“LIFE’S a bag of Revels,” sang The Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess a little under 30 years ago, “and I’m looking for the orange one”.
Polar Bear, the track in question on the one-time Madchester band’s debut album, was about the often unpredictable search for love, Burgess using a brand of chocolate with a host of assorted centres as a tool to illustrate his desire to meet ‘the one’. Well, if the 2018-19 season for Yorkshire football was the aforementioned bag of Revels, Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League surely fits the bill as the much-desired orange creme.
Furthermore, Barnsley’s own remarkable success in escaping League One apes best either the ever-popular Minstrels or Maltesers that jostle for space in what is effectively a lucky dip bag of confectionery.
The flipside of these treats – as any Revels fan will surely attest –is the unloved coffee cream.
Leaving a similarly nasty taste in the mouth during this mixed bag of a campaign were Huddersfield Town and Bradford City, the West Riding duo sliding to relegation with little more than a whimper.
Rotherham United also went down, but there is mitigation via their own demise coming in a Championship that saw Paul Warne’s budget dwarfed by those enjoyed by all 23 of his managerial peers.
It was a similar story in the top flight for the Terriers, with only Cardiff City understood to have a smaller wage bill. But that disparity still did not explain the sorry mess that became a season that, for the first few months, had promised much.
Performances under David Wagner were a step up on 2017-18, but the results and goals just would not come. Defeat at Fulham on the final Saturday of 2018 then felt like the beginning of the end and so it proved with relegation arriving at a joint record early juncture.
Happily the county will have a place at the top table of English football next season thanks to Chris Wilder’s Blades. A stunning run since Christmas meant United pipped Leeds to second place after a thrilling race.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side then had a second crack at going up via the play-offs, but again came up short. It means Leeds will again be part of a six-strong Yorkshire contingent in the second tier after Barnsley took Rotherham’s place.
Head coach Daniel Stendel did a stunning job at Oakwell in his first year, ensuring the Reds held off a spirited challenge from Charlton, Portsmouth and Sunderland to finish as runners-up.
Doncaster Rovers came agonisingly close to reaching the play-off final, only losing on penalties at The Valley, and can be happy with their season – unlike Bradford, whose relegation means the White Rose will have a representative in the basement division for the first time since 2017.