-profile way about him. And I mean that in the best possible way."
The author, incidentally, is also one of the Blades' own. Because his writing is so strong, because his sense of pace is so well judged, he doesn't have to play on it. You can tell he admires Wilder but you wouldn't know he's followed the club since childhood.
There is gem after gem in here, little nuggets that would have been off the record when they happened or were said but now, with the passage of time, sitÂ beautifully in Hall's tome.
My favourite chapter focuses on the United supporter who headed to Northampton Town for a great promotion away day, almost got himself kicked out of the ground and finished up watching the end of the match in the dugout alongside the Blades management team.
Many of you might have heard the story before. I hadn't. It's wonderful: human, funny, warm, intimate - everything the Blades, Wilder and United followers are together.
The book is packed with material like this and is a credit to boss and wordsmith. I bet Wilder admires Hall.
While I was already well-versed in the facts of the Blades' rise, I knew little of the behind-the-scenes detail.
The author brought that and Wilder's personality to life for me. I had the pleasure of working with Hall for several years and I've seen first hand the work he puts in to making the most of his gift: the drive, the research, the desire to make every phone call, attend every interview, leave no stone unturned.
He is a high-profile talent with a low-profile way about him. And I mean that in the best possible way.
He's One of Our Own (the Story of Chris Wilder's Blades Revolution), by Danny Hall, is published by Vertical Editions. To order a signed copy, visit www.bladesbook.co.uk.