On Tuesday, the rumours that had grown more certain were made official at Beautiful downtown Bramall Lane. Sheffield United officially announced that they had re-signed Ched Evans.I’m not going to go into the details again of why Ched Evans was originally released by Sheffield United. Sufficed to say Evans was charged with rape. He was originally found guilty and served time in prison. His appeal was successful and he was re-tried and aquitted. Since then he signed for Chesterfield playing 25 times and scoring 5 goals.
Chris Wilder has made it clear that the re-signing of Evans was his choice and it was not foisted upon him from above. In fact he says he would leave a club should this happen.
About a month ago I renewed my season ticket for next season. We hadn’t officially been promoted back to the championship at that point but it was looking likely. This season had been amazing. I’ve seen them play outstanding football and eventually dominate the league recording a record points total. My anticipation and excitement for next season was unabashed. I was looking forward to some exciting signings and playing teams like Nottingham Forest, Sunderland, dirty Leeds and of course the possibility of resuming the local rivalry with those from across the city at Hillsborough. Chris Wilder to me was a hero. He’d done what others had failed to do in the previous few years – turn a sleeping giant into a giant full of life and verve.
On Tuesday, for me, those illusions and that excitement died when we re-signed Ched Evans. Officially Ched Evans is an innocent person and is free to ply his trade wherever he wants to and is allowed to. To me he is everything that is wrong and morally bankrupt about modern day football and footballers. Read about what he has admitted to doing on the night of the incident that brought him to prominence outside of his skills on a football field and you may, just may, understand where I am coming from.
On Tuesday I decided to wash my hands of the club I’ve supported since my dad and my cousin took me to Bramall Lane for the first time on 25th September 1976 when I saw United draw 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers. There is no way I could go and support a club which holds Ched Evans up as a role model. There is no way I could ever cheer a move let alone a goal that involved Evans. There simply is no way I can return to Bramall Lane whilst Ched Evans plays in those beautiful red and white stripes.
The popular mantra amongst Blades fans is that we must trust Chris Wilder because he’s ‘one of our own’. Well Mr Wilder you’ve gone from hero to zero to me if you believe the club I’ve supported all my life is a fitting place for a person like that.
I know I’m very much in a minority. I know that the vast majority of Blades fans are welcoming Evans back with open arms. I cannot and will not. For those of you who want to criticise me – that is your right but I would ask you one thing first. Read about what has actually accepted to have happened and then imagine you were that girls brother, father or uncle and think how you would feel.
My small gesture will not change anything but at least I can live with myself. Unfortunately I will now have to live without my wonderful red and white wizards.