25 years ago: Rivals’ demise only adds to the joy for United

A LITTLE under two months into the Eighties, Sheffield Wednesday overtook Steel City rivals United in the race for promotion from the old Division Three.

Dave Bassett celebrates promotion with players after Leicester game back in May 1990.

By the following summer, the Owls were a division above their neighbours and that was how it would remain in Sheffield until May 5, 1990.

“For United fans, it was utopia,” recalls Dave Bassett of the day his side turned the tables on Wednesday by clinching a return to the top flight.

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“They had been in the shadow of Wednesday for so long and had to take a lot of stick. So, it was great to finally have some success of their own to celebrate.

“But with Wednesday going down as well, you can imagine how much sweeter that made things. For me and the team, it wasn’t even in our thinking. We just went to Leicester to do a job.

“I only found out quite a bit after the game that Wednesday were down. I wasn’t happy or anything like that. To me, it is important to have a strong Yorkshire as it pushes teams along. It did for us back then.”

As if to illustrate Bassett’s point, the Blades led the Second Division table in 1989-90 for a little over three months before being leapfrogged by Leeds.

The Yorkshire duo then spent all but five days of the remaining season occupying the automatic promotion places, a 4-0 defeat at Elland Road on Easter Monday causing Bassett’s men to be temporarily displaced by Newcastle only to bounce back with a 2-1 home win over Port Vale.

It meant victory at Leicester on the final day would be enough to guarantee a return to the old First Division after a 14-year absence, something Bassett’s men duly delivered in front of an 8,000 strong travelling army of fans with a stylish 5-2 win.

“I look back on my eight years at United with pride,” said Bassett. “Not only did we enjoy success and spend a few years in the Premier League, but we made a profit of something like £5m on transfers while I was there.”