We finished with an average of 26,583 which put us 6th in the league. Only Leeds and Sunderland were teams that finished below us had better crowds. Wolves, Villa and Derby are big clubs and have been established at this level for a while or even higher. It was our 12th highest average in our history and third highest since 1954. We beat Middlesbrough, Wednesday, forest, Norwich, Birmingham Fulham, Cardiff and many more sizeable clubs. Overall, the fan support has been good. I cannot recall too many moans/groans/booed off moments. Yes, some frustrations but overall the fans realised the team were doing their best and appreciated the efforts. I felt at times it became a bit quiet, especially in the 2nd half of the season and I felt noise wise it dropped off and became quiet at times. Still big crowds and loyal backing at home for the most part and this was matched away from home. We had many sell outs and tickets were hard to come by (until form dropped off of course) and we averaged 2,173 but of course were restricted on away following with clubs like Wednesday and Leeds not giving us many tickets at all. This was down on the away average last season of 2,432 last season but of course League One sides gave us many more tickets last season. There was only Reading and Ipswich where we took less than 1,500 and the former was a wretched day of weather on a cold wintery Tuesday night. The season started with the bad scenes at Middlesbrough and was followed by some bad behaviour in the home game at Norwich and you worried that our fans (a small percentage) were carrying on the behaviour of last season but at more high-profile teams. Fortunately, there were not major scenes of trouble after this and things calmed down somewhat. I went to Millwall and Birmingham and saw little in the way of any kicks offs. The away support remained positive and vocal as we went to many grounds we had not seen for a while. I was a bit of a Jonah as saw I think 8 away games I person and saw 6 defeats and 1 draw and only 1 win (that was the Coutts leg break)!
Little bit surprised that the sales are down for season tickets. It was reported we had sold 12,000 season tickets initially which was quite a bit down on last year (18,000 reported at the same time). But then I heard reports recently it was closer to 17,000 now. However prices have gone up, the boardroom uncertainty and maybe the novelty had worn off now we are back in the Championship. Also, the ability to see games free across some social media site cannot help but even I thought we would be close to last year in terms of sales so there may be a drop off in crowds next season. I have a feeling away tickets will be easier to come by too – just a hunch.
Overall thought, the fans have enjoyed the effort, level of performance and entertainment. Yes, things petered out but fans could see we were trying to play football and trying to attack and win. It was never really boring. We had a few flat games but for the most part we tried to win and always tried to attack and score goals. Fans in turn appreciated this.
[color=green]Grade B+ [/color]
Deadbat’s Awards for 2017/18
Player of the Season: John Fleck Last season it was nip and tuck between Sharp and Fleck. This year it was Fleck and Duffy for me. Sharp and Clarke both had great spells but had drop offs. O’Connell and Basham were both very good but also had some off games too. For me the only one who got close to Fleck and Duffy for consistency was Baldock. So 3rd is Baldock, 2nd is Duffy and 1st Fleck. Ironically if Coutts had remained fit who knows if he would have won this award as up to injury he was our stand out player.
Yes, Duffy was in and out at times and had a few injuries but so did Fleck who got too many yellow cards and missed a few games. It was really close I feel but Fleck edges it. Duffy had a few quiet games and was not always a certain starter even when fit. If Fleck was fit and not suspended then he played. He was the one that was consistent most weeks. Lovely player to watch. Ball control, skill, runs with it and finds space. Can move it side to side and has a range of passes. A great player and young enough to keep improving. One of the players we have to build around. Hoping no Premier League clubs come sniffing.
Goal of the Season: Mark Duffy at SWFC For the moment, the importance in helping win the game and the sheer brilliance as he twisted Van Aken inside out and hit an unstoppable shot past Westwood. Sheer brilliance. One of the great derby day goals. Ironically his other goal v Reading may have been close. The runner up was Lee Evans. An amazing goal against Middlesbrough which was superb technique to be able to cushion a dropping volley into the top corner. Other good goals were Coutts v Reading, Sharp v Leeds (first one) and a few great team goals – Sharp v Reading and also Baldock v Sunderland after several passes.
Best performance of the season: Wednesday (a) We had some great wins. The early home win V Derby was a great performance. We also outplayed Reading in a dominant first half at the Lane. Ditto for a second half v Hull. Away at Leeds was a great showing too. Wolves were also well beaten at the Lane. We actually played well in some defeats – Forest away, Bristol City, Villa and some draws; Brentford away and Cardiff at home. However, the Wednesday game saw us play superbly. 4-2 flattered them really -it should have been much more. That night was as good as many of us have felt as a Blade for some time. We felt we were finally back as a club and had taken the title of kings of the city again.
Worst performance of the season: Hull We had some stinkers at Preston, Birmingham and Millwall and a poor one v Bolton at home but Hull in front of the eyes off the nation we were terrible. We could not pass, control the ball or do even the basics. Wilder called the whole team out and rightly so.
Most improved player: Leon Clarke Stearman improved as the year went on but overall Clarke takes it. See above under Strikers. Never thought he would be one of our key men and one of the leading scorers in the division. Strange to call a veteran journeyman most improved but he did improve and was better than anything I have ever seen from him at any other club before. Many will wonder why he has not done this before?
Biggest disappointment (player) Samir Carruthers See above under Midfielders. Got some ability but needs to work much harder and do the basis. Sadly, not sure he will ever be the player we hoped at the Lane. Ricky Holmes and Ryan Leonard were chased for some time and face big seasons if they are to make it at the Lane as they had minimal impact when they arrived.
Have a good summer all!
Up the Blades
Twitter - @Deadbat_DB
Deadbat's Season Review / School Report 2017-18 - Part Seven