Dave Wickett

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DAVE WICKETT, one of Sheffield United’s best-known fans, has died after a long illness.

He was a regular contributor to the Blades match day programme and was a friend of the club.

His fan view style reports of travelling to United’s away games became a popular and much read feature of the programme.

Sheffield United plc chairman Kevin McCabe said: “Dave really was a knowledgeable and dedicated friend of the club who will be sadly missed by all at Bramall Lane.

“He embraced everything about Sheffield United. He was one of life’s nice people, a great guy who was loved by everyone at the club. Our condolences go out to his wife Helen and son Ed at this very sad time.”

Originally from London, Dave Wickett graduated with a Masters in Economics from the University of Sheffield in 1976.

In the process of setting up a staff club at Sheffield Polytechnic, he developed a professional interest in the brewing industry and a passion for real ale. He decided that he would like to own a pub and in 1981 he purchased The Fat Cat pub in Kelham Island.

He started his career as an economics lecturer at Sheffield Polytechnic and was one of the first people to recognise the key importance of work placements for students. He set up business degrees at 47 universities across the country and became chairman of the Business Studies Placement Scheme.

While running the pub, Mr Wickett continued in his job as a lecturer at Sheffield Polytechnic and introduced an exchange programme at The Rochester Institute of Technology, a university in Upper New York State, which allowed its students to study at Sheffield.

This led ultimately to him opening The Old Toad, an English pub in New York which was run by British students on their exchange year. During this time he was also on the economics committee of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

During his time in America, Mr Wickett was inspired by the concept of the sports bar, which is popular in New York, and decided to open Champs Sports Diner on Ecclesall Road – now one of the most popular venues in Sheffield.

Soon after he decided to open his own brewery in Sheffield and in 1990 he left Sheffield Polytechnic and opened the Kelham Island Brewery – the first new brewery to open in Sheffield in a hundred years. His first beer, Celebration, went on sale that year.

During the 1990s the large breweries in Sheffield closed and Kelham Island became the biggest in the city. In 1999, he opened a new brewery with increased capacity, alongside the old one, to cope with increased demand. In August 2004 Kelham Island’s beer Pale Rider was named as Champion Beer of Great Britain at the Great British Beer Festival in Olympia, beating 50 finalists.

Last year he was honoured by the University of Sheffield when he received a newly created honour, the Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award.