Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 1: The Blunts
Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United have a long and illustrious history, in which it's fair to say there's no love lost between either club or either set of fans.
The two sides have met a total of 109 times in all competitions with Forest just having the edge with 42 wins, 27 draws and 40 defeats. The first game was back in 1893, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
In more recent times those rivalries have been stoked up, not least because of the Miners Strike, but also because Dave Bassett managed both clubs, they beat us in the Play Of semi final in 2003 and also the fact that everyone hated their former manager Neil Warnock.
Former Forest manager Paul Hart and Warnock nearly came to blows in a game at the City Ground, when Warnock was heard to instruct his players to 'kick them off the park.' This incensed Hart, who had a slightly different outlook on how the beautiful game should be played to Warnock.
In 2003 we met the Blunts in the Play Off semis. The game ended 1-1 at the City Ground and the stage was set for the showdown at Bramall Lane 5 days later. The result was a 5-4 agg win to United and the rest as they say is history. It was a night of heartache for all Reds' fans, the misery compounded by the fact that the Blunts winner came from a Des Walker OG. If we thought the misery of that night was hard to take, then the 4 years that would follow it would put it into perspective.
Whilst we were heading for League 1, the Blunts were yoyoing between the Prem and the Championship. Brian Robson quickly became a Bramall Lane hero and just as quickly became villain after former manager and supposed fan Warnock did the unthinkable and left. Kevin Blackwell took over with them hurtling down the table and it has to be said, he has brought them some stability. A period of calm seems to have fallen on both clubs, with them finishing last season in 9th, a disappointing 4 points off the Play Offs and with us gaining promotion.
The encounters between the sides will be something to look forward to over the summer and will be one of the most eagerly awaited fixtures of the season. The downside as always to a game with the Blunts is their infernal rendition of the Chip Butty song. Still, it has to be better than 'You're not famous any more.'. The new fixture lists are announced on June 16, you can find out then when we'll be renewing our acquaintances with our Yorkshire friends.