SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades say ‘How is this for starters?’

Top team: Bill Dearden and Co went the first 10 league games unbeaten
Top team: Bill Dearden and Co went the first 10 league games unbeaten

THEY may have been sneaking under the radar a little bit with their penchant for draws, but Sheffield United’s unbeaten start is still something worth shouting about.

When they took it to 12 games unbeaten in all competitions at Leyton Orient on Saturday it represented the club’s longest unbeaten start to a season for over a century.

In fact, you have to go back to the 19th century to find the last time the Blades remained unbeaten for longer once a season had started. To 1899/1900.

This campaign did begin with the Capital One Cup exit on penalties to Burton Albion but as the game finished level after extra-time it is classed, for results sequence purposes, as a draw.

What Saturday’s win at Orient did was equal the start of season 1997/98 when the team managed by Nigel Spackman also totted up a dozen unbeaten from the campaign’s kick off.

Saturday’s win took Danny Wilson’s team (perhaps a touch apologetically) past the achievement of one of the finest sides in United’s history - the one which started the 1971/72 season newly-promoted to the top flight, then the old First Division, and took it by storm. Including such luminaries as Tony Currie, Alan Woodward, and the club’s current chief scout and then goalscoring striker, Bill Dearden, that team roared to the top of the table.

They went the first 11 (ten league and one league cup) unbeaten which included winning the first four games, in the process being the first team to beat Arsenal at Highbury for 18 months.

That run was ended with defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford which included the George Best solo goal which featured on BBC’s Match of the Day every week.

But the current crop have some way to go yet to match the record-breaking 1899/00 sequence which stands alone at 22 - and all were league games, a run that wasn’t ended until January 20 and a 2-1 defeat at Bury.

When United were Football League champions in 1897/8 they began with 14 unbeaten. Which means if the 21st century side avoid defeat on Saturday, they will be on 13 and have the club’s third longest unbeaten start of all time.