Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers right on course for early celebrations

THE precious luxury of clinching automatic promotion with several games to spare in a season is a sensation which has not been afforded to many Yorkshire clubs in modern times.

Doncaster Rovers fans surround the players tunnel as goal keeper Andy Warrington leaves the pitch after promotion in 2004.

That two – in the shape of Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers – could join that select group shortly while the daffodils are still in bloom and the Easter eggs have not yet been opened represents something of a rarity.

Few have been able to luxuriate in the glow of securing promotion with more than a game or two to go, most clubs leaving it late to achieve glory.

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That was most spectacularly showcased during the course of one unforgettable Spring week in 2013, when Doncaster, Hull City and Rotherham United all went up following tumultuous final-day events.

Just last year, there was the drama of Middlesbrough going up by the seat of their pants after their final-day showdown with Brighton – and there have been plenty of other historic examples of teams taking things right to the wire; think Leeds and Sheffield United in 1990, for instance.

All things being equal, it should not be quite as dramatic for the Blades or Doncaster come this May. Quite the opposite, in fact, with the pair having 82 and 78 points, respectively.

With seven games to go, League Two leaders Rovers are 16 points clear of the side just outside of the top three in Stevenage and Chris Wilder’s League One front-running Blades are 13 ahead of third-placed Fleetwood with six matches remaining in their season.

Rovers, in fact, can be promoted as early as this weekend if they triumph at Grimsby Town, Stevenage lose to Barnet and Blackpool and Luton Town draw their fixture in Bedfordshire.

The Blades take a break this weekend and are next in action on Wednesday at home to Coventry City. Victory against the Sky Blues could even clinch promotion, if third-placed Fleetwood lose their next two games (Swindon and Oxford).

In terms of getting over the line and sealing the deal mathematically, the smart money looks to be on the pair being promoted within 10 days.

The chances of both Wilder and Darren Ferguson presiding over a rare 100-point tally come the season’s end may be pushing it, but both would gladly settle for promotion and silverware in good time.

They would be joining exalted company, with history books showing that not many Yorkshire clubs have been able to rubber-stamp promotion with over a week or two left of the season.

During their last foray in the third tier in 2003-04, Doncaster were promoted on Easter Monday, 2004 following a 2-0 victory over Cambridge United at their former Belle Vue home – with four games of the regular season still to go.

On that April 12 afternoon, Dave Penney’s side became the first team to clinch promotion in 2003-04 and went on to claim the title with a 0-0 draw at Boston in front of 2,000 visiting supporters on May 1, 2004.

The Blades, managed by Neil Warnock, were famously promoted to the Premiership with three matches remaining on April 15, 2006 after Leeds failed to beat second-tier champions Reading at Elland Road.

York City took centre stage in a 1984-85 campaign which no seasoned Minstermen supporter will tire of recounting, with Denis Smith’s side breaking records galore en route to picking up silverware in the old Division Four.

York recorded their most wins in a league season (31), most away wins (13) and most goals scored (96) in a stunning season that ended in them becoming the first side to reach a century of points in a campaign – with the three points for a win system coming into operation in 1981.

Their final total was 101 points, the only time that a Yorkshire side has achieved that landmark in the Football League, with York being promoted with five games left after a 4-1 win over Halifax on Good Friday, 1984 (April 20).

The other much-publicised occasion of a team cantering to promotion arrived at Boro under Jack Charlton in 1973-74.

Under the two points for a win system, Boro went up to the top flight in March with a record 65 points, boasting a record-winning margin of 15 points over nearest rivals Luton.

Boro clinched promotion with seven matches to go after a 1-0 win over Oxford United at Ayresome Park on March 23, 1974 and it was at the Hatters’ Kenilworth Road home seven days later where they secured the title with another victory, causing Charlton to famously admonish his troops.

Big Jack had wanted his side to clinch the gong on Teesside seven days later at home to Notts County.

What a nice problem to have for a manager.