the wretched events at Stamford Bridge on May 7, 1994, are wounding to this day for boyhood Sheffield United fan Jamie Hoyland.
Playing for his hometown club – the one his father Tommy also proudly represented – the midfielder came on as a late substitute for Mitch Ward at Chelsea on a fateful final day of the 1993-94 season with the visitors 2-1 up, comfortably adrift of the drop zone and on course to secure Premier League safety and usher in a survival party.
Incomprehensibly, Hoyland left the West London arena with a shattering relegation on his CV just under 15 minutes later with a last-gasp winner from Mark Stein proving the final cruel act in a 3-2 home victory.
Scarcely believable late events saw Chelsea score twice and the Blades’ relegation rivals Everton famously overturn a 2-0 interval deficit to beat Wimbledon 3-2 at Goodison Park to condemn the Yorkshire club.
The controversial winner came when Graham Stuart’s shot somehow squirmed under the body of Hans Segers in front of the Gwladys Street end.
Memories from that day will still provide some seasoned Unitedites with a shudder as they enter their seats in Chelsea’s away section located in the old Shed End this afternoon.
He said: ‘We are down’ and I answered: ‘No we are not, when I went on we were 13th.’ But he said that other results had gone against us. It was the worst feeling ever.Jamie Hoyland on that fateful day at Chelsea
But there is one moment at the end of a disconsolate spring day that Hoyland will always treasure and take to the grave.
Hoyland – now part of the recruitment team at Everton – told The Yorkshire Post: “I remember coming off the pitch and my brother-in-law now is Alan Kelly. Me and Kells are like Waldorf and Statler when we get together every Sunday.
“He said: ‘We are down’ and I answered: ‘No we are not, when I went on we were 13th.’ But he said that other results had gone against us. It was the worst feeling ever.
“Everton had been losing 2-0 at half-time at Wimbledon. I have never watched the goals from that game as it hurt me so much as I was a Blade and I get a bit of stick where I work now.
“It was the most horrible thing. But I remember getting back on the coach to Bramall Lane – a lot of our London lads had stayed down there, but the Northern lads had come back.
“I remember the car park being packed and thinking: ‘oh no, it is going to go off here.’ But, to be fair, the fans were brilliant.
“Someone put a scarf around me that a fan gave me and I have still got that scarf in the loft at my mum and dad’s. It was quite humbling, but horrible at the same time.
“You could not have put a worse set of results together that day and it took the club a lot of time to recover. A long, long time. Now I think they have and the feelgood factor is back.”
Hoyland’s pride at the Blades’ renaissance under former team-mate Chris Wilder is manifest and, like many, he spies the similarities in terms of mentality, togetherness and spirit between the successful side which Dave Bassett built in late Eighties and the early Nineties and the one currently being assembled by his good friend.
It is Hoyland’s devout hope that United avoid the fate of the class of 93-94 this season and he remains quietly confident that they will under the stewardship of a canny tactician and skilled man-manager whose renowned motivational powers are positively ‘Bassettesque’. As in Dave, not Mike.
“I do see a lot of similarities. I still speak to a lot of young fans and they still cannot remember the nineties when Deano (Brian Deane) and everyone was there. But a lot of older fans have related to it,” added Hoyland.
“Chris has taken it back to the Bassett era where players really wanted to play for Sheffield United and they had that affinity with the crowd and buzz off each other. It is like one club again, which is fantastic.
“I went back to work there in 2013 and I could have walked out after two weeks because the feeling at the club was toxic. Danny Wilson was the manager and he was brilliant as were Chris Morgan, (Darren) Ward and Billy Dearden.
“But there were other factions in the club and it was horrible. Everybody was not pulling in the right direction.
“Chris has come further down the line and is a Sheffield lad and knows exactly what it needs to work and he has done it and got everyone behind him, which is fantastic. He has also done it playing great football.
“Everybody has written them off, even those who have not seen them. But I think they will do it (get results) at Bramall Lane.”
The beer-soaked scenes at the end of last season when the Blades’ jubilant players and management milked promotion for all it was worth and justifiably partied long and hard with supporters also provided a joyous rewind to Hoyland.
It was also a reminder of special times when he and team-mates liked nothing better than hailing their own triumphs with supporters.
One of their regular watering holes was the Big Tree in Woodseats, scene of some unique Sunday-evening celebrations after one particular derby win over Sheffield Wednesday in the early Nineties.
Hoyland recalled: “I remember beating Wednesday 2-0 on a Sunday morning and going in there at night and there was a Rottweiler sat on the pool table with a Sheffield United top on at whatever time it was and every Blades player was in there and we were all fans. It was amazing times.
“Now it is all Peronis everywhere and everyone enjoying it. It was the same for us, just that there were no mobile phones and we probably drank ten times more and partied more!
“But they also now have that ‘work hard, play hard’ and ‘we are all in it together’ attitude.
“Those who want to be bigger than the crowd and group are sent on their way and Chris has done that.
“As much as everyone will like Chris, you have to be ruthless and he has got that in him as well.
“Chris rings me quite a bit to be fair and I went down for a couple of matches early last year and had an hour with him before. He has not changed one bit and always asks about my mum and dad and everything.
“I wish Chris and the club well. Yes, I had my bad times at United as I was a local lad and sometimes, it was horrible for the family. But when I signed, I could have gone to Wolves, Norwich or anywhere.
“Wolves offered me thousands of pounds more in 1990 but, as soon as Dave Bassett said: ‘Do you want to sign?’, that was it. I was off.
“It was the best thing I ever did as I played for my hometown club in the top flight in front of a lot of my mates and family. It was the best thing ever...
“With my dad playing there, it is still always the first result I look for.”