Chris Wilder has told the Daily Mail the legal battle between Sheffield United and West Ham United from 12 years ago is “water under the bridge.”
The two sides meet in the Premier League on Saturday for the first time since the 2006/07 season. Blades fans won’t need telling, but what happened on the final day of that campaign forged a rivalry between the clubs.
Going into the last game, three teams could still occupy the one remaining relegation spot. They were the Blades, West Ham and Wigan Athletic.
As luck would have it, the Blades and Wigan met at Bramall Lane. All the hosts had to do was avoid defeat, but a penalty from David Unsworth – who had left South Yorkshire for the Latics the previous January – sealed a 2-1 win for the away side.
Yet they still had a lifeline as the Hammers had to pull off an unlikely upset and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. A solitary goal from Carlos Tevez did just that and the East Londoners stayed up alongside Wigan.
For the Blades this began a 12-year absence from the top flight; six of which were in League One. Then in came Wilder and lead them back to the Premier League with two promotions in three years.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Why West Ham v Sheffield United is a bigger fixture than most
It later emerged that Tevez goal against the Red Devils and the six others the Argentine netted in the final ten games, were scored in controversial circumstances.
As football.london reports, the striker was playing for West Ham despite being owned by a third party. This was in breach of Premier League rules.
The Hammers were eventually fined £5.5m, but weren’t docked points. They were also ordered to pay the Blades £18.1m in compensation for loss of earnings due to relegation.
At the time Wilder was in charge of non-league Halifax Town. As a boyhood Blades fan and former player, he felt the heartache alongside all the other supporters.
“I cringe when people bring it up or want to talk about it,” Wilder told the Telegraph back in August.
“I came to the final Premier League game here (in 2007) as a punter. Obviously it has been a traumatic 12 years for the football club since – a few stories in that period that are not great.”
Wilder can write a new chapter in that story on Saturday afternoon. One where he finally leads his beloved Blades to victory over West Ham.